Ask the grumpies: How to prioritize activism activities

First Gen American asks:

How do you prioritize your activism activities? Is it like whack a mole or do you have a more structured approach?

For me it is very much whack-a-mole.  Back before my sister burned out and my other activist friends moved out of state, there was a lot of prioritization towards connecting groups and getting organization and planning out across groups.  That was really needed.  Leadership was needed.  But… my sister has burned out.  All the local groups in our town are gone, their leaders having moved to blue states or socialist countries.  Students have graduated. So now I’m not really focused on anything local or even state-side.

Mostly I’m donating and writing post-cards.  Soon I should move to letters for this year’s Big Send.

Right now, we should probably be prioritizing getting people registered to vote and to check their registration and to request mail ballots if that’s something in their state.

How do you prioritize activism activities?  How should they be prioritized?

8 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: How to prioritize activism activities”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    I personally try to focus my efforts on education outreach. Being educated fixes a lot. Poverty for one. In my opinion…it often even fixes warped political views. I remember not being in favor of affirmative action when I was young, white and poor because I somehow thought it was taking stuff away from me, but now I get it.

    I look back and I was so ignorant about so many things.

    I did burn out as well but it also happened as my mom’s needs for my time got greater. I still give money but I am no longer doing as much volunteering and sitting on boards. I do miss being more engaged in that stuff but that time will come again once I’m more of an empty nester. In another 6 years, my life will be totally different from now, I gather.

  2. EB Says:

    I am laser-focused on getting swing voters and infrequent Democratic voters to vote. I live in a blue state, so I travel to purple states. Might as well say — I live in Illinois and trvel to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa depending on where they are provideing buses to go. We go door-to-door and talk to voters.

    This work has little to do with convincing people to agree with my positions; it’s all about helping people vote who we are pretty sure will vote Democratic. Just showing up at someone’s door is proven to up the chances that they will vote. Providng applications for absentee or mail-in ballots does the same. Also providing information on where and how to early vote.

    I have been doing this sort of work since the 1960’s, so you can see I no longer have children at home to tie me down!!! As long as it’s not January or February, it’s actually enjoyable.

    Locally, and at the state level, I work on legislation to improve the criminal justice system, including policing, court system, and incarceration if necessary. And I mean things like going to town halls, visiting alderpeople/state legislators/members of congress, going to Springfield to lobby memberfs of the legislature. Very little marching or rallies any more — they do not have the good organization and disciipline that they used to have. They’re OK for raising consciousness, but that’s as far as they go.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That’s all brilliant! And thank you for your service!

      I did a lot of door-to-door canvassing with my sister pre-pandemic. People are so happy to be asked to register to vote, even if they’re already registered.

      I was just wishing we had more protests– they are a REALLY good way to register people to vote here. It’s just been so HOT. And again, we’ve lost communication across local groups and organization within them.

      • EB Says:

        wow! tell me how that works (getting people to register at protests). What kind of protests? do you have to be a deputy registrar? how many people, typically, get registered? I’m guessing these are young people?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        The rules are different in different states.

        I got a ton of people registered at all the Black Lives Matter protests and helped a lot of people check their registration online.

        Not always young people— that also depends on the state and how frequently they kick people off rolls. I’ve had a lot of people think they were registered who turned out not to be any longer because if you don’t vote in the most recent X elections or if they send you a card and you don’t get it (this happened to me— my husband got his so I knew to check and complain) then they remove you.

      • E Says:

        That’s great. The BLM protests here were marches. There was no attempt to register voters that I could see. There was some tabling on college campuses, but not sure if there was voter registration there, either. Of course, Illinois = no great need to register people. Although, we did convert 2 congressional districts in the suburbs to Democaratic in 2018. There are very few Republican members of congress in Illinois any more.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        We had all sorts, some marches some protests. At the marches I just walked up to people and asked if they were registered in the county and if they wanted to be. At the protests that weren’t marches I did that but there were also tables and I definitely wasn’t the only one walking around asking.

        I don’t know what the various states in the Midwest do. Some places you can sign people up on line. Some places you can help them fill out a mail card you provide and then mail it. Some places that’s not legal. Some places you have to get registrar training. I had a class assignment a few years back where each student picked a state and studied voting and registration in that state but the Midwest wasn’t popular and a LOT of laws have changed since then.

  3. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    We’re mainly donating now, I wish I had the physical capacity and time to take on more direct actions but I deeply appreciate you keeping us updated of all you do. It’s good food for thought for later.


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