Although the last few weeks have brought unprecedented change and a disruption to a sense of normalcy, there is still an opportunity to channel your energy into staying civically engaged and aware. If you are looking to stay politically aware during this extended time in quarantine, below are five tips.
1. Complete the census. The Constitution mandates that every 10 years, a census is taken to get an accurate count of the people living in the United States and the five U.S. territories. The Census helps determine funding for programs such as schools, hospitals, fire departments, road improvements, and how many seats that each state will be allotted for the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the Census Bureau. It’s a once in a decade chance to make a difference!
Completing the Census is easy! Your household was mailed an invitation with a special code on it to enter when you fill out the Census online. It will ask you basic demographic data questions such as how many people live in the household, and their age, sex, and race. This helps ensure that everyone is counted only once, and that accurate data can be collected in order to determine the right amount needed for government funding.
2. Register to vote or check your voter registration status. Although it is difficult to think about a time where things will return back to normal, the 2020 election is still on the mind. Now is a great time to make sure you are ready to exercise your voice by either registering to vote, or making sure your voter registration status is up to date. If you changed addresses recently, it is a great opportunity to make sure you have the right address on file, and that your information is as accurate as possible. You can register to vote here.
3. Stay informed! In the midst of a busy work and school schedule, it is easy to feel like there is no time to stay informed with the topics you want to dive deeper in. Now is the perfect time to take the time to understand a topic that you have wanted to follow, but didn’t have the time to explore in depth. Whether it is looking at your own local government structure and their recent decisions or what is happening on a national or global scale, you can use the power of education to make educated voting decisions.
4. See if there are any opportunities to phone bank. One of the best parts about phone banking is that you can do it from virtually anywhere, even from the convenience of your home. Reach out to a nonprofit or campaign that you support, and see if there are any opportunities to support virtually and promote the cause while at home. Not only is it a great way to get involved with a cause you believe in, but phone-banking helps build confidence with public speaking and presentation skills!
5. Have a conversation with a family member. As many people continue their quarantine in their home, it is an opportunity to stay connected with your family and roommates. Although there are restrictions on being physically closer, by holding a meaningful conversation with your family, you can grow closer in your understanding of complex political issues.
Although it is easy to want to speak and share your opinion, there is a lot of power that comes from taking the time to listen to the viewpoint of others, even when their views may not directly align with yours. Hearing where they are at and seeing things through their perspective can allow you to understand where people are coming from, and to understand issues with a nuanced perspective.
With all this said, do not forget the importance of resting. Americans have experienced a massive change in their everyday routines and activities. It is important to remember that productivity is not a prerequisite for a pandemic, and to still take the time you need to rest, heal, and care for your mental health during this season. Activism and political engagement can be draining, so don’t be afraid to take a step back and do what you need during the time we’re in.