Rocky River Public Library has joined forces with The City Club of Cleveland to invite you to participate in Five Days for Democracy— a week dedicated to exploring what democracy means to you. This year we’re taking a look at how all politics is local: what does local government look like, who represents us, and how can we impact city hall.
Sign up and receive a daily email packed with opportunities to examine different facets of our democracy—from listening to a podcast to watching a video, reading an article or responding to a call to action. Each day pick one challenge and get engaged!
I have had this meme sent to me at least five times. Because my friends know me. They have seen me ask this question of complete strangers, seemingly out of the blue. I am passionate about voting-it’s the only way we have to make our system of government work for us.
It is easy to become disillusioned with politics. It’s understandable that people think their vote doesn’t matter. While we have seen increases in the number of eligible voters turning out for big elections, cities and states still often see low engagement for primary elections and local elections. Local elections have the greatest impact on our daily lives and in our communities. Just in case you don’t believe your one vote is all that important, consider these elections:
Voting is a right that many people had to fight for. It is a right that should not be given up so easily. Voting is powerful and participation from all eligible voters is the best way to keep our democracy healthy. If you haven’t already, check your registration status at your local board of elections site and make a plan to be a voter. Your local library can help you find reliable information about the candidates and issues that are on your ballot.
So you say you want to take a break but you still want to keep up with those timely topics of: Democracy and Spooookkkyyy Season? Guess what! You can tune out from some of the daily excitement, on both topics, with a …book! Read a little -have a little conversation, feel done with the conversation (I mean really, obviously chocolate is a better treat than a lollipop,right?!) and excuse yourself back to that page turner you’ve got going on!!
If you want to read something to keep up with your friends talking about Democracy, social issues, and past or current politics, check out the Five Days for Democracy collection. Feeling extra inspired? You can check out some of the resources on the 5DaysforDemocracy website, take a challenge or watch a video!
Or maybe you want to look over your shoulder a lot, think way too much about that strange noise, or stress eat some crunchy foods? Well then you might want to read a Spooky Book for Adults! (And keep checking back as new books are being added all the time!)
Me? Maybe I’ll give out chocolate *and* lollipops this year!
Whatever you pick, I hope it’s all treats and no tricks! -Stacey
I’m sure you’ve seen this question recently, maybe many times recently, and I had been brushing it off. I vote. I was feeling all confident about knowing what I need to do, with my absentee ballot requested waaaay back in Summer. (Perhaps a little smug about my readiness to make sure my voice is heard?) And today I got a little reality check. I’m confident in my in-person voting, but there’s more to learn about absentee ballots….
Did you know postage due on your ballot might be greater than the value of one USPS forever stamp ? Due to size and weight, Cuyahoga County’s ballot may cost .65 and first class postage is .55. How do you know the cost for sure? You can stop in your local United States Post Office to get it weighed and postmarked, or call your county’s Board of Elections to confirm the cost. The Secretary of State’s site also includes information that you should not use a postage meter or online service to “affix postage” but can “use a postage label purchased at a USPS customer service window or vending machine” and “the date on the label is the postmark.” You should read the whole list for a better understanding, but key ideas have been highlighted in case someone is compelled to skim… (again, please read it all as it’s pretty short and very important!)
You can also drop your absentee ballot off at your local board of elections once early voting starts on Tuesday, October 6. (If you live in Cuyahoga County, October 6th is also the day when absentee ballots will be mailed out.)
If you’re a regular voter by mail and you have more tips for us newbies, please share your knowledge!
Alright so TL:DR: please be sure you’re prepared to vote on November 3, 2020!
Why Democracy? –Citizenship– Protest–Advocacy– and Why Vote?
These are the topics we discussed this week, and what an incredible time to be talking about them! It’s no secret that the United States is living in tumultuous political times, full of discord, strong opinions, and heartfelt concern for how to protect our democracy and the principles on which our nation was founded.
I think many of us who were born and raised in the U.S. take democracy for granted. We can’t imagine any other way and believe that of course, we should have a say in the laws that govern and define us! As difficult as these political times have been, one good thing that has come from it is more and more people taking an interest in “politics” and the people we are electing to represent us. For years, much of the population has been complacent about voting, about government policies- believing “neither party is any good”, “no matter what I do, politicians are crooks.”
