Representative Democracy

Earlier this week, we had planned for this week’s blog post to showcase another nook/cranny of Cornelia Funke’s Writing Barn. But the world’s been even more tumultuous than we had hoped it would be, and we feel compelled to direct our attention toward the week’s current events.

(We’d also like to note a Content Warning: this blog post includes discussion of the ongoing, concerning, prevalent issue of sexual violence*, which may be sensitive or triggering for some readers.)

After Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony in the hearing yesterday, and the vote to push a problematic judicial nomination to the floor of the Senate today, we thought it might be useful to take a moment to talk about the ways we can all** participate in representative democracy.

Whether you’ve been voting for years or just became eligible to vote, there are a variety of ways to let your representatives know where you stand. Perhaps the most obvious way, of course, is voting—be a voter!—but did you know that the information made available to voters varies state by state, and that there’s been growing concern about voters being purged from state records this year? With that in mind, there’s this great tool at VoteSaveAmerica.com, which lets you check to make sure you’re registered before your state’s registration deadline! The VSA website also has information on candidates, volunteer opportunities, and educational resources for those of us (this writer included!) who may be relatively newer to volunteering and to voting.

There are also a number of effective ways to reach out to congressional representatives! Here are just a few:

  1. Call the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121 ) to talk to your representative and senatorial offices. Phone calls from constituents are considered more effective than emails (likely because they’re more disruptive), but only if they’re from a member’s actual constituents (and here’s why).

  2. Use IssueVoter to receive email alerts about issues you care about and send your opinion on new legislation directly to your rep. Another useful resource along the same lines is called Countable.

  3. Attend a town hall meeting. Congressional representatives typically hold semi-frequent town halls in order to talk directly to constituents. Going is a great way to voice your support or disapproval of their legislative actions!

Outside of talking to our representatives and voting, another great way to make our voices heard in government is to volunteer on campaigns for candidates who share our values. Organizations like Indivisible and Swing Left have been putting together tons of volunteer dates for phone banking, text banking, and canvassing across the country. VoteSaveAmerica also lists a ton of these opportunities—we found their site really helpful (all you have to do is put in your zip code to find opportunities near you!).

These are just a few of the organizations/opportunities happening across the US. We hope you’ll join us this fall in being voters and making our voices heard!

*We know it’s been an enormously difficult week for many people. Remember that, as much as it’s important to stay informed, mental health is also deeply important. Personal limits are different for everyone, and it’s okay to unplug and take time for self care. If you’re a survivor of sexual violence, this week was probably particularly traumatic. RAINN, the nonprofit that runs the National Sexual Assault Hotline, has reported a 57% increase in calls last weekend, and an over 200% increase in calls on Thursday, the day Dr. Ford testified about her experience of sexual violence. All of us here at BB stand with survivors—we believe you, and we support you.

**We know millions of Cornelia’s readers are American, but recognize that millions more are from countries all around the world. No matter your nationality, we hope you’ll join us in a renewed commitment to lifting our collective voices through voting to express our views to those who govern.