Election Activism with RI’s Margie Klein
We're really coming down the home stretch of the 2008 election campaign ... I can't believe that election day is less than one week away! As many of us gear up to get to the polls (or send in our absentee ballots), Margie Klein -- activist, community organizer, and co-leader of the Righteous Indignation project -- is mobilizing young Jews across the U.S. to ensure that voter turnout is a record high.
Back in the spring, I blogged about the Righteous Indignation anthology -- which features over 35 essays on a wide range of social and environmental justice issues by Jewish activists, intellectuals, and communal leaders -- and I recently checked in with Margie about how the project is moving forward. Here's what she had to share:
Jordan: With so many different ways to get involved in election-related efforts, what makes the Righteous Indignation project (RI) unique?
Margie: We do non-partisan voter engagement work in low income communities, along with many other important groups. What makes us unique is our ability to bring together Jewish social justice groups for a coordinated effort, and our interfaith organizing and media work to voice social justice as a moral priority. In contrast to 2004, when the Religious Right claimed that the only legitimate moral issues were fighting abortion and gay marriage, Righteous Indignation is insisting that social justice and environmental protection be religious priorities and return to the forefront of our nation's moral agenda. Through media events like our "Fighting Poverty with Faith Week of Action," and through our canvassing in low-income neighborhoods, we send a loud message to the candidates and to voters that we are all responsible for building a more caring and more just America.
Jordan: It seems like one of the key challenges that community organizers face is juggling multiple priorities. How have you been dealing with this as an activist and leader in RI initiatives?
Margie: I find that juggling priorities always comes down to having clear goals, timelines, and accountability. We set up good systems at the beginning of the project, so now much of my work is about supporting our talented organizers by providing program and media materials, holding them accountable through check-in calls, and organizing national conference calls for our staff to share ideas. I also make myself to do lists constantly, and gain a great deal of satisfaction from checking things off!
Jordan: With the election less than one week away, what's the best way for people to get involved?
Margie: Join a voter mobilization effort, and canvass either with one of the campaigns or with a non-partisan effort to turn out low income voters. If you can't canvass, join a phone bank or make calls from your home!
The Righteous Indignation Project will be joining low income canvassing efforts in eight cities, so if you are near any of those, we encourage you to join. They are:
- Denver, CO
- Los Angeles, CA (with a group from the Bay Area)
- Manchester, NH (with a group from Boston)
- Milwaukee, WI (with a group from Chicago)
- Northern Virginia (traveling from DC)
- Philadelphia, PA (with a group from NYC)
- San Francisco, CA
- Seattle, WA
Jordan: What's the plan for RI following the election?
Margie: The weekend after the election, most of our groups will be participating in the Zeek Magazine "Unconferences," which will be open space conversations about what to do next. At those gatherings, our volunteers will discuss how to keep up the momentum in order to make sure the values to which we committed this election turn into real policies.