There are 55 days until the election on November 3, 2020. 55 days to shift the outcome, to change the narrative. This is not just about Trump. This is about moving our national story toward one of community, of support, of justice. What can we each do in those 55 days? We must answer that question for ourselves, and resist judging the different ways we answer it. One person may be able to devote time every day to getting others out to vote. Another person’s success may be just registering themselves to vote. What we each do will be different — and we each need to do something to defeat Trump, to create a Democratically-controlled Senate, to hold the House. We each need to do something to elect state and local officials who will create and enact humane policies. 

If you are struggling with what you can do, here are a few ideas:

  • Register yourself to vote and make a commitment to vote. 
  • Make sure that 5 others to whom you are close are registered to vote and have made a commitment to vote.
  • Post on social media reminding others about voting and telling them why you are committed to doing so.
  • Write postcards or letters to voters in swing states. This is a simple way to reach out to other voters from your own home. Some places to start:
  • Text voters in swing states. This is another, slightly more time-intensive and impactful way of reaching out to voters. 
  • Phone-bank. This can feel like the most daunting option — actually reaching out, live, to other voters by phone. But research shows that it is also one of the most impactful things you can do. 
  • Sign up to work the polls. There are fewer workers volunteering this year because of the pandemic. If you are healthy and in a place where you could volunteer, residents of  Cook County can sign up, or you can do so wherever you live. 

There is a place for all of us to take action in the next 55 days. What we have to keep in mind is that, whatever actions we take now, this can not be the end. 

Let’s imagine the worst-case scenario, that Trump ekes out another win, that the Senate stays in Republican hands.. The damage done in this nation of the past four years will increase — more discrimination, more immigration restrictions, fewer rights for all of us, more power for the wealthy and already-powerful. We will have plenty to fight against over the next four years and beyond. 

But even if everything we dream comes into being on November 3rd — Biden is elected, Democrats take the Senate and hold the House, local progressive leaders are elected. Those leaders — starting with Biden — are not going to automatically create the legislation we need. Remember, Biden himself has voiced reservations about Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, among other pieces of progressive legislation. We must push him and Congressional Democrats to implement the laws that we need. We must raise our voices to make it clear that we elected them to implement truly progressive policy, and that we will hold them accountable for doing so. 

So if you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to use these next 55 days to make a commitment to activism, in whatever way that is possible for you. And then to make that commitment part of your life after the election. Fostering our democracy means voting, yes, and it also means more than that. It means living in a community of mutual responsibility, where we encourage one another to participate in the civic process. 

It also means cultivating an awareness of the dynamics of oppression and dominant culture that mean that the responsibilities of activism can and must look different for a white man than for a Black woman. That doesn’t mean that one individual will take on certain responsibilities simply because of their identity. But it does mean that the obligations to show up in this work are different for people of different identities. As a white man who benefits from the current system, I need to both step up to push my fellow white people to vote in a progressive way and to step back so that Black women’s vital messages can be heard.

Our activism will need to shift on November 4th, but we must continue to push our leaders to move us toward the kind of national, state, and local communities that we need. We must do this work centered in and coming out of our individual identities. We must do this work for ourselves, for our families, for our communities. We must do this work for one another.

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