In our current political climate, it feels like there is a new issue every single day that we have to share our opinions on. As much as many of us want to be political activists, it can be intimidating and exhausting to participate in typical actions: whether it's canvassing, visiting the offices of your representatives or going to marches. Not to mention, all of those are much more accessible for able-bodied people rather than those with disabilities or chronic illnesses. So, what can we do to drive political change from the comfort of our own beds? Here are 8 tips to get you started.
1. Inform yourself.
First and foremost, you have to inform yourself to be politically active—whether you're working from bed or not. You can do this in a lot of different ways, whether you prefer to read articles about political issues or if you want to skip the middle man and read legislative texts yourself. The most important thing to know is how to identify a reliable source. If you want a quick briefing, read this. Personally, I gravitate towards listening to NPR and reading the New York Times (which has an incredible student subscription discount, by the way). I also love Countable, a website/app that briefs you on current legislation in easy-to-understand language.
2. Inform others.
Once you inform yourself, you should also try to inform others to the best of your ability. This can mean having more political discussions with your friends and family or even just posting on social media. It's important to acknowledge when you do this that you are not an expert, and don't be afraid to fact-check while you making your point. Even saying something as simple as "I'm pretty sure it's this fact, but I would have to check to be sure" is a valid way of showing you are engaged and have given a topic a lot of thought rather than simply stating things without any evidence.
3. Contact your representatives.
Another one that seems fairly obvious, but has to be said. Actually contacting your representatives is one of the most effective ways to drive political change. They work for us, and since you are their constituent, your voice should matter to them (and if it doesn't, vote them out!). You can even contact lawmakers that don't directly represent where you live. It doesn't matter whether you call, email, tweet or even write a physical letter to a representative; if you don't speak up at all, they won't hear you.
4. Support fundraisers.
You probably think that I'm going to say we should all donate more money to fundraisers. And while I do think we should donate when we can, giving away money just isn't feasible for many people. But that doesn't mean we should just ignore them. If you believe in the work of a certain candidate or organization, share their fundraiser! You can even write a short testimony as to why you think their work is important and should be funded. And if you're feeling really passionate, start a fundraiser for a cause yourself!
5. Coordinate with activist organizations.
While you may not be able to be out canvassing and doing office visits with activist organizations, there's still a lot of work that can be done behind the scenes. All it takes is a simple email to an organization (ideally your local chapter/hub) to see how you can get involved. If they coordinate office visits frequently, they may have you write a physical letter so that they can hand-deliver it to the representative along with other letters in a huge stack. If you have a bit more time on your hands and the organization needs a bit more help, they may have you create slideshows for events or write-ups so volunteers can be briefed on a topic before heading out into the field.
6. Make art.
Whether there's an event coming up or not, every activist needs some art. If you have supplies, make a poster for your friend to carry at an upcoming march. If you prefer digital art, create a statement piece that you can share to get your point across in an eye-catching way. If you want to make something more versatile, design a t-shirt that starts conversations. You can buy some fabric markers and draw directly on the shirt, or create a screen-printed/iron-on design.
7. Tune in to live streams.
If there's an event going on that you can't be there for, there's probably a live stream happening on the organizer's website or social media! Before you get too comfortable, however, make sure to share it so everyone else can see what's happening as soon as possible. If you can't watch it while it's live, most live streams will be saved so you can view them after they end. Watching live streams are a great way to stay informed because you see things exactly as they happen, and it gives you a glimpse into exactly what kind of work a particular organization does.
8. Join or create a space to share your views.
It's easy to write a post on social media about a political topic, but maybe it's time to give your political voice its own space. You can join an existing space like Fresh U that allows you to write articles about your favorite topics, or you can try curating your own platform. This can mean starting a blog through WordPress or Blogger, creating social media accounts dedicated to activism or even trying a more dynamic form of media like filming Youtube videos or starting a podcast.
As you can see, there's no one-size-fits-all way to practice political activism. There's something for everybody, for any amount of time and energy you're able to commit. The important part is that you're making your voice heard and making informed decisions about which policies and politicians to support. So before you catch some Zzz's, try one of these ideas to make your political thoughts more than dreams.