The other day Matt Yglesias fielded one of those emails that we see all the time asking, what the hell is one person supposed to do? Matt said what I would say, more or less – we live in a participatory democracy, so participate. Phone your congressperson. Write a letter to your newspaper. Show up to town halls and get involved in local government. You know those call-in shows that every wingnut has their truck radio tuned to all day? Call in. Look up Mike Stark to find excellent advice about their schtick and how to use it against them. If you have friends who care, organize them to and make it a group thing. Let people know what you think about things (within reason; I hate bringing up politics at work). The right wing organizing strategy literally hinges on these points. Overwhelming participation at the local level is the only way that they pull off policies that that over and over again poll worse than malaria. It empowers Republican officeholders to act and it gives Democrats second thoughts.
Even his advice to unplug more makes some sense, as long as you use your net connection mostly to get mad at something and then vent your rage in some blog comment section. Signal to noise is a problem online, but it does not change the simple fact that the internet is an excellent organizing tool. Where one person phoning a Congressional office might as well save your breath (more or less), a medium sized blog like this can mobilize hundreds of calls, letters and even a few visits per day if we push hard enough. That kind of volume starts to have a tangible tidal force on the Hill.
President Obama has the good sense to realize this. From what I hear people have followed his lead and phoned in huge numbers. The best thing that you can do right now is ramp up the volume and help turn the tidal pull that most offices are feeling into a rip current that they have to think hard about fighting.
Have a Republican representative? Pick up the phone and ask them to stop acting like children and more like grownup problem solvers. The economy is not some piece on a board game. If you have Democratic representatives then you might ask them to grow a goddamn spine and get behind the one proposal that even tries save their ass and the economy in 2012.
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