In my previous post, I presented a non-exhaustive list of ten autocratic characteristics. I promised to offer suggestions on what you and I can do to stand up for democracy and resist efforts by those currently in power to transform our American constitutional republic into a regime that more resembles the world's authoritarian societies.
Here is a list (again, not all-inclusive) of effective things anyone wanting to uphold our norms and values in opposition to the rising authoritarian tide can do to save our free and open democratic institutions and the American way of life. I'll be taking each of these and dedicating future blog posts to discuss them in greater detail.
- Acknowledge the Danger. Don't ignore it. Don't diminish it. Recognize the signs of a creeping autocracy.
- Educate Yourself. Get informed and keep informed. Get your information from a variety of sources. Be discriminating. Seek out information from reputable sources with a strong track record for accuracy and devotion to journalistic integrity. Don't insulate yourself in an echo chamber. Avoid hyper-partisan sources and "click-bait" sites. Fight your own cognitive biases and learn to recognize the cognitive biases at work on others (we all have them). Build critical-thinking skills.
- Don't Be Gaslighted. Keep a journal (or regularly consult the fabulous one being kept by Amy Siskind) of things that are changing, things that used to be considered abnormal or downright crazy. Consult it when presented with efforts at gaslighting you.
- Speak Out. And speak up, loud and long, on the media platform of your choice. Blog. Tweet. Post. Comment. Cast. Snap. Pin. Tube. Don't let anyone shame you into silence. Be seen. Join with others. Meet. Rally. Protest. March. Carry a sign. Wave a flag. There is strength in numbers. Lobby. Show up at town halls. Call your elected representatives at the local, state, and federal levels. Visit their offices. Email them. Write them letters. Tweet at them. Be polite and respectful, but direct and emphatic. Let them hear your voice. Let them know you are watching what they say and, more importantly, what they do. It works.
- Donate. If you have the means, consider donating money to campaigns and organizations fighting to preserve and protect our democratic institutions. If you don't have the means, donate your time and talents.
- Vote. In every election, no matter what. Encourage others to vote. Help get others registered. Help others obtain the necessary documentation they will need to register and vote. Volunteer to make calls and knock on doors during campaign season.
- Laugh. Love. Live. Joke. Have fun. Fascists hate fun. They have no sense of humor. We live in serious times but have a decidedly unserious president. Comic relief is never more needed than in times like these. Autocrats conquer by dividing. They thrive on conflict, anger, hate. Don't let them rob you of your humanity; don't let them canker your soul. Optimism is needed most when hope seems lost.
Here's a little infographic I made to help remind us all of these things we can do to hep preserve our democratic institutions and civic norms in these perilous times.