After last week’s column (“First get mad, then get to work”) a few readers asked, “What can we do?” The familiar litany includes: Vote, inform (yourself and others), donate, write postcards, knock on doors, join a phone bank, assist voter registration efforts, spread the word on social media, call out misinformation and disinformation, protest, become an election worker, and last but not least, write letters to our Viewpoints section.

All are important. Here are a few more:

  • Read Stacey Abrams’ book Our Time is Now, about countering voter suppression.
  • Put up lawn signs that say: “Back Biden” and “Save democracy. Vote Democratic.” We need to get creative with our signage.
  • Vote — it bears repeating — and encourage others to vote. Doesn’t matter if you live in a Blue state; turnout is what matters. The higher the turnout, the clearer the message to the anti-democratic forces (and naysayers): “We’re motivated, we’re mobilized, and we have strength in numbers.”
  • Speak up. Appeal directly to the center-right people in your life: “Help us save democracy. Please vote only for those who are working to preserve and defend democracy. Please vote against those who are so keen to undermine it.”
  • Develop an “elevator speech” and use it when the opportunity arises. Here’s mine:

Elections now are different from those that came before 2020. It’s no longer Republicans vs. Democrats. It’s between those who support the Insurrection and overturning legal, clean elections and those who don’t. Anyone who supports an insurrectionist, also supports his insurrection.

In this election, one party wants to rule, the other wants to govern. One focuses on short-term reward, the other on long-term benefit. One fosters superiority, the other seeks equity. One promotes self-interest, the other aims for the common good. One will destroy this planet while the other will find a way for future generations to live on it.

One worships at the altar of an individual, the other at the altar of social responsibility. One path will lead to ruin, the other to a better country. One has sworn an oath to defend the Chief Insurrectionist. The other has sworn an oath to defend the Constitution.

Both are imperfect. One has given up. The other is trying. One hasn’t got a clue, but the other has a vision.

Which will you choose? Which would your children and grandchildren choose?

Will you reward the Party of Insurrection with your vote?

But it’s not just about what we do. It’s also about what we don’t do:

  • Don’t badmouth Biden. He’s done an excellent job as president thus far (infrastructure, the pandemic, Ukraine, a strong economy, a new Supreme Court justice). Considering the catastrophe he inherited from the criminal incompetent who preceded him, he’s done an extraordinary job, especially given the razor-thin majority he has to work with in Congress. We should highlight and praise his record, not downplay it.

Unfortunately, the pro-democracy coalition I proudly belong to is the most self-defeating group I’ve ever seen. We just came off an amazingly successful election, setting records with vote count (81 million plus) and turnout (66.2%), soundly defeating an incumbent 51-46%, and (barely) winning a Senate majority by electing both candidates in Georgia, of all places. You’d think we’d be encouraged. Instead we’re talking about who should replace Biden in 2024. There’s no one out there, currently, who can do what Biden is doing. And he doesn’t make that many gaffes.

  • Don’t reinforce the notion that the Democrats will get clobbered in the midterm elections. You’re only giving aid and comfort to the anti-democratic forces. It’s bad enough that the mainstream media constantly parrots that refrain (including, sad to say, NPR). You’re helping to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Knock it off.
  • Don’t panic. Don’t get paralyzed. Don’t be silent. Don’t give up.
  • And above all else, don’t be a lousy citizen. This country already has an over-supply of lousy citizens.  

A good citizen is active, not passive. Good citizens love democracy enough to recognize when it is threatened, learn how it is threatened, and then find creative, non-violent ways to defend and preserve it.

You wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t already good citizens. What we need to “do” is find ways to become better citizens — we can always be better citizens.

This is about government of the people, by the people, for the people, which must not perish from the Earth, as Abraham Lincoln, an authentic Republican, once said.

It’s about saving democracy.

If you believe anything, believe this:
Right now our democracy depends on us being better citizens.

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