raising your voice
January 21, 2003 02:39 PM

Kerri asked via comments the other day what I thought people could do to make their opinions heard.

Here are some of those ways.

Stay informed
Track your congressperson's voting record. It's readily available online for the US Congress and for most other democratically elected officers in the US and elsewhere.

Join citizens' action groups related to your primary political interests. I keep up to date on events via FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), Citizen Works (Green Party), NOW & Feminist.org (Feminist Majority Foundation), and Planned Parenthood. Most political groups have websites and mailing lists you can join without even joining the organization.

Get your news from at least two different sources in at least two different media. I use CNN, NPR, and the Guardian. And, of course, Lisa's We Have Brains news posts. Plus the Daily Show and The Onion (hey, news can be funny!).

Read books. Read lots and lots of books. Magazines, too. And blogs. Never stop researching and reconsidering.

Ask stupid [and not so stupid] questions.

Hold your government accountable
Vote. In every election. Your vote is your most obvious opinion.

Write letters. Email letters. Call people. Not only your congressperson, but any other elected official and any company whose products you consume. Tell them when they're doing well or poorly on a specific issue. Remember that you're their customer, and remind them of that fact.

Join a letter-writing collective like Progressive Secretary. Get friends to join. This amplifies the power of your voice by delivering the same message from several different people.

If you feel strongly about something, go to protests, conferences, and demonstrations. If you can't take the time, send money to the organizers so someone else can go in your place.

Become a dues-paying member of the organizations you most strongly agree with. That increases their clout as political action groups - the more people they count as members, the more power they possess.

Buy products from companies that support your political views. There's a host of information on the internet about companies' social and political contributions that you can use to feed your shopping habits.

Share your opinion locally
Start a blog. Start a zine. Start a book group. Join a group. Start something that you share with other people. It will promote discussion, allow you to develop your opinions, and potentially convert others to seeing things your way.

Don't hesitate. Yes, there are some situations in which expressing a political opinion is inappropriate (mid-meeting at work, for instance), but don't be afraid to tackle political subjects when the occasion arises with friends, family, even vague acquaintances.

Wear your opinion. T-shirts, bumperstickers, and buttons are obvious signs of your affiliations.

Honestly listen to people. Don't just wait to tell your opinion - hear what others have to say, too. It's surprising sometimes how much people actually agree when they think they're disagreeing.

Got other suggestions? Post them in the comments. That's a means of sharing your opinion, too.

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your wicked thoughts

Thanks! I'm going to look at that Progressive Sec. link. There were a lot of things you listed that never occured to me, so thanks for putting this up.

these are the thoughts of kerri on January 22, 2003 11:13 AM

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