Five Ways to Channel Your Energy Into Activism

So you voted. Here’s what’s next.

11.16.16
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In just one blurry week since the election, we have accelerated through four of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression. The fifth one, acceptance, is where many of us are stuck. Some politicians and Oprah are calling for us to accept the results so that we can move forward. It’s a controversial message to send; it feels like a second defeat. But there is alternative to acceptance in this case: taking action. Below, five ways to channel your grief into energy, into activism.

1. Vote small.

Cast your vote in every freaking election that you’re allowed to, at the local, state and federal level.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for re-election every two years. Find yours here.

All 100 seats in the Senate are up for re-election every six years. They are separated into three classes (I, II, III), with each class on the ballot every two years. Find yours here.

Your governor is up for re-election every four years (unless you live in Vermont or New Hampshire, where it’s every two). And state legislation ballot measures and other elections (like your state’s attorney general and secretary of state) usually align with the presidential or the mid-term elections. Go to your state’s website and learn how your state government works.

County and city elections also usually align with presidential or mid-term elections. Find your locals government sites and stay informed.

For more general info, here’s a Wikipedia page that outlines how all our country’s elections work, and on what cadence.

2. Give some time away.

Find something you connect with — tutoring kids, working at a soup kitchen, cleaning up the environment, escorting at an abortion clinic, mentoring teens, helping animals — and commit to a rhythm.

Check out these national organizations. Visit volunteermatch.org.

Sign up at fighttrump.co to receive periodic emails (you choose the frequency) that highlight ways to get involved that speak to the issues you care about.

Or, more effectively, Google “volunteer in [your city]” and find your local programs.

Pick something, invite a friend, put it in your calendar, do it.

3. Give some money away.

Here’s our list of places you can donate.

Here’s Slate’s list, broken down by what you’re worried about.

Here’s Jezebel’s list, of “pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-Earth, anti-bigotry organizations that need your support.”

Most of these orgs have the option to donate monthly, if you can manage it. Or go to your reminders app, set one that says “Pick something, do it now, 💸💸💸,” and make it reoccur every week or month. Don’t even tell anyone about it. Just do it.

4. Protest that shit.

Our right to protest and peacefully assemble is one of the oldest tenets of our democracy. Exercise that right. When you disagree with the decisions that are being made or at risk of being made, picket, march, rally, walk out, sign petitions.

Find your local activist groups on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, then follow them and join the fight.

Here’s Rolling Stone’s “Why Anti-Trump Protests Matter.”

And, in the worst case, here’s ACLU’s guide on what to do if your rights are violated at a demonstration or protest.

5. Stay vigilant.

Stay informed. Listen to the experiences of people who are different from you. Educate yourself and others. Stay clued into your own implicit biases and fight them tooth and nail. Question yourself. Question authority. Question the media. Stay angry, stay passionate.

And finally, here’s a list of concrete suggestions in preparation for January, organized by demographic. Warning: it’s exhaustive. We need exhaustive.

Illustration by Emily Zirimis.

Get more Pop Culture ?
  • Thank you! I may have already said this on here but my friends and I started a “do good club” following the election results as a way to turn our emotions into action. tonight’s the first meeting, I’ll read this to them!

  • This act, like the petitions, will most likely not change the outcome, but it will add a necessary explanation and pressure: a group of us have been emailing and writing actual letters to members of the electoral college in key states. We all may as well send along our respectful but firm and arguments!!!

    Thanks for this list, H dawg.

  • Taste of France

    YES! And honestly, #2 is a ton of fun. I was a campaign volunteer back in the day (liberal? go left, and then go left some more). It was a lot of stuffing envelopes, and phone banks but I loved it. People power is important. But also #1, which is how a lot of these bozos get into higher office–they establish themselves at a lower level and then gain credibility. Just as DT did, though he just milked the media and didn’t bother with voters until now. (Keeping in mind that he lost the popular vote.). Anyway, make sure your dogcatcher doesn’t want to revoke the 19th Amendment, which I understand is a new movement.

