As a large portion of dismayed voters wrestle with the election results and the implications of having Donald Trump as our president, Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has argued grassroots politics is the only way to truly gain ground against the possible threats under a Trump presidency. During an interview with Stephen Colbert on the CBS's Late Show on Monday night, Sanders shared where he stands in regards to our current political upheaval. He explained why he believes that now, more than ever, it's crucial that members of the Democrat Party and left-leaning third-party voters funnel their concerns into fully mobilized grassroots political involvement. "Something is fundamentally wrong and what I’m trying to do right now is bring about structural changes in the Democratic Party so that it becomes a grassroots party,” Sanders told Colbert.
When asked by Colbert what needs to most immediately change about the Democrat Party, Sanders said it "cannot continue to be run by the liberal elite. The party has got to transform itself to be a party which, first of all, opens the door, that is the party that feels the pain of working-class people, of the middle class, of low-income people, of young people." Considering the high stakes this election has presented for basic rights, including Trump's threats of repealing Obamacare, his plans to force Muslims to register, and the ambitiously xenophobic plan to build a wall along the border of Mexico and then force Mexico to pay for it, Sanders' call for Americans to support one another on the local level is extra pertinent.
“When millions of people stand up and fight back we will not be denied,” Sanders told Colbert.
For those feeling paralyzed or overwhelmed by the question of where to start, we've included a handful of crucial organizations that could use volunteers or donations.
The Trevor Project
Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project is a national resource providing suicide prevention services and mental health support to LGBT or questioning people between the ages of 13 to 24. Whether your availability and resources allow you to volunteer time, donate money, or do both, The Trevor Project is an organization that deserves as much support as it can get, particularly during a Trump presidency.
The combination of Trump's threats to defund Planned Parenthood and his ongoing promises to repeal Obamacare make it crucial, now more than ever, to support the accessible health care services provided by Planned Parenthood. For those looking to support with their time, Planned Parenthood has volunteer opportunities and of course, they are also accepting and in need of donations.
Black Lives Matter
There are a lot of ways to get involved with and support the principles of the Black Lives Matter movement, which seeks to fight state-sanctioned violence and hold police accountable. The collective is always in need of and accepting donations, but beyond that, you can search your local chapter and get involved in teach-ins, panels, days of action (and protest).
The Council On American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
As of now, The Council On American-Islamic Relations is the nation's Muslim advocacy group and seeks to protect the civil liberties of Muslim-Americans while actively building coalitions for mutual understanding across religious boundaries. The organization has everything from a government affairs department dedicated to monitoring legislation and lobbying, to a media relations department focused on building positive media representation. You can contact your local chapter to get involved as well as donate.
It would feel like heresy to cite Sanders' commitment to grassroots activism without including the Vermont senator's Our Revolution on the list of ways to get involved. The mission goals of Our Revolution, as outlined on its website, are centered on revitalizing American democracy, empowering progressive leaders, and elevating political consciousness. You can get involved and join one of the phone banks, do local organizing, or simply donate to Our Revolution.
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been instrumental in defending reproductive rights, immigrant rights, civil rights, and LGBTQ rights by defending the rights of the marginalized in court and through legislature. They've already received a record high of donations since Trump was elected, but can always use more volunteers and sustained donations for months and months to come.
There are countless other important grassroots organizations you can volunteer time with, or donate your money towards, but hopefully these can serve as a compass for those feeling overwhelmed by the concept of direct action.