Many Ways to Be a Pro-Democracy Activist

If you haven't already, a good place to start in thinking about how you can get involved with the pro-democracy movement is by looking at our page describing the growing movement to strengthen democracy.

Another article in this series discusses how you can make your efforts count. It suggests a process of assessing the large list of things you could do and narrowing it down to the activities that make the most sense for you, that best match your resources, skills, and preferences, as well as local conditions.

Before moving on to that assessment, a few preliminary comments on choosing your path may prove to be helpful.

The struggle to protect, restore and rejuvenate our democracy will extend for a decade or more. The 2024 election presents us with an urgent challenge right now, but even if we ward off the threat of a Trump second term, the democratic restoration we need will require much more fundamental changes. Ultimately we must transform our democracy to the high level of functionality needed to grapple succesfully with the scale and importance of the challenges and opportunities we face.

Long-term engagement is what we need from citizen activists. To sustain a long-term effort, attention must be paid to what is emotionally and practically sustainable.

Many of the individuals who might consider becoming involved in the pro-democracy movement are already deeply committed to other issues, ranging from climate to inequality to racism. Our democratic system is the commons within which all reformers do their work, but that commons has been disastrously neglected and depleted in recent decades. Most activists would benefit from freeing up a portion of their time and resources to reinvest in the health of our democratic commons.

As noted elsewhere, the problem is not a lack of ways to work for what you believe in. When it comes to the pro-democracy movement, the problem many people encounter is too many options. It's like one of those restaurants where it would take you a good half-hour just to really look at the menu, and you have to fight down the impulse to just order the first remotely appealing thing you run across in order to avoid having to deal with too many choices.

So sure, decide what do based partly on what seems most important. But this can lead to burnout if the toll of activities for which you aren't well suited becomes too great. Better to think carefully about what resources you have and how you can develop a role for yourself that you can sustain over time.

Published: August 2019
Revised: July 2023

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