But difficult and volatile political times have caused many people to rise to the challenge of living in a democratic community. Feeling the risk to “life as we know it” has caused us to realize that important issues such as healthcare, welfare, social security, homelessness, poverty are not political issues- they are human issues that affect us all. Political awareness, activism, and plans to vote are on the rise among young people. According to a Tufts CIRCLE (Center for Information & Research on Civil Learning and Engagement) survey,
“Young people see 2020 as a time to exercise their potential power. Overall, 83% of those surveyed believe young people have the power to change the country, 60% say they feel they are part of a movement that will vote to express its views, and 79% of young people say the COVID-19 pandemic has helped them realize that politics impact their everyday lives.”
I believe one good thing happening this election year is that everyone, young and old, are beginning to believe it’s never too late to advocate for what you believe in, to truly work towards the good of all people–for these are the things that make a great nation and a great democracy. Thank you to the City Club of Cleveland for giving us a chance to celebrate 5Days4Democracy.
Welcome to day 4 of City Club Cleveland’s 5 Days For Democracy! I hope you’ve been enjoying the great content shared and have hopefully learned something new along the way. Today, as we welcome October, we celebrate advocacy!
What is advocacy? Advocacy is most simply defined as any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others. Read more about what advocacy means and the different types of advocacy (community advocacy vs. legal advocacy) in this article from the Philanthropy Journal. You may wonder- how is advocacy different from lobbying? Well, lobbying is a type of advocacy in which you advocate for a or against a specific legislation, but not all advocacy means lobbying!
What activities comprise advocacy work? There are *so many* ways that Americans of all ages can get involved in work to support their beliefs and views. Here are a few examples of advocacy work:
Organize: Organize a meeting or rally with others who share your views to mobilize for change! This could be coffee with your neighbors over Zoom, it doesn’t need to be a big meeting to make big change.
Educate Legislators: Provide information to legislators on issues you care about. Many non-profits help you to advocate by providing fact sheets or scripts to use when reaching out to legislators. Not sure who represents you? Find out using Ballotpedia.org here.
Research: We librarians know the importance of research! Find relevant resources that exhibit your story. Check out this list of institutes and think tanks put together by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy. Find legislation that affects you and track it’s progress in Congress here at GovTrack.us .
Nonpartisan Voter Education: Inform your community on the issues you care about and how to vote for change! Nonpartisan groups like the League of Women Voters can help you to become an advocate and get involved.
Lobby: As a member of the general public, you can advocate for or against specific legislation through grassroots lobbying efforts! It is citizen participation in government and a great way to make your voice heard.
Feeling like you are already working hard as an advocate? The Ohio ACLU shared this list of useful tips on how to become a better advocate, including the importance of challenging our own biases when we look to become an advocate for others. The ACLU is another great resource for those looking to get involved, and you can check out the Ohio ACLU’s advocacy page here .
It might seem more challenging to be an advocate now amidst the pandemic, but according to the Institute for Free Speech, “Even when we’re stuck at home, the groups we join to support shared causes continue to give us a voice in Washington and our state capitals.” thanks in a large part to online advocacy! Use social media to organize virtual letter writing campaigns with friends or use Twitter to engage with public officials. You don’t need to leave your house to be an awesome advocate.
Protests are as American as apple pie. Since that December day in 1773 when colonists dumped 92,000 pounds of tea into Boston Harbor to protest the Tea Act of 1773, Americans have used protests to make their voices heard and to advocate for change.
Throughout our history peaceful protests, which are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution, have resulted in significant changes to our laws, our culture, and even our Constitution. Here a few of our most well known protests:
This march, on the eve of President elect Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, was the first of many large demonstration in favor of giving women the right to vote. It would take another seven years to get the 19th Amendment ratified, which finally gave women the vote, though in practice it was primarily white women who got to vote. It would take another twenty years for Asian-American immigrants to gain suffrage and 45 years for Black American and Native American voter rights to be guaranteed with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While suffrage for all women is now part of the Constitution, women are still waiting for protections under the Equal Rights Amendment of 1923 to be ratified.
