Election Year Resolutions

I’m a resolution-maker.

My husband, quite emphatically, is not. He claims that, if there’s something he wants to change about himself, he just does, and he doesn’t need to wait for a new year to do it.

The crazy-making thing is, he really does.

For me, though, there’s something powerful about the symbolism of committing oneself to a new goal, and of starting fresh towards a new end. And I love, love, love crossing things off lists. I’m eternally grateful for a husband who lets me even cross things off his list, since he just doesn’t get the same satisfaction out of it that I do.

I have some rules about my resolutions, primarily that they have to be things entirely within my own control (so I can’t make resolutions about things that I want done around the house, since it’s seldom I who do them, or about the state of the world, since, regrettably, I’m not in charge there, either), and they have to be concrete (so no, “exercise more” or other vague statements; those are too easy for me to forget about, or to fudge).

This year, I’m setting a special set of resolutions for a special “year”, the countdown to the very important 2012 elections. It’s just about one year until our nation will not only elect a President but also send a strong statement about the direction of the country, and, here in Kansas, of our state Senate, in particular. And there are some things that I simply must do, if I’m going to be able to look myself in the mirror, in November 2012, and feel that I’ve done my best this year. So these are my Election Year Resolutions.

As always, I’m most interested to hear yours. What are you planning to do to make your mark on the electoral process, and how do those goals fit into your overall advocacy vision between now and next November? Or, if you’re not a resolution person, what are you doing today to shape the course of the next election?

  • Donate at least $100 towards citizenship application fees for a new applicant: It costs more than $600 to become a U.S. citizen, even if you don’t have to pay an attorney. In today’s economy, and given the labor market facing many immigrants, that’s a pretty steep entrance fee to our democratic process. I know many people who really want to become citizens, and whose voices are desperately needed, for whom the fees are a real barrier. We need to provide some financial assistance in order to broaden the scope of political participation; it just might mean public policies that reduce the demand for ameliorative services on the back end, too.
  • Organize another citizenship workday: One of the most fun and rewarding activities in doing immigrant rights work is helping people become citizens, and, when you can work with dedicated immigration attorneys who donate their time, it’s a true joy. We processed 85 new citizens at a workday last July, and those folks should be eligible to vote in 2012. Individuals applying for citizenship now may not complete the process in time, but it’s about building momentum for the future, and about redeeming the vision of an American Dream.
  • Register at least 50 new voters: So registering voters can be a drag. I know that all too well. I’ve been cursed at while conducting nonpartisan voter registration drives in 100+ degree heat, and that’s no one’s idea of a great time. But I’ve also received phone calls of gratitude from new voters who relished their first ballot, and those make it worth it. I’ll volunteer my time to work on voter drives, either in conjunction with nonprofit organizations, organized voter efforts, or through my own connections to grassroots groups.
  • Door-knock at least 5 days for candidates I support: Going door-to-door is abundantly more fun now that I can take a kid with me; people just don’t yell at people with kids as much. We’ll probably do some primary work in June (hopefully before it gets too hot) and again during the general election. My sons like to race each other to see who can get up to the door first for literature drops, too which saves me a few steps!
  • Make at least 5 campaign contributions, most likely at the state level: We have four kids, so money doesn’t exactly flow abundantly around here, but money is a critically important part of the political process, and there is a real satisfaction in supporting candidates whose vision I believe in. I started to receive solicitations a few months ago, so the hardest part will be winnowing those requests down and being strategic about my contributions, but they’re in the budget, so we can make them happen.
  • Provide at least 25 hours of pro bono consulting assistance to nonprofit organizations looking to integrate GOTV strategies into their work: I don’t have a lot of time, either, but I know a fair amount about how nonprofit social service agencies can be effective in their voter engagement work, and I know that I can make a contribution in that arena. I’ve started to talk with some organizations that are interested, and we’re working up some strategies that will, we hope, have both a 2012 impact and lay a foundation for years to come.

    So, again, what are YOUR election year resolutions? What will you do to influence the world we’ll wake up to on Wednesday, November 7, 2012?

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