Apps and sources for being politically engaged every day (without all the hassle)
In the wake of the November election, a surge of protests and vigils have been popping up across the country. People are showing up in droves to have their voices heard, on both sides of the isle. Representatives have also reported a much higher concentration of calls and letters to their offices since the election and inauguration, sometimes triple the amount they would get this time last year, from cities like Chicago to whole states like Colorado.
This involvement in the political system is great; our democracy cannot work without a feedback loop between citizens and their elected officials. Our government will better represent us and our concerns, no matter the party, if we stay informed and involved. But how can we go back to our daily lives while still having our voice heard? And how do we make civic action a habit, not a chore?
Luckily, there are actually millions of ways to make activism a part of your daily life, the following being just a few (good) ones.
1. Countable: Hear about recent and future legislation and let your rep know what you think.
Countable is an app which has a simple feed of recent political happenings that updates itself constantly. Get notifications when your representatives vote and learn about how they voted, and easily email them your response right from the app. Just check it in between Facebook and Snapchat, and stay updated on what’s happening in Washington right now.
2. 5calls.org: The easy-to-use website gives you five topics about which to call your representative, and even supplies you with the number and a script.
5 Calls is a left-wing site for finding the most important current happenings and easily contacting your representatives to voice your opinions. Simply enter your zip code, select the topic that matters to you, and 5 calls will give you a script and your rep’s number in the relevant branch of government. You can choose to make all 5 calls every day, or just check in and make the ones that are the most pressing to you. The topics do skew left, so if you lean more conservatively it might not be the best source.
3. Presidential: if you are concerned with keeping track of all of the (many) executive orders of this new white house, look no further than the Presidential app.
Presidential keeps a running feed of all of Trump’s executive orders and actually offers them in their full script. While great for the legislative nut, getting through all of the text can be tough.If you want a more accessible running list, check out this one from Politico, this one from Vice, and this one from CNN (all three will be updated as new orders occur).
4. Daily Action: a facebook page and text service that notify you of one action per day and hook you up to your representative with the click of a button.
Daily Action is a text service that messages you every day and tells you what’s important to let your rep know right now. Sometimes they even send a text an hour or so before a vote goes into the house or senate, so that you can catch your representative’s team when they are still deciding how to vote. It’s considerably less work than 5 Calls, because it texts you and all you have to do it click the link they send you and they’ll brief you on the issue over the phone before they patch you through to your representative’s office. If you’re looking for the quick service, this is it.
5. Wall-of-Us: a weekly email on how to resist Trump’s presidency through four simple actions.
Wall-of-Us, a pun on Trump’s infamous wall, is a website and email service that delivers four weekly actions to your inbox. This is a little less rigorous than Daily Action or 5 Calls because the actions are delivered weekly rather than daily, so you have more time to do them. Like both of those services, it is far-left leaning politically.
6. The Town Hall Project: a huge running google doc where you can search your state and check for upcoming town halls and meetings where your elected official is scheduled to be.
The Town Hall Project is a huge (semi-complicated) google doc which has a running list of all of the upcoming town hall meetings that state representatives will be attending, so you can show up and address your elected official directly. While it does take a little more work to find what you’re looking for, meeting with your rep in person is a much more pointed way to have your voice heard.
Of course, always be diligent in your research, and be sure to get news from different sources. Try to be aware of the fact that many of these action-based platforms and services are leftist at this point in time, and a truly engaged citizen is informed on both sides of every issue.