5 Ways to Feel Energized by the Election, Even When You Don’t

by Annie Leonard

October 21, 2016

Vote today, organize tomorrow.


Photo by Kelley Minars / Flickr. Creative Commons.

You wouldn’t be alone in feeling disillusioned by this year’s election. Every day I meet people who tell me they feel ready to opt out of the whole fiasco. But here’s the thing: sitting on the sidelines and name calling isn’t going to create anything better. I believe that what makes America great is working together, and looking out for one another.

As Michelle Obama said in her incredible speech last week, “People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together.”

For everyone that’s feeling election fatigue and frustration right now, here are five ways to turn that into awesome community-building action.

1. Register to vote.

Sure, this sounds obvious, but so many folks don’t realize until the last minute that they’re not actually registered. Registration deadlines are passing as we speak, so now’s a good time to get on that. If you live in Connecticut, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, and a handful of other places, it’s not too late! There’s a ton of resources out there to help make the process clear and simple, like this or this.

2. Now, make sure you actually vote.

Even more obvious, right? Hear me out.

It’s easy to get caught up in procrastination about who the perfect candidate is for every issue that matters to you. I agree that researching the people and policies that are competing to earn your vote is well worth doing. But don’t let it stand in the way of getting to the polling booth. You don’t have to love everything about your choice of candidate; you’re not picking a life partner or a roommate!

One approach is to opt for the people with the best stances on issues that matter most to you. For me, that often means picking candidates that will take strong action against climate change, and this year there’s a lot a stake. Climate Hawks and the League of Conservation Voters have some useful guides on climate-friendly candidates. Even if you’re undecided now, when you put an “x” in the box for your choice on election day, you might find it feels really empowering.

Either way, please just vote.

3. Sick of the Trump versus Hillary show? There’s much more than just a president to pick this November.

There’s also the Senate race, state legislative chambers and supreme courts, and countless local school boards, municipal governments and ballot initiatives to be decided on. This website is a great way to find out what’s on the ballot where you live.

4. There’s a surprising number of ways to get involved in the election, on top of exercising your right to vote.

If you’re curious about how the system works — or passionate about a particular candidate — it’s not too late to volunteer for a political campaign. Some counties may still be looking for volunteer election day poll workers, and there are lots of other great ideas in this blog and this one too.

Who knows, you may be inspired to run for office yourself one day!

5. If none of this is convincing you to use your vote, consider trying to find other ways to feel good about civic life.

By joining together, we can accomplish goals well beyond our reach as individuals. Volunteers are always needed for community gardens, after-school reading programs, beach clean-ups, arts and entertainment for the elderly, or whatever you have a passion for!

Websites like this one can help connect you with folks that would really value your energy and enthusiasm. If you’re thinking of creating your own advocacy campaign for an issue you care about, Greenpeace’s Greenwire platform can help you find others who are keen to collaborate.

So let’s get to work!

Vote Today, Organize Tomorrow

Vote today, organize tomorrow. Image by Favianna Rodriguez.

Annie Leonard

By Annie Leonard

Annie Leonard is the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. Leonard began her career at Greenpeace in 1988 and has returned to help the organization inspire and mobilize millions of people to take action to create a more sustainable future together. She is based in San Francisco.

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