  • I set up the other night monthly donations to 4 organizations: Planned Parenthood, NAACP, Trevor Project, and the NRDC. I’m hoping to do something locally as well. I think it is important for people to stay vigilant and to not get used to things too much.

    I read the Buzzfeed interview that was published (unedited) with Steve Bannon, and I really want to point out his belief around a Judeo-Christian society and his belief in the “traditional marriage movement”. He is anti-abortion, likely anti-gay, and will not be a huge protector of women’s rights if it means a woman going “against” a man. That’s really really important to note. Don’t fall pray to Islamophobia. There are extremists on all parties and religions. We can’t let ourselves be divided by fear and prejudice, because that’s exactly what continues perpetuating hatred and war.

  • Eva Skewes

    I would add CALL YOUR REPS to this. Calling is much more effective than emailing, writing, or tweeting, since it ties up staff time. All offices also keep a record of how many are calling and what they’re calling about. They can often use it later when justifying support for an issue, or calling someone out. It’s been very effective in regards to Steve Bannon over the past few days.

    • Beatrice

      I told the people I spoke to at my reps office that they better get used to hearing from me, as we’ll be talking a lot in the coming months. The intern laughed and I was like “I’m not kidding, talk to you next Wednesday!”

  • Alison

    We got organized! My colleague and I drafted an open letter to the university president to protect DREAMers and their families. So much better than moping about. And collaborating with students always helps me to be a better teacher.

    Love this post. Keep up the good work, Haley!

    • Beatrice

      EMMA I just posted this exact same thing I’m happy so many are seeing this spreadsheet!

  • Beatrice

    Yes!!!! To all of this!!
    If you’re looking for a direct political outlet:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/174f0WBSVNSdcQ5_S6rWPGB3pNCsruyyM_ZRQ6QUhGmo/htmlview?usp=embed_facebook&sle=true

    Call your congressmen and women!!! This Google sheet has scripts, phone numbers, strategy, you name it. I called my rep, my Senators, and the House Speaker and Majority leader. Make sure whoever you speak with logs your call, and if no one picks up, leave a voicemail. MR ladies, we have voices. Let’s use them.

  • Minnie

    Can you please stop commenting on the election and instead got back to actually posting things a fashion site should? This is getting incredibly tiresome – especially for those who actually voted for Trump, because shock horror there are fashion forward women out there who did this very thing.

    • Orthostice

      If you don’t like it you can go home.

    • kitmcc

      Please try to understand the majority (yes, popular vote wise) are still in complete shock and horror that the candidate who bullied, fear mongered, and lied his way to the most powerful position in the world while being unable to speak in a complete coherent sentence, is going to be our next President. People aren’t ready to just ‘move on’ and back to life as usual.

  • Lynn

    Thank you for continuing to comment on the election. Nothing about the transition to an authoritarian state is normal. Nothing about racism committed in our name is acceptable. Enshrining misogyny and anti-semitism at the head of government should boil our blood… and boiled blood is not a Good Look.

    Count me grateful that MR is posting things a fashion site should.

  • Traditionally, women are THE multitasking sex, so.

  • emw

    Thank you for this! I think as many influential people/organizations as possible need to be encouraging everyone to get engaged and stay engaged. Channel your fear, anger, and anxiety. “Question the media.” Absolutely. Do not expect everything your hear/read to be accurate or the whole story. The mainstream media has moved swiftly to normalize this presidency. He who shall not be named has frightening authoritarian tendencies and this is not being covered at all in the mainstream media. Please look up Sarah Kendzior on twitter – she researches authoritarian regimes in Central Asia and has important things to say about this election and presidency. Thank you, thank you, thank you, MR for keeping this in our headspace.

  • Thank you <3

  • xtyb

    Thank the internet for you guys. We need to do actions. The time for ribbons and slogans has passed. I am embarrassed by a recent post on Vogue–can I get my Christmas present early and will you please write something about that? The one about safety pins with a slideshow of a bunch of $1,000 stuff. Seriously?