We complain a lot around here about the vast messaging apparatus of the Republican Party: More than a thousand radio stations, Fox News Channel blaring in all kinds of public places, other right-wing networks flourishing on high-number cable channels and YouTube, sending the slanted GOP version of the story going out in multiple languages 24/7. How can we compete with that?
Maybe we are not competing with that.
What we are really competing with is all the conversations individuals have with each other after consuming that nonsense, where they spread lies and confirm each other’s erroneous opinions.
Conversations at the coffee shop, in line at the grocery store, around the dinner table, in the factory lunchroom, on the phone with family and friends, social media messages—this is how the red team built itself into a powerhouse of contact lists and volunteer mobilization.
All this time we have spent wishing we had our own TV network is a throwback to legacy media. We are the network! There are more than 80 million of us! The way we talk to each other and the people around us is what amplifies the Democratic message! We can’t keep waiting for someone else to come along and start something we can all join. We have to start our own activist messaging groups.
start your own cua circle
Your CUA Circle has three simple active weekly goals:
- get the facts
- spread the news
- encourage one another
There‘s no way to know what can be accomplished before the midterms, but we have to start somewhere. Let it be now. The last few months before an election are a good time to begin this kind of project. Get the word started in August, hit the ground running after Labor Day, and make a big push in October. No matter what happens on Nov. 8, we have laid the groundwork for 2024.
the inaugural assignment
Get the Facts
1. Do you know who your state legislative representatives are? Do you know the name of the people representing you right now in your State House and State Senate (or your one rep if you are in Nebraska)?
1A. Are these people up for re-election this year? If not, when are state legislative elections held in your state or commonwealth?
Spread the News
Ask someone else the same first question. You can start with a family member, or someone you know, or someone you work with. If you are the kind of person who is comfortable starting conversations with strangers in public places, go for it. It doesn’t matter if you know whether the person is a Democrat or not, since it’s a non-partisan question.
Ask them if they know who their state reps are.
If they ask why, say you saw this “online politics thing” that said most people don’t know who their state reps are, and that made you curious so you looked up the names of your reps. If you were surprised by the information, add that, too.
Possible follow-up: “Everyone is talking about the elections for Congress, but it’s the state legislature making all these new laws about ballot access, and abortion, and what can be taught in schools” (note: so far you have not said anything about where you stand on those issues).
If a conversation continues, great. If they volunteer where they stand, then you can say where you stand. If it sounds contentious, back off and drop it. “Hey, I wasn’t trying to start an argument or anything. I admit I never thought much about it before until the Supreme Court started throwing everything back to the states. Now the State legislatures are more important than they’ve ever been.”
If you had a good conversation, you planted a seed. But even if you had an argument, you may have sparked their curiosity. At the very least, you spread some factual news—and that is always a win.
Encourage One Another
This assignment is even simpler and will be the same every time. Find someone who is working on an issue that is important to you, and give them a word of encouragement.
Tell a volunteer you appreciate their long hours, thank a politician for voting the right way, tell someone their blog post gave you important information.
Write a protest song that inspires people to be activists, draw a cartoon that lets us laugh at our adversaries, create a piece of art that fires people up, or one that is just restful and relaxing to behold—but make sure you share it somehow. Even if with just one other person. Find something encouraging that someone else wrote or drew or shared and keep passing it along.
we are the communication network
It doesn’t seem like much, and naysayers will call it stupid because it looks small next to the established communication networks the red team has built over decades. But we all know how the journey of a thousand miles starts.
And in fact the journey starts before that first step. It starts with a change in mindset that says your single step is worth it because it connects to a greater journey. It starts with being determined that all the small steps each of us take will add up to reaching the destination.
It starts with deciding that you are not irrelevant. It starts with knowing that you can look up factual information and share it just as efficiently as anyone else. It starts with realizing that you can and do have the ability to influence people. It starts with believing that everything you do and say either builds the world up or tears the world down.
Let’s build something.
Getting facts, spreading the word, and offering encouragement will draw people to you. Your goal is not to start arguments, but to spark curiosity and spark interest and create a circle of well-informed people around you who will then spread the information even further. It won’t take long for folks to figure out you are the one to ask for political information: that you always know who the candidates are, when the registration and voting deadlines are, how the local and national issues connect—and the more often you get it right, the more they will trust you.
If that’s already your reputation in your circle of friends, you have an advantage!
Even if that’s not your reputation (yet), your CUA circle already exists. It starts with YOU. You are enough to get a circle started.
Yes, the political situation looks very difficult right now, but we are not giving up in advance. Let’s fight back with what we have. We outnumber them.
I’m tired, but I won’t sleep tonight / cause I still feel alive