Why Civic Engagement Is Critical


The US has an increasingly disjointed, traumatized populace that is more likely to disengage with their own connections and communities than to engage.  Overwhelm and trauma are powerful de-mobilizers.

Civic engagement will be increasingly critical as collective, widespread pandemic shock and overwhelm push many into a natural trauma response to freeze and disengage.  The trauma response will be a challenge to overcome as the disaster intensifies, as fear increases, as resources are spread thinner, and as other natural trauma responses toward fight or flight occur.  There will be widespread cascading effects from interruptions to interdependent systems; and as previously stable systems destabilize or devolve – anything from schools to local governments to supply chains to infrastructure.  The Trump Administration will likely continue to worsen the trauma through its deliberately obstructive response; exacerbating the disaster in ways that will harm or kill more and more people.  The increasingly authoritarian tendencies of the Trump Administration and its push toward a nationalistic oligarchy all serve to divide Americans and to scare people into further disengagement.  All of this will further exacerbate both the widespread trauma and the inclination to disengage.  Disempowerment spreads as the series of shocks persists.

Civic engagement can be a powerful way to help with these crises.  Human stress biomarkers are lower when we as humans feel like we’re working together, versus feeling that we’re on our own.

Visible, inspired, collective civic engagement activity can empower Americans to help pull each other forward through crisis, to vote, to hold democracy together, and to make transformation.

Civic engagement tools can help us get through these crises with connection, community, inclusiveness, resilience, and problem-solving – all things that can help us navigate the coronavirus crisis.  The Shift the Country 4-part strategy can help organizations build on existing approaches to mobilizing volunteers for voter engagement – and expand those activities to include our 15 tools to help people engage with everything.

This 4-part strategy can help get disenchanted, inactive voters engaged; to pull in voters who may be overwhelmed; to solve urgent problems together; to tell voters’ stories; to advocate for the needs of the city, county, or state to candidates/incumbents running for office; or to bring attention to how government is serving or failing voters and how it could shift.  The Shift the Country approach can help bring hope, inspiration, vision, teamwork, strength, and solidarity.

You can help support this shift, talk to people about what we're doing, share it, & sign up to join in on this shiftContributions help us get tools, stories, actions, engagement, messages, and ruckus out and amplified.  To get things to go viral.  To create a phenomenon.  To help more people everyone engage with everything.  To help more people raise an absolute ruckus.  To make shift happen.

This page is an excerpt from the printable Shift the Country framework.
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