Staying (Getting?) Involved



Are you feeling outraged? Alarmed? Concerned? Curious? Depressed?

In two days, the 45th President of the United States will take the oath of office. I will probably listen to the proceedings of the day on the radio, for I’ll be barreling down the highway to Washington DC.  I  feel deeply the need to get involved.

I am more politically energized since the election than I have been in over forty years. Why? Because so much is at stake. The life I have been privileged to take for granted is no longer guaranteed to me.

For me, having a goal, doing the “next right thing” helps keep me sane when life feels like it’s careening off center (after I sit in silence for at least 45 minutes and journal). Today, I’m wanting to help us focus on just what that “next right thing” will be.

Of course, what that “next right thing” will be for YOU will depend on you: your priorities, your energy level, and your level of commitment.

I’ve written elsewhere about the importance of staying vigilant, of taking care of ourselves, of staying informed, and of listening.

I’ve written here in Speaking out with Your Checkbook, about finding organizations that are already working in the issue areas you care about and supporting them. Get on their radar; they will feed you action steps. These are still important.

But now it’s time to move to the next step: Getting Involved. I want to suggest you start here, with this website.


Click on the image and it’ll let you download the content in either a .docx file or a .pdf file.  That’s first for today.  Reading it is next. Tomorrow is OK.  No; on second thought, better read it today. Time is of the essence.

Do you know who your Legislators are?  Your Members of Congress, or MoCs, as they are known inside the beltway.

We’re talking about an action step that may very well change the mind of an important, fence-sitting legislator.  At the least, they will give you something else to do when you might otherwise want to curl up and suck your thumb.

We’re talking about writing letters and making phone calls.  Reaching out. Speaking out. Letting your voice be heard. And doing it in a reasoned, organized, sane, and civilized manner.

The bottom line: KNOW WHO YOUR REPRESENTATIVES ARE, both Federal and State.  Let them hear from you. You are their constituent: they work for you. And we’re talking today about letting your representative’s office know that you are watching them.  You are paying attention and you will hold them accountable.  That’s all.


Do you know their names? Do you know which Congressional District you are in?  How many Congresspeople a state has is based on population.  These districts are remapped every 10 years, following the census and over the decades this process has become more and more political. But, I digress.  Here in Vermont, we have one Congressman for the entire State (hello Peter Welch). My two Senators are Bernie Sanders (yes; feel the Bern) and Patrick Leahy.

Do you have the phone number of their local office? 

Here are two sites that can help you find their number:   (don’t go there now; come back later).  I imagine your phone book would have it too.  Does anyone have a phone book anymore?

  • Call To Action — A brand new, super-easy web app that connects you with your Congressional representative with just a tap. It also provides a template for what you might say.
  • — This site will help you see who represents you in Congress. It also provides the full list of Representatives and Senators for each State and District.

Here’s your pop quiz for today: 

Choose an issue you care the about. (Need a list? See the one below)

Find out how your MoC feels about that issue.  Are they informed, at least? In support of or opposed? Do you feel heard when you talk to their office?

It’s time you found out AND it’s time to let your representatives know where you stand. Even if they agree with you. (It’s actually as important to let your representative know if you agree with him or her as it is if you disagree.)  I can explain that in the Comments, if anyone asks. The Indivisible document I linked to above will also explain that.

So many issues, so little time.

Immigrant Rights
 Women’s Rights
LGBTQ Rights
Gun Rights
Racial Justice
Economic Justice
Criminal Justice
Police Reform
Health Care Reform
Climate Change
The Environment
National Security/Foreign Affairs

Feel free to add more in the Comments below.

Fortunately, you don’t have to take on all of them.  Just one.  One for now.

Now make that call (or write that letter) and ask what your MoC’s position is on it. Let them know how you feel in this current political climate. Let them know you are paying attention, that you want them to do the right thing. And that you and your friends vote.

How about you? Or, what motivates you to action? What keeps you from calling or writing?  Can you add to my list of issues?  Surely there are more. 



[box] Interested in reading At Home on the Kazakh Steppe? I hope so.

Click here for the PAPERBACK and eBook versions.

Amazon makes it easy. And, you can always order it from your local independent bookstore.

If you’ve read it, and enjoyed it, a review on Amazon would be much appreciated.   [/box]

I never expected this Blog to become so overtly political. But critical times call for critical action, IMHO. In the Comments section, please feel free to express your opinion on just how political you want this to be.

January 25: The March on Washington. My Personal Reflections
February 1: My Proposed Mission Statement.  Learn what the future holds for And So It Goes.
February 8: My first guest post for the new year.

