Only We Can Help Us

Pt 1: Op-Ed

This is a scary time.

We are entering a period of unprecedented, unified government with historically weak checks and balances. And we’re not going to say his name here.


We’ve all heard enough railing and indignation. There’s a more important task at hand: figure out how to funnel our energies together to prevent unspeakable worst-case scenarios. We know in a few weeks when the impending nightmare has still not interrupted your life, you’re going to want to turn on the Kardashians and tune this all out. But you can’t–we can’t–do that.


There’s a lot of work to do. A lot comes after voting. We need to be vigilant. We need to know exactly what’s going on, always speak out, hold every politician accountable. So we made a tool to make this as easy as possible.

If you click the boxes “Send me emails/texts about this campaign.” we will send you this same form every two weeks. Your information will be saved once you fill it out this once. We will provide pre-written emails, tweets, and posts that speak out on issues of climate change, education reform, criminal justice, and political equality. You can read up and click send, edit ours, or write your own. You contact all of your government humans via email, Twitter, and Facebook in one fell swoop

Freedom ain’t free folks.
Democracy is participatory. It’s up to us to make sure that our fancy white buildings aren’t only run by fancy white men.
Photo: Paul Schutzer, LIFE Magazine.

Democratic damage control through democracy:


/ɡəvər(n)mənt / noun:

When a bunch of humans that live near each other decide some of those humans will be in charge of making everything work for everybody.

John Trumbull, Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” said a bunch of white men who only granted rights to themselves. They had one thing spot-on though: “mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” That’s exactly what we’re doing now: sitting in the pot as it boils because we’re used to hot water.


ˈ[nīəˌlizəm,ˈnēəˌlizəm] / noun:

A virus that has infected America. Symptoms include: abdication of sense of personal responsibility and refusal to tell the government humans how we want everything to work on the basis that everything sucks anyway.

Cornel West calls nihilism:

“…A form of sleepwalking from womb to tomb, with the majority of citizens content to focus on private careers and be distracted with stimulating amusements. They have given up…hope of shaping the collective destiny of the nation. Sour cynicism, political apathy, and cultural escapism become pervasive options.”

—Cornel West, Democracy Matters
Maybe a lot does suck but also humans actually made it to the moon. And even if it was a state-led Cold War stunt, uncountable uncontrollable factors had to align perfectly to allow that to happen— and that was only after unimaginable amounts of work by an incredible number of brilliant people. So though it may be a less frequent occurrence, occasionally, things go spectacularly well.
Photo: Neil A. Armstrong, NASA archive.

Nihilism is spreading because people are disillusioned and pissed off. 72% percent of people who voted believe “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.”[footnote:@pissed1] And they’re not really wrong. The government is mostly only working for the very rich and powerful humans.



/ˈläbē / verb:

1. When some powerful humans pay other humans to tell government humans what they want, over and over again, and even help government humans write legislation that benefits the humans paying them.

In 2015 alone, $3.2 billion was spent swaying political outcomes.[footnote:@pissed2] For every $1 spent on lobbying by labor unions and public-interest groups together, large corporations spend $34.[footnote:@pissed3] This is bad news


As the father of capitalism himself put it,

“The interest of [businessmen] is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public ... The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ... ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined ... with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men ... who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public”

— Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations


hmm… businessmen…

Is this the end of the world?

Yeah, it kinda is. It’s the end of the world where we all kind of sit around telling ourselves things won’t get that bad. Nihilism, apathy, and inaction in the face of dysfunctional institutions are self-fulfilling prophesies. Yes, things are probably getting worse, but not certainly. And they’re certainly less likely to get worse if we act. If we all fail to tell the government humans how we DO want things to work just because everything seems shitty, we preclude any possibility that things get better. [footnote: @end1]

In failing to act out of hopelessness, we fail to honor the massively significant, incredibly hard-won victories of the past that took many generations of fighting. Slavery was abolished. Women, blacks, and First Nations won the right to vote. Marriage equality was won. Change is slow. Our efforts may not be rewarded in an immediately visible or gratifying way. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. [footnote: @end2]

The Freedom Riders were a mixed-race group that rode interstate buses into the south to challenge the segregation ordinances southern states had maintained after the Supreme Court had ruled for the desegregation of public transit. White mobs brutally attacked the Freedom Riders. Police arrested them. Drivers refused to drive. President Kennedy asked The Freedom Riders to stop, claiming they were making the nation look bad during the Cold War. But the Riders kept going. Eventually, their efforts, combined with those of many other movements across, the country created enough pressure that Attorney General Robert Kennedy petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to enforce desegregation rulings.
Photo: State Library and Archives of Florida

Contacting government humans actually works, forreal:

It’s a dirty little democratic secret. Corporations may spend billions to buy government humans’ ears, but legislators pay attention when we talk to them. According to one study, moderate amounts of constituent contact increases a legislator’s probability of supporting the relevant legislation by 12%.[footnote: @dirty1] In another, grassroots email lobbying campaigns make government humans up to 20% more likely to vote for the citizen lobbyists’ desired outcome.[footnote:@dirty2]


/ˈläbē / verb:

Alt. definition: 2. Telling the government humans how you want things to work and that you are paying attention and intend to vote.

“Democracy works, America, but we gotta want it, not just during an election year, but all the days in between.”

—President Obama, Democratic National Convention Speech, 2016
Obama’s leaving and whether you’re thrilled, disappointed, or enraged by what he did, this is a moment to reconsider what citizenship will mean to you in the Trump era. That’s cool that you voted. Or not. But now what? What about tomorrow and the next day?
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Democracy can still work

if we work it.


We have a plan.


There are 80 million 18-35 year olds and we almost all voted together. If we can work together too, there’s real power in that number.

Here’s the plan: use this crazy space-age technology we have in our pockets to stay super up to date on what’s going on, constantly tell government humans that we know what’s going on, and also tell them how we want things to work. Then we all vote so we can fire them if they don’t do what we demand. You know, Democracy.

This tool makes it literally as easy as possible. One more time, here’s how: If you click the boxes “Send me emails/texts about this campaign.” we will send you this same form every two weeks. Your information will be saved once you fill it out this once. We will provide pre-written emails, tweets, and posts that speak out on issues of climate change, education reform, criminal justice, and political equality. You can read up and click send, edit ours, or write your own, then contact all of your government humans via email, Twitter, and Facebook in one. fell. click.


We made this fun, now please help us make it cool by sharing with your friend humans.

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Produced by Our Future Agency

AARP supports AYA for three important reasons. First, AARP has a long legacy – dating back almost 60 years – of working to make life better for ALL as we age. Not just older Americans but all Americans. Our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, a trailblazer in her own right, said “what we do for one, we do for all.” Second, AARP members tell us that they are deeply concerned about their legacy. Our members care about the kind of world they leave their children and grandchildren. Our members vote and are champions on the issues that impact people over 50 and their families. They believe it is important to encourage and empower the next generation to pick up that torch. And third, as AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins recently wrote in her nationally best-selling book Disrupt Aging, we must all challenge outdated beliefs and sparks new solutions so more people can choose how they want to live and age – at any age. We strongly believe that age discrimination is wrong at any age. Younger Americans should not let age, false assumptions, and broken systems stand between them and their real possibilities.

—Kevin J. Donnellan, Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff