This past weekend, I dived in to my new role as social and political activist. It was exhilarating. It was inspiring. It was frustrating.
The day after the inauguration, women and men around the world rallied in solidarity of women, in protest of the election, in support of all the important things that are under threat. That day, I was so proud of my country, my state, my community. Living in one of the least populated states in the U.S., organizers were expecting maybe 4,000-5,000 marchers on January 21. Instead, 10,000 showed up. It was incredible. I saw people from all walks of life in the capital, and it was exhilarating to be a part of it. My fear is that the momentum from that day is fading.
Since the Women’s March, I’ve done the following:
- Participated in Senator Steve Daines’ tele-town-halls
- Protested at Senator Daines’ office because he won’t hold an in-person town hall
- Attended a Montana state legislature recap presentation
- Attended the Montana Democrats Special Nominating Convention
- Attended the campaign kick-off for Rob Quist
- Participated in a Coordinated Day of Action for Rob Quist (phone banking)
- Attended the ACLU People Power Resistance Training
- Called my representatives in both the state legislature and Congress
What has been so frustrating about many of these events I’ve gone to is that while I am there, not many of my peers are. I recognize that I’m in a unique position compared to many (I no longer have an 8-5 job, for one thing). I recognize that everyone is busy with competing priorities. I get it. But, my peers were at the Women’s March in January. They are on social media, voicing dissent. They express concern in one-on-one conversations. So why aren’t they at more of these events? If it’s because they don’t agree, I’ll respect their perspective and hope to have a clarifying conversation about why. If it’s because they don’t know where to start, I get that. If it’s because they are too intimidated to put themselves out there, let’s talk.
Some of these things were incredibly intimidating, most notably the phone banking for Rob Quist’s campaign for U.S. Congress. It was terrifying to cold call voters in Gallatin county, even knowing that most wouldn’t answer the phone, and those that did were likely Democrats and would be receptive to my call. I’ve grown up in the generation that doesn’t use the phone – we use email and social media to connect with our friends and peers, so the phone is intimidating and in many ways, unfamiliar. And yet, after a while, the person on the other end wasn’t as scary and I took less and less time between dials to work up the nerve to press send.
But I must keep pressing send, and I must keep showing up, because if I don’t, if we don’t, our democracy will continue to disappear. We must keep the momentum strong, and we must keep doing things that push our comfort zone.