2 weeks until Election Day
If you haven’t yet, please start from the first part of this piece.
After the abrupt awakening of the 2016 election, I lurched around for a bit, as you do in the morning. I now knew that I needed to do more than I had been, but I didn’t yet know what to do. I stumbled across news about some people who were writing to members of the Electoral College, and I decided to join in this doomed, last-ditch effort to keep Trump from the Presidency. I wrote 53 letters to electors from five different states, asking them to cast their vote for anyone other than Trump in the Electoral College decision in December 2016, as is their right according to the Constitution and most state laws. Of course, there were no defections, and Donald Trump was given all the electoral votes he was assigned in the November election.
On January 20, 2017, Trump was sworn in as President, and the next day I participated in the first Women’s March, here in Chicago. It was heartening to see the gigantic crowds and to hear the news of 250,000 people flooding the streets of Chicago in an outpouring of rage at the new President. And still, the question remained for me — what was I to do?
The first inkling I got of a long-term effort was when I received an email from a friend encouraging a number of us to take action by calling our elected representatives. I had never done this before, and I felt nervous about the possibility. What would it be like? Did I know enough to make a request of a Representative or Senator? But she laid out simple instructions, and I dove in with a call to the office of my US Representative, Danny K. Davis. I got notices of other lists and a new group called Indivisible. Gradually, I made calls, emails, and letters to my elected officials part of my weekly schedule.
In mid-2017, I heard about an organization pushing for a solution to climate change called carbon fee and dividend. This organization, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, has been working on a durable, bipartisan way to address climate change for over 10 years. I joined my local group, writing letters to the editor of various newspapers to advocate for passage of legislation that would slow and reverse rising carbon emissions and global temperatures.
In 2018, with the midterm elections coming, I heard calls for canvassers to head out to the western suburbs to support Congressional candidate Sean Casten. As a life-long introvert, I never would have thought about canvassing in the past, but now it felt like something I should consider. I geared up the courage and, although I did not become a regular, pushed myself to go out and canvass for Democrat Sean Casten one day in late October 2018.
In 2019, I started this blog, using it as a platform to speak about my commitments to racial and climate justice. I took to posting my writing on social media and sending it in to our local newspaper to push these conversations among those I knew and in my local community. As a white man, I could use my voice to advocate for organizations led by and voices of Black activists and other people of color.
I had taken actions that made me nervous, had pushed myself into activism in some small ways. I knew that each of these actions, and even all of them taken together, were very small in scope. My hope was that I had started to be part of a larger movement, contributing towards larger goals. But 2020 was coming. I had to do more — we all had to do more — to make an even bigger and more meaningful impact.
Please check out the next part of this piece.
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