Elections are exhausting. The endless ads, the abundant yard signs, and the never-ending vitriol on social media and in the news. It is understandable that most people want (and need) a break. However, long-term change doesn’t happen overnight. Political and policy change doesn’t happen without passionate, committed individuals doing the work every single year to ensure progressive policies are being fought for in their communities.
We get it. Life is busy. But building a consistent, grassroots movement is critical for advancing reproductive health and rights, as well as increasing funding for international family programs.
If we learned anything in the last five years, it’s that elections have consequences. Voter turnout was the highest it’s been in over a century during the 2020 Presidential and 2018 midterm elections. Individuals and organizations built movements and worked to raise awareness about important issues continuously over that last few years. Yet, still only 66 percent of eligible voters actually voted in 2020. Voter suppression is a critical part of the story, but there are many Americans who could vote and choose not to. Furthermore, midterm elections have even lower voter turnout than presidential elections, and often the President’s party losses seat in Congress during the midterms. We cannot let this happen in 2022.
Figuring out how to get involved can feel daunting. A lot of political and advocacy actions simply focus on voting (which is very important!), but the work shouldn’t stop there. In order to ensure our voices are heard, we need to invest time and resources. It’s not just about one specific tactic, like canvassing or voter registration; it’s about building relationships and long-term support in communities.
We cannot scale back our engagement now that President Biden is in office. There is still plenty of work that needs to be done, such as passing the Global HER Act and ending the Helms Amendment. And we need to ensure that the 2022 midterms don’t result in Democrats losing seats in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
Here are some great ways to stay involved and keep up the momentum between federal elections:
Get Involved Locally
Local elections matter! They lay the foundation for national conversations and elections. Activism shouldn’t only happen on the federal level – important decisions are made at the local and state levels that affect individuals everyday lives, such as affordable housing, better education, and access to essential reproductive health care.
State and local elections create the groundwork for movement building and policy change. Local elections happen every year and they need support. A little money and volunteer work go a long way in a competitive local race, and those smaller elections can have outsized consequences.
Take Action and Volunteer
Do your research and find a candidate you like or a nonprofit whose mission you’re passionate about. It can be overwhelming to reach out and get involved, but it makes a difference. The first step is to just see how you can help out – where your skills are needed and how they can be put to use.
Building connections within communities and harnessing personal relationships is key to effecting change and successful organizing. The best way to encourage new people to become activists and organizers is by having someone they know reach out and get them involved. By volunteering early and often you can get a better sense for the needs of your community and how best to advocate for them. Your help and input makes a difference!
- Signing petitions
- Writing letters to the editor
- Engaging on social media
- Donating and hosting events
Contact Your Elected Officials
Voting is about more than who wins and loses — it determines which policies elected officials will support and whose interests they will listen to. Staying engaged with your elected officials throughout the full election cycle is the best way to ensure politicians are focusing on the issues you care about.
Remember that members of Congress work for you. It is so important to take the time to contact your members of Congress on issues you care about and continue to follow up, through phone calls, emails, letters, or meetings. We have the ability to influence their vote on critical legislation like the EACH Act, the Global HER Act, and the Abortion is Heath Care Everywhere Act. Our collective voice can make a difference.
Start by joining #Fight4HER in telling Congress to pass the Global HER Act, which would prevent any future president from reinstating the disastrous Global Gag Rule.
At Population Connection Action Fund, our advocacy work doesn’t end or pause after an election. President Biden rescinded the Global Gag Rule, but we need to pass the Global HER Act, repeal the Helms Amendment, and continue to advocate for increased funding for international family planning programs. When we increase access to reproductive health care, we improve people’s lives—and we improve humanity’s chance for a sustainable future on a livable planet. Our grassroots outreach is critical for building our movement, sharing our message, and continuing the fight for reproductive health care at home and abroad.
If you are interested in getting involved with the #Fight4HER, join us at iwillfight4her.org.