10 ways to stay politically engaged, even after winning the 2012 election

Obama won. But we’re far from done. How long did it take after President Obama won the popular vote and the electoral college for Republicans to assert that, despite all that pesky evidence, their ideas won and that, basically, nothing has changed? Hours?

So, it’s clearly not realistic for Democrats and the left to enjoy victory and take a break. The media is already speculating about 2014 and 2016, and even if you think that’s premature and silly, it’s reality. In addition, both the Democratic and Republican parties–as well as potential candidates–are already positioning themselves for those elections. And state legislatures have wasted no time in moving forward on unfinished business [for example, Michigan’s lightning quick passage of right-to-work-for less legislation] and gathering momentum for other agenda items. We need to stay on high alert.

That’s why, suggests Winning Progressive,  we need to stay actively engaged in the political process. And the site offers a helpful 10-point program for doing exactly that. The list also includes helpful resources for information and action. Here’s the plan:

1. Don’t be distracted by side issues, punditry and the incessant chatter.  The war against voters, women, unions, workers, education, healthcare, science, the gay community, immigration, minorities, the President and even Christmas will continue. And keep your eyes on the Heritage Foundation.

2. Get your voter identification, or if you have what’s needed in your state [or may be required in the future] help someone else update theirs.  Just because the election is over doesn’t mean Republican dirty tricks will stop. Don’t wait until another election is near: do it now. National Conference of State Legislatures has a database with all state voter identification requirements.

3. Register to vote and make sure your registration has actually been recorded. During this past election, Republicans destroyed Democratic registrations, switched Democrat registrations to Republican or failed to record them at all.  It isn’t enough to just sign your name…make certain you are “correctly” registered to vote…even if you just voted…take nothing for granted.

4. Follow the legislation that affects your life, and the voting record of your state and federal representatives. OpenCongress is a non-profit, non-partisan public resource where you can track all of the legislation in Congress.

5. Don’t get blindsided.  Candidates have records! Voters have a tendency to make decisions based on campaign rhetoric, when candidates are telling the public “what we want to hear”, but candidates have records that will give a clue to what they “really” believe. Project Vote Smart is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that gives the biographies, voting records, issue positions, ratings, speeches and campaign information of politicians. Another is On The Issues.

6. Pay attention!  “States Rights” have very special implications and because of gerrymandering, Republicans control many state governments and are likely assured to do so for the next 10 years.  It is where the “real” assault is taking place.  Who runs your state?State Government – USA.gov. – Resources and websites on U.S. states and territories, local and city governments.

7. Let common sense, instinct and knowledge be your guide.  We are all too often swayed by emotional and superficial values.

8.Find reliable sources to stay abreast of current events.  Try to steer clear of ideological agreement and seek out sources that report based on facts.  Sadly, that may not always be the media, so it’s important to

9.Do your own fact-checking. Congress.org is a nonpartisan news and information website dedicated to encouraging civic participation.

10. Get involved and stay involved.  Support petitions, contact your representatives…rally for the legislation and legislators who support your cause.  Write, call, fax, email, tweet, rally …make your voice heard!

The only thing I’d add would be to keep the conversation alive. Not only do we need to watchdog the right, we need to keep talking about the progressive agenda and why it’s better for our country. We need to remind ourselves–and those around us–that it’s about doing things in the interest of the common good, looking out for the well-being of others, doing the big things collectively that individuals and states can’t do for themselves, continuing to ensure access to the basics of democracy–and all of the other pillars of progressivism. And, finally, we need to keep repeating that even Americans who claim to want “less government” depend on it everyday.