By Rev. Kathleen McTigue on August 26, 2020
Ever since its founding 80 years ago, UUSC has understood that strengthening civil society is fundamental to the defense of human rights. Open channels for civic engagement—through fair and inclusive elections, a free press, the rights to gather and organize, to dissent and protest—result in collective power, so people have a real voice in decisions that impact their communities and their lives. Where channels for civic engagement are under threat or have been dismantled under repressive regimes around the world, UUSC’s strategy has been to support organizations that build power for the people.
Our own civil society is now facing grave threats, to a degree that many of us have not witnessed in our lifetimes. With the national election less than three months away, each day brings new efforts to sow confusion and mistrust about the electoral process. While a still-raging pandemic will force a huge number of people to vote by mail, the Trump administration and the Republican National Committee are suing states to try to prevent widespread voting by mail, and the President has declared that his purpose in not funding the U.S. Postal Service is to prevent more people from voting. Overtly racist language and imagery are used to escalate divisions, and voter suppression in multiple states targets Black and brown communities.
In the coming months, UUSC will be doing all that we can to defend two of the critical pillars of our civil society: a free and fair election, and the peaceful transfer of power. We are called to this work not only as citizens who want our democracy to live up to its promise, but also as Unitarian Universalists, as we see so many of our core values under attack.
UUSC staff have already been collaborating closely with our UUA colleagues to help UU the Vote. We helped create and lead the first session of Organizing School, an energizing way to build our skills and energy to defend voting rights (you can still sign up!) With the UU College of Social Justice, we’ll be providing ongoing Community Action Circles as spaces where UUs join together for an hour of phone banking and personal outreach. We are in conversation with Power the Polls, a new group dedicated to recruiting enough poll workers—especially younger people—to keep polling stations open for those who want to vote in person. And we have collaborated with Side With Love to offer a dynamic series of webinars to deepen our knowledge about both the roots and the current manifestations of racism in our body politic, including voter suppression, so we’re better equipped to resist it; you can sign up now for the current webinar series, Taking a Collective Breath.
Our society is in a uniquely dangerous political moment, with multiple crises intersecting in the months leading up to the election—and possibly all the way up to the inauguration in January. Yet our many decades of fighting for human rights around the world also teach us that this political moment holds amazing opportunities to strengthen community, build collective power, and move our country toward our vision of real equality and representation. All it takes is enough of us joining in the struggle, and keeping our eyes on the prize of a real and inclusive democracy.
About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!
Photo Credit: iStock – IGphotography