How to take action when you feel disillusioned with today's political climate

"We can’t afford your disillusionment, no matter what side of the political aisle you are on," says Karine Jean-Pierre, MSNBC political analyst and chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.
Karine Jean-Pierre, an MSNBC political analyst and chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.
Karine Jean-Pierre, an MSNBC political analyst and chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.Travis W Keyes Photography

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By Karine Jean-Pierre

With an election around the corner, the Senate considering removing the president from office, and U.S.-Iran tensions at a near, all-time high, politics can feel particularly scary and heavy. It’s hard not to feel disillusioned.

Believe me, I know: I work in politics day in and day out, and I’m often the person on your television screen responsible for knowing everything that’s happened over the last 24 hours so you don’t have to. It’s a lot.

But I also know this: Now is not the time to give up. It’s not the time to be silent. And it’s certainly not the time to quit.

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Why? Because we can’t afford your disillusionment, no matter what side of the political aisle you are on.

People often ask me how I stay hopeful — and how they can stay hopeful, too. Here’s my answer: Do something. Do anything! Truly, anything. Sign up to make calls for a local candidate, or your favorite presidential candidate. Commit to canvassing one day a month. Text five friends asking if they’re registered to vote and helping them figure out how if they’re not.

Here’s my theory: It takes a LOT of willpower to do that first thing, whatever it is. You feel hopeless, unsure that anything you do will make a difference. But as soon as you do that one thing? You’ll see it. You’ll see the difference you make. Once you help one person register to vote or convince one friend to canvass with you, you’ll never again question whether or not you can make a difference. Because you already have.

So here’s what I need you to do: one thing. If it’s not making calls, canvassing, or registering people to vote, maybe it’s volunteering with your local party or signing up to be a poll worker. It can be anything! But it needs to be something. Facebook likes and retweets on Twitter just aren’t enough right now. We need to get out there and knock on doors and turn out the vote.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve traveled across the country as part of a book tour for my recent memoir, “Moving Forward.” For 10 days, I was in a different city every day. Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago, you name it, and I was there. I expected to hear a lot of disillusionment from the folks who came out, but instead what I heard and felt was hunger. A hunger of wanting to make a difference and wanting to get involved.

People across the country want to do something--anything--to make sure progress and hope and love and inclusion win in 2020. The good news? Over the last three years, that movement has already begun.

Here’s my message to people who feel disillusioned: Now is not the time. We don’t have time for your disillusionment or mine, or anyone else’s. We need action. Whatever that action is that you can do, I’m asking you, from deep, deep inside my soul, please do it. This country needs you.

In 2020, we need a movement to put this country back on the right track. That movement may sound big and something that you can’t control — but you can. Because every large movement starts with small movement, the choice of an individual to take action. We can’t afford for you to sit this one out.