14 Responses

  1. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    Janet, thanks for the nudge and all the good links. Our local Congressman attends my church and I have his ear every Sunday. He lights a candle every time he attends Mass. I was encouraged to see an open letter to DT from the National Press Corps spelling out in detail their plan to not put up with his crap. If I can find the link, I’ll post it in the comment section. I’ll be with you in spirit during the March. Onward!

    • Merril Smith
      | Reply

      Kathy, I saw that letter, too, last night on FB.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I’d love the link, Kathy. Thanks.

      As I envisioned your congressman lighting that candle, I couldn’t help think, “How very American.” Though I wonder if he is open to political conversation while worshipping? I’d guess not. I am enjoying the image of you coming up to him while lighting that candle, to remind him how devastating it will be if the ACA is repealed. How fortunate you are, but there are millions … and on you would go, educating him, teaching him while the candle drips. Then there are your two Senators. 🙂

      Thanks for posting, Kathy. And thanks for your good wishes.

  2. Marianne STamm
    | Reply

    That quote from Desmond Tutu really hit the mark with me… good for you!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thank you Marianne. And welcome back. It’s been awhile. I’ve been off to visit your website and hope others do the same. What an interesting life you have led.

      Thanks for mentioning the Tutu quote. It is a good one. Reminded me of the one the Black Panthers put out in the late 60s: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

      Desperate times call for desperate measures.

  3. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    Thank you for all the tips, Janet. I’ve read that guide, but now I’ve downloaded it. I’ve made some calls, but not regularly. I’ve read that calls are more effective than letters, e-mails, or petitions, although Paul Ryan’s phone lines never seem to be open, so I guess it depends. I am so not a joiner or outgoing person, I really have to push myself.

    I’m planning on doing the Philadelphia march, so we can compare stories. 🙂

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Calls to your own MoC, absolutely. I know what you mean in needing to push yourself. With my stuttering history, the phone still holds some conditioned response for me that I recall each time I pick it up. But it really does get easier the more you do it.
      And this is so important.

  4. Frank Moore
    | Reply

    The Accomack Dem Committee has used the Indivisible guide to develop an action plan, has a bus load going to the women’s march, and has a local rally at 4 Corner Plaza for those unable to make the trek to DC but who want to show their support for those who are — all part of the plan to provide opportunities for folks to get and stay involved. The most exciting thing was to have a half-dozen 20 somethings at our last DEMCOM meeting, along with a number of new faces. Had more attendees than there were chairs in the Chamber of Commerce’s conference room. BTW, joining and meeting at the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce was something we started several years ago — engaging in the lion’s den. 🙂

  5. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    You could have written that guide, Frank. Congrats on getting those 20-somethings out. That’s our future.

    Anyone on that bus that I’d recognize? Turns out I may need a new Marching buddy.

    • Frank Moore
      | Reply

      I don’t have the roster, but since one of the pick-up stops for the bus is T’s corner, suspect a few Teaguers will be on board.

  6. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Good stuff, Janet. I admire your energy and optimism – truly. As to your question, I have no problem with any political content here, although I suspect that’s no surprise to you.

    Being a Democrat in Idaho is bizarre, infuriating, and a mostly helpless feeling. While Boise, itself, leans blue, the rest of the state, outside a few small pockets here and there, is decisively and depressingly red. Our state house is so out of balance the Dem’s have virtually no leverage, and only the slimmest opportunities to pass laws, where it would be embarrassing to the R’s to oppose them (which still, often doesn’t stop them). I happen to live in the most democratic legislative district in the state, and know both my state reps personally (who are both incredible women), but I frankly don’t know how they can stand doing what they do. On a national level, it’s even worse, with all of our meager four senator/reps marching in lockstep with the Tea Party, w/one minor exception (Mike Simpson) who occasionally still tries to do the right thing and pushes little carefully selected buttons now and again. All are basically opposed to any issue I stand for, and are so secure in their positions that they couldn’t give two whits about what I or anyone else thinks. The only meaningful chance to be involved in any sort of political victory exists at the city level, with our Democratic mayor and Dem-majority council. At least we have that. Anyway, as you can imagine, it’s easy to fall into a state of cynicism regarding the ability to effect change here, at least on the state or national level.

    Still, there were over 5,000 in the crowd on Saturday marching from the Idaho statehouse to the City Council, which is easily the largest demonstration I can recall in my 20 years in Idaho. So perhaps there is hope, after all 🙂

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Sounds like much good reason for hope, Tim. And, with the new focus by Eric Holder and others to litigate these gerrymandering laws (I hope in time for the next census and eventual redistricting), there may be more. Something I can see you being involved in there in Idaho. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — A Boisian neighbor, I resonate strongly with with Tim’s response. And I’m proud to say that while I’m currently on sabbatical in a different state, my husband was one of the 5,000 people in the crowd on Saturday.

    The Desmond Tutu quote is spot on! Thank you.

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