What We Can Do: The Supplement

My top recommendations for political action organizations to support at any time will always be found here. This page is a list of additional groups that I also currently support and that I’ve recommended in past blog posts.

Congress and the Oval Office are obvious targets for electoral action, but don’t forget the state legislatures. Decisions made at the state level can have profound effects on national politics (for example, through Congressional redistricting) and state legislatures can be the training ground for future candidates for Congress or above (*cough* Barack *cough*). The problem is that there are thousands of state legislative seats in America, so it’s not easy to find the critical, competitive ones. This is where Flippable comes in. They do the legwork so you can give your support to the most important legislative contests in any given year.

Polls show that the young are vastly more progressive than older people. Unfortunately, they also vote in smaller numbers than any other age group. NextGen America, an organization founded by Tom Steyer (his best and most important work for this country, in my opinion) is reaching out to young people in battleground states in order to get them to the polls.

African Americans are another demographic that leans way to the left in its voting. BlackPAC trains community leaders and organizers and works to register, inform, and activate black voters. 

This group arose from the March for Science, and is recruiting, training, and supporting scientists and STEM professionals to run for public office at all levels. Wouldn’t it be great to have more officeholders who have been trained to distinguish fact from fiction?

On the subject of STEM, this group recruits, organizes, and equips high tech professionals to help campaigns with technology. This can range from simply setting up a website and social networking feeds to creating digital ad campaigns to doing sophisticated data analysis of the voter rolls to more accurately target registration and get-out-vote efforts. One of their long term goals is to create software that can be reused by future campaigns. I’m excited not just about the good they’ll do, but over all the high tech professionals they’re going to activate politically (over 11,000 so far!) and all the work those individuals will go on to do in their lives, whether under the auspices of Tech For Campaigns or not..

One of the most dangerous voter suppression tactics is the imposition of a “voter ID” requirement, which adds an extra, unnecessary, and often onerous step to the voting process. Often, this is combined with steps to make getting an ID more difficult for minorities or the poor. One way to fight this is at the policy level, exposing voter ID laws for what they are, or at the electoral level, voting out the politicians who support them, but it’s equally important to simply help those voters who currently find themselves subject to such laws. That’s what this group does: help voters get their IDs, not just for voting but for the many other aspects of modern life that require them.

Postcards To Voters and Vote Forward take a different approach: they allow you to personally send postal mail to potential Democratic voters in key campaigns urging them to get out and vote. They both claim that followup analysis shows this can be highly effective. Interestingly, Postcards To Voters deliberately sends their postcards well before an election, while Vote Forward sends their letters within a week of an election. Each group believes its approach — postcards early vs. letters late — is the best, and you can read their arguments and decide for yourself. (Or participate in both efforts without any danger of overlap!) Note: some of the groups above also organize letter writing campaigns.

Newspapers??? Why am I listing a couple of newspapers here? Because they perform an essential societal function: the uncovering of the facts upon which accountable democracy depends. We’ve gotten used to getting our news for free on the Internet, but most “news” sites are simply regurgitating items that originate elsewhere. Somewhere, at some point, somebody is conducting the primary journalistic investigations that result in the “free” news we see on social media and elsewhere, and it’s important to keep these mechanisms funded.

Many major crimes of Donald Trump were either first unearthed or had significant details revealed by NY Times or Wapo investigative reporting. You might argue that none of their findings made a difference in the end, because both the voters and their elected representatives, on both sides, were going to vote the same way no matter what, but I believe there is still one group strongly influenced by these traditional news sources, and it’s a group that may well have contributed to saving us in 2020.

I’m talking about the Institutionalists: the apolitical, career, service officers that make up the rank-and-file of the American state. It was they who, throughout 2019 and 2020, unprecedentedly spoke up again and again in opposition to the president. It was they who pushed back against his efforts to politicize the Intelligence, Defense, and Justice departments of this country. It was they who made it clear early on that he should not even think about turning his eventual coup attempt into a military coup attempt.

I believe these institutionalists are heavily influenced by news they get from sources they trust.

So even if you can’t bring yourself to subscribe to a printed newspaper, consider paying the small fees to read content online. I listed the New York Times and the Washington Post as two good possibilities, but there are others. If a newspaper or news site is doing original investigative reporting on issues essential for a healthy democracy, consider supporting their work.