Threats to our democracy, both foreign and domestic, continue to grow. Stand Up Republic (SUR) has staked out its place as defender of our democracy, but to be successful, SUR depends on the efforts of everyday Americans to assist in that effort.
Making a difference on political issues in your city, state, or country, is much easier when you have the support of many people working with you. Oftentimes political and civic leaders will not act on an issue unless there is clear support for the issue from the people. For activists and others trying to gather support for the causes they’re pursuing, getting others on board can be a difficult task.
Stand Up Republic regularly asks our supporters to take action on a variety of issues, but there is always much more you can do. While you may have participated in one of our advocacy events in Washington, DC, there are activities you can engage in all year long at home. Whether you attend a town hall, meet with your representative’s district office, or host an event for your local community, there are many ways you can stand up to defend our democracy.
To get started, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Who will you reach?
Knowing your audience is key. To identify your audience, you need to consider what you’re aiming to accomplish. Are you trying to teach older voters that voting by mail is safe? Or are you trying to teach young people about the importance of voting? Or is it something totally different? Once you have identified your target audience, you can then best decide how to reach them.
To tailor your message to your audience, you will need to know how you would like to reach your potential advocates. You can share your message through videos, opinion pieces, rallies, or even in personal conversation. Is your target audience younger? If yes, then reaching them on Instagram or Snapchat could be good options. If your target audience is older, maybe reaching out to them in person at a town hall style meeting or creating a Facebook group could be best.
A hook is used in messaging to catch people’s attention, drawing them in and making them want to continue to hear your message. Let’s say you’re messaging about the right to vote. Starting off with a history of voting in ancient Greece would be a boring and unengaging way to start. Instead, starting off by showing the damage caused by recent efforts to suppress the vote across the country is a much more engaging and relevant hook.
Educating on the Issue
In order to effect change as an activist, you first need to get others to care about the issues facing our democracy. Before someone can care about something, they have to know what the issue is. We cannot expect wide swaths of the population to support our cause if they aren’t even aware there is a problem.
You do not need to share everything you know about the cause you’re supporting, you just need to share enough for your audience to adequately converse with political leaders, or others about the issue. If you’re teaching your audience about voter suppression efforts, explaining how legislation which shortens the window to vote early or limits the number of drop boxes in a given county, are two good examples of how you could teach about the issue. You should be able to explain to your audience, what the problem is and how to take action to fix it. While advocates don’t have to be experts in a particular topic, you should be able to provide your audience with additional resources so they can learn even more on their own.
A gripping and informative meeting is meaningless if it fails to inspire action. Oftentimes audience members cannot be left to figure out what it is they are to do with the information you have given them and therefore you must direct them. You should finish the meeting by asking them to take what they learned and to act. This could mean anything from signing a petition, scheduling meetings with legislators, going to a rally, or holding a fundraiser for the cause. The excitement and energy of the audience has a short half-life, and if your audience fails to be engaged in the work, the energy may be lost.
Many times, great ideas or causes gain no traction or support because proponents fail to educate and inspire would-be supporters. Whether it’s a two minute long explanatory video, or a conversation with a friend, to get people to support the causes you care about, you need a hook to draw them in, good information to teach them, and you need to get them to act. People cannot help you with the causes you care about until you show them why they should care and what they can do about it.