We are all familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but did you know that idea for the famous march came from civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph in 1941? Randolph organized a march to protest FDR’s New Deal programs and the exclusion of Black people from post WWII jobs. The march never happened because Roosevelt issued an order to prohibit discrimination in hiring for government and defense jobs. In 1963 Randolph, backed by the NAACP and King, with the support of Southern Christian Leadership Conference joined forces for one large march for jobs and freedom. Their joined forces led to the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Further protests let to the Voting Rights Act a year later in 1965.
From 1952-1987 homosexuality was listed as a mental illness in the DSM. In the 50’s and 60’s it was not unusual for the police to raid gay bars and harass patrons. When police raided the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, people had had enough and fought back. Protests lasted for six days and resulted in a more cohesive gay and lesbian community and lead to the development of new gay rights organizations. The one year anniversary was recognized with the first Pride parade. Since the 1990s the Supreme Court has ruled on a number of landmark cases that decriminalized homosexuality, legalizing gay marriage, and recently, making it illegal to fire an employee based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Americans have taken to the streets to protest against wars, nuclear weapons, and tax policies. They have taken to the streets in solidarity. They have marched in favor of science and rights for marginalized communities. They have marched for women and the environment and gun control laws.
Today there are active protests occurring throughout the United States. Citizens have taken to the streets to protest police brutality against Black people. Americans are preparing rallies and marches against evictions and the inclusion of 1619 Project in school curriculums. Citizens are marching for Breonna Taylor, in remembrance of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and in support of the police.
Democracy depends on the participation of citizens. Protests are just one means of participating and advocating for change.
For me, the answer to “why democracy?” is an easy one. America’s democratic system of government grants me many freedoms that other countries’ citizens are not automatically given.
Two of my favorites are my freedom of speech and the right to vote for my choice in our elections. And while I admit that it’s hard for me sometimes when I see neighbors’ yard signs in support of a candidate running against the one I support, I’m sure glad I’m able to put up my own yard sign. When I feel myself getting aggravated by such a display, it’s important for me to take a step back and realize that this disagreement is actually our country’s Constitution at work. I take a deep breath and know that it’s not just okay that my neighbor might not agree with me, it is their right, too!
During these five days for democracy, think about how opposing yard signs make you feel. And then take your own deep breath and be grateful that you too live in a country where you can express such a thing.
So, help celebrate these 5 Days for Democracy and sign up here to receive emails this week that will help you better understand, celebrate and think of ways to improve what democracy does for you. Oh, and don’t even think about stealing any yard signs!
Tomorrow is the first official day of the Five Days for Democracy event and you can sign up now, or any time this week, to receive Monday’s email! This might be the easiest program *ever* to join but will hopefully get you thinking and taking action, which can be hard work. It’s good for us flex those decision making muscles, it’s even better to feel like you made a positive difference for yourself and others. During these five days of emails, full of things to read or watch, small actions we can take every day or once in a while, and encourage discussion, all adding a little zing to your inbox! And who doesn’t need a little zing?!
Five days. Five challenges. Five ways to strengthen your role in our democracy.
One of the things I most appreciate about being a citizen of the United States of America? I can make a difference each time I vote! And in-between elections, I can contact elected representatives, from local to Federal, when an issue is important to me!
From Monday, September 28 to Friday, October 2, Rocky River Public Library, our fellow public library systems in Cuyahoga County, and City Club of Cleveland are asking you to participate in Five Days for Democracy—a week dedicated to spending just a little bit of time each day thinking about what democracy means to you, why it’s important, and why it’s worth fighting for.
When you sign up, you’ll receive an email each day packed with opportunities to explore different facets of our democracy, in all its aspirations and failings. From listening to a podcast to watching a video, reading an article or responding to a call to action, each day you’ll pick one challenge to complete. And maybe you’d like to start reading a little something right now, like a little prep work for the week? Check out on of the many titles suggested in the 5 Days for Democracy collection!
Five days. Five challenges. Five ways to strengthen your role in our democracy.