You’re feeling it; we’re feeling it. It's a common tale in the annals of political activism: The passions that fuel a person's initial response to a cataclysmic political act ... say, the election of Donald Trump ... tend to cool over time. What's shocking at first becomes merely annoying upon repetition; the daily onslaught of outrages becomes numbing, rather than bristling. I'm supposed to march again this weekend? They're asking me to make anothercall about Trump's tax returns/Russia ties/demolition of effective governance? Really?!? Can't I rest for the week...or the month...or refocus next year, during election season?
Our struggle is that the Trump administration and congressional Republicans aren't planning to take a rest. In fact, they're counting on us to lose our energy before they lose theirs; they count the days until we take our eyes off the ball, and stop noticing what they're doing. If we stop paying attention, if we retreat into silent despair rather than full-throated activism, Trumpism will gain the breathing space it requires to run amok over the values we hold dear -- diversity, fairness, equality of opportunity, and the economic interests of all Americans.
None of want that to happen.
That's why -- even as Indivisible: Conejo continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and the Conejo Valley's activist community continues to respond with enormous passion to those daily outrages -- we figured it's not too early to offer some tips on staying engaged past Trump's first 100 days. FYI: We haven't even made it through 70 days yet! Let that sink in while you consider these suggestions to help keep our activist fires burning.
1. NARROW YOUR FOCUS. Did you launch yourself wholeheartedly into the resistance, visiting our website's "Join Us" page and checking 5, 10, or even all 15 of the boxes expressing interest in our Issue Action Teams? Thank you for your enthusiasm! But that means you are probably receiving a lot of invitations to a lot of team meetings. We certainly encourage you to experiment, to browse the various issues in search of the ones that resonate most with you. But don't burn out too quickly! If you find your energy flagging, settle on just one or two issues that keep your passions ignited and your desire to contribute going strong.
2. PACE YOURSELF. Once you’ve narrowed your focus you’ll be better able to conserve your mental and physical energy, helping to keep your batteries charged for the important fights to come. Give yourself a break once in a while. Even if you love taking to the streets, it's not essential to attend a rally every weekend! The Trump Tax Returns March and the March for Science are coming up on consecutive weekends in April; if that gauntlet seems intimidating, choose one and skip the other. It's OK; you're forgiven. Sometimes even the most diligent Daily Action caller can't bear the thought of placing one more call to your elected officials. If that’s you, take a day off, and trust that your fellow activists will pick up the slack.
3. CHANGE THINGS UP. Research tells us that phone calls are the most effective way to influence a lawmaker, but a person can only make so many calls a week before burnout ensues. So change things up! Try to get in a few calls each week -- but one day, let your fingers do the walking on a postcard instead of a dial pad. Another day, use the latest cool app that faxes/emails/sends singing telegrams to elected officials. Attend a rally or panel discussion one weekend; another, choose a phone bank party. Give yourself permission to engage in a variety of activities, and you'll avoid burnout and boredom while rounding out our universe of pressure points on the Trump Administration and Congress.
4. LEARN A NEW SKILL. So you’d like to change up your activism, but need some new tricks? Luckily, we're offering just such an opportunity during Indivisible: Conejo's third General Meeting, coming up this Sunday at 2 p.m. (see the calendar). The training we'll provide in Phone Banking, Deep Canvassing, and public education via Letters to the Editor will prepare you for the exciting days ahead, when we turn our focus to taking back Congress in 2018. In fact, our phone banks are starting up next week, in advance of special elections this summer in Georgia, Kansas and elsewhere. (Again, see the calendar for details.)
5. MAKE NEW FRIENDS, AND ENGAGE THE OLD. So many Conejo Valley residents have come to us these last two months and expressed amazement that they aren't alone in feeling driven to activism by Trump's election. Well, you're not alone -- and sharing a passion for resistance is a great way to spark new friendships and intensify relationships with longtime acquaintances. Take advantage of the social opportunities provided by team meetings, phone banks or rallies. Tell your like-minded friends about the Indivisible movement, and bring them into the fold -- then share your stories about the person at the other end of the day's call, plan a social outing around a rally or lecture, or vent your fury at Trump's latest move. There's comfort, as well as invigoration, in sharing your activism with friends!
6. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Get enough sleep. Eat properly. Manage your stress. Go to the movies without guilt. Try not to dwell on the battles we lose -- because there will be many, on the way to winning the broader war for America's future. Celebrate the victories...Michael Flynn's forced resignation, the court rulings smacking down Trump's Muslim bans, last week's collapse of the GOP healthcare bill...and rejoice in the role you're playing in resisting Trump's agenda. Each of us is important to this fight -- but we can only win if we are still standing at the end, mentally, emotionally and physically. So, remember to take time occasionally and look past today's struggles. Hold tight to your goals, your dreams for your children, and your vision for America's future. We're still going to make it all happen -- but only if we maintain our energy and our passion, work together, and remain Indivisible!