"How To: Make A Difference This Upcoming Election"

What does the future of issue-focused change look like?

For so long, we relied on voting the right people in positions of power and trusting that they will vote the right way. However, as soon as the pandemic hit and the world watched in horror to the video of George Floyd, things seem well, existential. Suddenly, these old tactics seem insufficient. Key issues that could be overlooked or placed on the back burner are now screaming alarm bells for the future of democracy.Now, the onus is back on the people to get the issues we care about to the forefront– whether that be racial equity, unequal public school funding or the climate crisis.

And that’s precisely what we are seeing.

Over the past decade, our communities have been struggling with stagnant wages and overwhelmed by the rising cost of living, housing, health care, college and child care. It becomes increasingly clear that our generation is calling for politicians who will fight on behalf of these issues. Advocacy groups are rising to power. People are investing, organizing and engaging in smaller- scale elections–mayoral races, local city council elections, state senate races, congressional races. Activists from all walks of life are coming together to demand that their voices be heard and that politicians be held accountable. It is clear that the system, as it stands, is not working–and we need a major reboot.

So, here are two major ways you can really effect change in the upcoming elections:

      • Really see who is running and evaluate the stance they take on specific issues. What are the issues that matter most to you? What are they saying about these issues? See a ton of platitudes and cliches? Probably not the one. Pass. We have already seen some incredible wins for issue-based candidates. Jamaal Bowman, who focused his campaign on housing, jobs and education for all won in New York, unseating a 20-year corporate incumbent. Research the candidates and don’t just vote according to party lines.
        • Make your voice so loud they can’t ignore you. Sure you may feel like you are speaking for the people, but when you approach politicians individually, frankly, your reach is slim. But if you approach them in groups, your collective voice speaks volumes. Shahid Buttar, an issue-based candidate, is Nancy Pelosi’s first viable election challenger in 30 years. He explains why this collective action is so important stating,
      “Find six people and co sign a letter and send it to your mayor, send it to every person on your city council. And in it, say everything you want them to do. And if it comes from an organized group of people who cosigned a letter, the reason that’s powerful, is that when the officeholder receives it, and individual letter they can pass off to a staffer and say “hey write this person a form letter and say we got their letter” and that’s usually what happens. But when it’s a group, there’s a carrot and stick. The carrot is: play nice with our group and you might have our support. The stick is: ignore us and we are going to replace you. And you can make that explicit”.

      So, your collective are six people in your neighborhood, your workplace, your weekly girls wine night wine sleepover–just find those six people, identify the issue you all care most about and write a letter about it. Keep it concise. Bonus points if it’s hand-written.

      With Love,

      Ashleigh

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