Actions at Election Time
"First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win." As this classic saying sums up, activism often seems like it's not making a difference until about five minutes before victory is in reach.
For those who believe in a consistent ethic of life, election season can be particularly frustrating—in most elections, not a single consistent-life candidate is to be found.
Nevertheless, election season offers a key time to make the idea of a consistent ethic of life better known in the public sphere. While most candidates in a particular election will probably not embrace it, having to answer a question about the ethic gets it out there in the public imagination, where it can be heard by more people and where its innate moral consistency can start to work into the public consciousness.
Remember, you are not endorsing a candidate—you are politely challenging them, and other listeners, to make progress toward consistency in opposing violence. Commend them for where they already oppose violence, and challenge them to consistently oppose other kinds of violence on the same principles.
For general actions that can be done just as well at election time as any other time, see our Action Ideas for Individuals page.
Bumper Stickers and Small Posters
The bumper sticker is available by contacting us. An earlier design of the bumper sticker is available from our CaféPress store. Or if you have bumper-sticker paper, we have a white-background version and you can print up your own – the pdf can print up two per letter-size page, to be cut in two.
With a similar design, you can print up this colorful poster on regular letter-sized paper to post on bulletin boards, dorm room or office doors, or anywhere else suitable.
To Pass Out
We offer three different approaches, so select what’s most suitable to the audience.
The first is a one-sided flyer with a design similar to the bumper sticker, with content explaining what our ideal candidate would look like. We offer the pdf to print up on the spot (you have that rally happening this afternoon!), but we also have cards with the design on one side and the ideal candidate on the other; these are easier to pass out and usually get more attention. Cards can be ordered by contacting us.
Two two-sided brochures to print up and then fold into thirds (so the front of is on the right side of the first page). These are good for such things as meetings where people would appreciate more content.
One brochure is designed especially for peace and justice activists, explaining how abortion providers have likened abortion to war. You can print it up and fold it into thirds with the peace sign and baby on the front.
Another brochure is designed especially for pro-life activists, explaining how war leads directly to killing unborn through weapons and through pressured abortion. This one puts the baby on top and the peace sign on bottom, so if you have both, you can quickly tell which one to use.
Letters to the Editor and Comments on Blogs
Letters and online comments are among the easiest and cheapest methods we have for educating the public. Short messages with just one point are more likely to be published and more likely to be read. A more detailed how-to guide called “Writing Wrongs,” aimed at the death penalty but useful for all issues, is available online.
You can use the occasion of an election—particularly statements and appearances by a candidate—to get the word out. Keep your letter short (about 200 words), give your connection to the community, thank the candidate for her or his positions that support life, and ask a pertinent question about where the candidate does not, trying to work the phrase “consistent life ethic” or “consistent ethic of life” into your letter. Pay attention to comments recently made by the candidates, because that’s a news hook that makes publication of the letter more likely, it makes the candidate more likely to pay attention since it’s feedback, and it contributes to an on-going local dialog.
Ask Candidates Questions
Find out when candidates are having town meetings or other appearances where they will take questions from the audience, and keep showing up at them (a practice sometimes called “bird-dogging”). Be prepared to ask your two-sentence question, tailored to that candidate’s positions and comments.
Remember that it will probably take persistence to get to ask your question—you may not get called on at the first appearance or the second. Wearing a shirt that prominently displays a consistent life ethic slogan and sitting in the front row where TV cameras can see you is also a good approach at town meetings. Such shirts can be purchased from our CaféPress store.
In addition to public appearances, tweet directly @ candidates on their twitter pages or add posts/comments to their Facebook pages. With Facebook posts, make sure the key point of your post fits in the first three lines. Also, save screen shots of your posts, in case they are removed later.
While our yard sign from CaféPress is generic, not specific to elections (and rather wordy for a yard sign), election season is when yard signs are most expected. Having a consistent-life one may be a pleasant addition to the political landscape.
Don’t just do all this by yourself: get friends to do it too!