No matter which political party you categorize yourself in, it’s important to recognize the amount of activism and passion that’s been occurring since the election of Donald Trump.
With so much chaos going on around the world now, it can seem difficult to accurately keep up with everything.
Many people believe they get all the information they could ever need or want from their smartphone or computer. Using technology as a tool is great and should be used to everybody’s advantage. However, being a part of this action is what makes a real difference.
“At best, tech is an excellent resource for staying on top of political activities,” according to a New York Times article. “But at some point, you will have to go outside or pick up the phone and engage with people, like fellow citizens and members of Congress.”
Don’t get me wrong, using technology should not be discouraged. Many different social media outlets have been used to help put activist rallies and protests together over the past few months.
The protest in Kennedy International Airport last month was created through a Facebook group and made headlines all around the world. It also brought major attention to Trump’s immigration plans. Similarly, the women’s marches were coordinated through different social media platforms as well.
There’s no doubt that technology is helpful. It just shouldn’t be the only thing citizens consider when pondering politics.
So, what else can you do besides refreshing your news app or Facebook page?
The first thing is to stay educated. An example from the New York Times was to read the executive orders posted on the White House website to get accurate and up-to-date information instead of hoping for factual information from second-hand news sources.
The next step to after that is to start following your members of Congress. These people are the ones who introduce legislation, which means knowing what they’re up to is extremely beneficial to you. Visit your Congress member’s website and maybe sign up to receive their newsletters. Even if you just skim the newsletters, at least you’re getting the basic information you need to stay on top of new activity involving your state.
There is a website called GovTrack.us that lets you share your location, select a certain issue and view any bills that have been introduced regarding that issue. For example, I searched for the issue “Civil Rights and Liberties, Minority Issues” and found 25 bills. When you click on a specific bill, the website brings you to a brief overview of the bill and a history of how the bill came to be.
After familiarizing yourself with your politicians and Congress members, make a phone call or send them an email. Let the lawmakers know what you think about an issue. A phone call has a much greater chance of being heard than a Tweet.
A website called phonecongress.com allows you to select your location to identify your local representatives. It then provides lists of contact information and even instructions on what to say to each lawmaker.
Another way to be involved is finding people with the same interests. You can only get so far by yourself. There are websites that help connect people with nearby activism groups.
There is power in technology, but there is more power in real life activism. Keeping your nose tucked in your phone isn’t going to create change. Take the knowledge technology provides and turn it into something worthwhile.
Email Laura Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org