by Kevin Kennedy
I could ask the questions, “Why are you a Democrat?”; or, “What is it that brings you to vote for Democratic candidates?” Some might look at those questions and think that, in these times, the answer is obvious and a one word answer is sufficient.
But we all know that it is more than just a disdain for what that other party does. A personal reflection to identify why you think of yourself as a “Democrat” is a good thing to do. That process reinforces us in who we are, and also makes us ready to educate others about us.
Individually, and as a group, we have experienced years of crisis, anxiety, fear, and just plain anger. It is understandable to want to withdraw from those kinds of feelings, but a better choice is to do something. Doing more to help is good for our cause, but there is also a personal benefit: Doing “something” to support Democratic principles and help the Resistance makes us active participants, not powerless victims. AND — channeling anxiety/frustration/anger into what we do, makes us feel vital.
Here are 10 things we can do as Democrats to help our cause — and to feel more empowered:
1) Become a member of the Winchester-Frederick County Democratic Committee (WFCDC): It’s an act of “joining” with others, especially needed in this time of pandemic. You will be interacting with like-minded people, and you will probably makes some new friends! In addition, you will find yourself to be energized by being around energetic and committed people. There IS strength in numbers, and every new Member brings their own personal knowledge, skills and perspective. Our Membership total last year was 366. That size of Membership enables us to be a stronger presence in the City and the County and also to provide strong financial support to our Democratic candidates.
2) Do things to support Democratic candidates: Put campaign signs in your yard and/or bumper sticker(s) on your vehicles; Volunteer to go door-to-door or make phone calls or help with mailings for the candidate (s); Talk about Democratic candidates with relatives, friends, neighbors, and other people you know. Step up and be proud of the candidate(s) whom you like. Enthusiasm is contagious!; Donate money to candidates (and/or to WFCDC).
3) Discuss the issues with people you know: Talk to people you know about the things that are happening in our country. Some of your friends — and maybe even some relative s– may not know that you are a Democratic thinker. When you have conversations with these other people, I predict that you’ll find that your exchanges become lively and satisfying!
4) Discuss the issues with people you don’t know: After you become comfortable with talking to people that you know, you can begin to initiate conversations with people you don’t already know. This is not as difficult as some might think. Don’t jump right in with a subject which could be contentious. You could thank a person in the grocery store for wearing a mask. You could refer to something which recently happened as “interesting”. The person’s response should give a clue to their perspective. You could ask someone from church or work, etc, if he/she has voted yet.
5) Encourage others to join WFCDC: and to help promote Democratic causes. It’s a good idea to already be a Member yourself. Then you can speak personally about why you joined and what you like about being part of our group. Begin with people that you know vote Democratic. Some people will have never thought to join. Some people may be reluctant. I don’t encourage putting pressure on people to join, but it would be good for me to know why people might feel hesitant. If you get into a productive exchange as a result of #3 or #4, you could suggest to someone who appears to be a “good Democrat” that they join WFCDC. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you get a question from someone which you’re not sure how to answer.
6) Write A Letter to the Editor: This is an important way to stand up for Democratic values. It has been demonstrated clearly to me over the years that people DO read the Star, so what people like us have printed becomes part of the community conversation. It is especially important to have rebuttals to letters which are hateful towards Democrats — or are peddling lies or distortions. Even a short letter of 3 or 4 sentences makes an important statement.
7) Get Out The Vote: Work with others in your neighborhood (or Precinct or Ward) to help in getting out the vote and increasing the Democratic presence where you reside. This may involve calling or knocking on the doors of neighbors that you don’t already know. Doing this with 1 or more other Democrats in your neighborhood will make it easier to get started, if you are unsure, and the experience of doing this will ultimately feel good. Guaranteed. After you have done these things, you can cap it off by volunteering to help with the “Democratic presence” on Election Day. That can be a very important way to help.
8) Model Democratic Values: Showing tolerance for differences, generosity to the less fortunate, and by listening to those who think differently from you will gratify Democratic-thinking people. We have all noticed and/or experienced selfish actions and/or rudeness during this time of trump, and it has not been pleasant. WE can be the ones who model kindness, empathy, and respect.
9) Preserve The Environment: Democrats care about preserving the natural environment. Republicans sometimes give lip-service to protecting the environment. Show that you are a Democrat by making sure that your actions support the health of the environment and never contribute to its degradation: recycle every chance you get; don’t waste electricity; reduce your consumption of gasoline and other carbon-based fuels. Encourage others to do the same.
10) Last and not least: Vote for Democratic candidates! Make sure that nothing gets in the way of your voting. Unlike Texas, Georgia, and Florida, Virginia’s Legislature has passed laws which make it easier to vote than it has ever been. We keep being told every year, “This Election is really important!” Because of Republicans’ actions, especially in recent years, every Election IS important. So, cast your vote, and then take the next step by keeping in contact with your Democratic relatives, friends, and neighbors to make sure that they vote, too.
Each of us have done some of these things, and that is good. Some Democrats have done a great many of these things, and that is outstanding! If it is possible for each of us to do even more, just think of what that would mean for our community, our State, and for the whole Country!
I can’t think of a more important time to “up our game”.