It’s the year of the midterms in the U.S., and since I live in a ‘swing state’ that could decide the majority party in Congress, I am inundated with TV ads – mostly negative – and mailers touting the sins or virtues of all the candidates. Like most people I know, I toss the mailers into the recycling bin and mute the TV.
I miss the optimism of the mid-20th century. Many of us today have been paralyzed by cynicism. What can we older women do to make a difference in this kind of environment? Should I just give up and try to enjoy my old age without getting involved?
Or should I try to improve the world for my kids and grandkids by influencing public policy? Since I chose – you guessed it – to become involved, I have found some easy ways to advance the causes I believe in.
Here are some easy ways to be active and informed:
Join organizations that support your favorite issues and candidates, donating, and writing letters, emails and texts to elected representatives with the information the organizations have already collected. Google the issue to find their websites.
Find out where and when your local government holds public meetings. These days most meetings are held both in person and online, so you can watch from the comfort of home. Many also have public comment periods when you can ask questions or let them know what you think.
Register to vote – by mail, online or in person. Google your municipality and you’ll find loads of help. Encourage or help others by volunteering with groups like the League of Women Voters.
Find a list of candidates and what they stand for by searching for political parties. See which ones speak to your values and contact them to find out how to help them win.
Volunteer for simple tasks like opening mail, stuffing envelopes, or answering the phones or emails.
Be a poll worker and help with logistics on election day. Some places pay these workers and there are sometimes free doughnuts!
Volunteer to drive people to the polls.
There’s so much we can do to keep democracy alive and not be discouraged by the news. Older women often have more time in our retirement years to make a difference.
Bridget Connolly, a political activist who helps voters register, says: “I’ve had so many experiences where every vote counts. If 500 people are registering people to vote in a specific district and we each get 1 person, and a candidate wins by 400 votes, that’s a really big deal.”
Have you ever worked for a cause or a candidate? How was the experience for you? Let’s have a conversation!