When I was in high school in the early 2000s, Arianna Huffington spoke at an assembly at my small high school in Oakland. The political climate, like today, was deeply polarized and Democrats were on the march, protesting the war in Iraq in San Francisco and DC, New York and Boston.
Huffington forcefully argued that Democrats should let Republicans be the party of 9/11. Let them be the national security party, the forceful military party, the curtailing civil liberties party. Progressives should own September 12th. September 11th was a national tragedy; September 12th was a day when from coast-to-coast people felt a near unparalleled sense of togetherness, community and patriotism.
Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States on November 8th. His election forced me to reconsider the Obama-curated vision of a progressive, diverse, and inclusive America.
One of the few silver linings of Trump’s electoral victory was what happened on November 9th. The day after Trump’s victory, instead of selfies, memes and listicles filling my feeds, there were impassioned posts from friends eager to participate in the political process, to join together to fight coming injustice. An oft-criticized apathetic, apolitical or selfish generation woke up. Earnestness replaced irony.
Many friends took the long view, citing MLK Jr.: “The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.” This arc does not bend naturally; rather, it is bent by those who discuss and debate ideas, who vote and volunteer for the causes they care about, who show up to marches and protests and demonstrations and rallies.
In response to this outpouring of political interest, a small group of my friends got together and created the November 9th Project. It’s an admittedly lofty title for a simple idea: a monthly recurring donation tool where people commit to donate $10/month (or more) to a rotating lineup of organizations advocating for progressive causes during the coming administration. The goal is to capture and sustain political passion, even — especially — if the current climate starts feeling normal. It’s like Birchbox or Netflix, but for preventing really bad sh*t from happening.
Our first month we collectively donated $3,300 to the ACLU, money well spent given the refugee ban. In February we collectively gave more than $4,000 to the Southern Poverty Law Center in preparation for likely voter restriction laws. This month we’re giving to ProPublica to support hard-hitting investigative journalism. In subsequent months we’ll donate to organizations suggested and voted on by our members. Every month members will receive information about the organization, an opportunity to opt-out of donating, and a non-financial way to support the cause. These donations and actions will strengthen the small-d democratic institutions essential to a functioning and fair society.
Reading the news right now is exhausting. Each day brings a new unjust act, a new series of insulting, childish tweets, a new hateful proclamation, a new “WTF!? He can’t possibly” “Breaking News!” notification. While it’s unrealistic for everyone to quit their jobs and become permanent political advocates, simply reading and tweeting is not enough. Our indignation, frustration and willingness to fight may not be inexhaustible, but we can’t fade, forget or fall away. We would love for you to join us in committing $10/month to support the organizations and institutions permanently pushing progressive causes. We must use the frustration of November 8th as a catalyst for November 9th onwards, building a just and fair community, party, and country together.