Our BlueWave Interview this week is with Susan Rogan, the founder of Rogan’s List. After the 2016 Presidential election, many Call-to-Action sites popped up but one that continues to go strong and keeps getting better is Rogan’s List. We talked about how she started the now famous list, how she finds the fortitude to keep going, and the great interactions she’s had with some of her readers.
TS: How politically active were you prior to the 2016 election?
SUSAN: I have always voted; my first vote for president was for McGovern! I’ve also always loved a good political argument. My whole family is Republican but I’m a Democrat. Always have been.
TS: Has that political difference affected your family?
SUSAN: I have a great relationship with my siblings. We have always just known where to stop when we have political discussions. I really cherish that.
TS: Tell me how the 2016 election night went for you.
SUSAN: I had the FiveThirtyEight printout as the returns came in and it just started going bad. My overwhelming feeling that night was less about him winning than that she had lost. I was so hopeful that we would have a woman president. I had painted my toenails blue, I had connected with Pantsuit Nation and had really thought that it was finally OUR time. It was heartbreaking.
I spent two days moping and then decided I had to do something. I came around to the idea that I know information – I have an undergrad degree in journalism and a library science master’s degree. I also have a background in debate. I had the credibility to get good information out to people.
TS: So, this was the start of Rogan’s List?
SUSAN: I didn’t formalize Rogan’s List right at the beginning. I started posting a few actions a day on Facebook pages two days after the election. But then someone asked me to put these actions into a blog, which I did by November 17, 2016. So, thinking about it, I guess Rogan’s List did get going pretty quickly.
TS: How big of a reach does Rogan’s List have now?
SUSAN: We have over 5,500 subscribers who get the list in their email every day, and we post the list in 100+ Facebook pages. And of course, we’re on Twitter at @roganslist.
I had a funny incident happen when I was at a fundraiser for a state-level candidate that made me realize what an impression Rogan’s List had made. I had just been introduced to an attorney at the event and she said, “Rogan, as is Rogan’s List? I thought you were on the 3rd floor of the library at Princeton!” And of course, I was like, no, this grandmother puts Rogan’s List together from her recliner in northern Michigan.
TS: That’s pretty cool. I subscribed to Rogan’s List fairly early and it seems to me like it has really grown. How did your list evolve?
SUSAN: Early on, I connected with a bunch of other CTA (Call-To-Action) groups that had teams. I had been compiling Rogan’s List daily on my own and thought a team would be great. So, I reached out on the list and got 10 top-notch people pretty quickly. We’re up to 13 contributors now. I just ask each team member to find CTAs that touch them personally. If they care about an action, there are sure to be others in the nation as well. I generally get 1-5 items from each of them a day.
I have such a great team. It would have been very difficult to keep going by myself. By having a team, we can each take a little break when we need to and then come back with full energy. To take care of the team, we moved to only posting Rogan’s List on weekdays. This isn’t a sprint, after all.
TS: There used to be so many CTA newsletters and lists but while they’ve petered out, Rogan’s List is going strong. Why do you think that is?
SUSAN: Maybe we’re holding out for our big check from George Soros? [laughs] In all seriousness, there have been several times that I’ve thought, “I can’t keep personally doing this.” I mentally ask where the bottom is for this administration, and we always find that there’s another floor down. But then I get the sweetest thank you note and it gives me another boost. Also, my team is amazing. They make me take vacations.
I remind myself that there are communities of people who have been fighting injustice in one form or another for years – decades even – and they keep going. I think we need to listen and learn from them.
TS: If you take a bird’s eye view of what’s happening in our country right now, what do you see?
SUSAN: This isn’t the first time our country has had a divisive president, or dealt with issues around isolationism, sex, or corruption. I take great solace knowing that we’ve worked through these issues before. Right now, we need to tackle issues of ignorance, ethics, and diplomacy and I’m thinking through how we might help with that.
TS: So, what is it, at the core, that keeps you going right now?
SUSAN: People are bombarded with information every day. Not everyone has the time or ability to find the relevant information and facts, read a good analysis of those facts, or know how to act on that information. My team and I can help them. We can educate and empower – it’s what we do.
I don’t expect anyone to do all 30 items we put in Rogan’s List every day. I hope people read the list to learn what is going on and pick the items that are most meaningful to them to act on. I did have one young man, however, who did all of the items on one of our lists (I think it was 25 items that day) and then emailed me to find out what he could do next. I thanked him and then suggested he recharge by taking a walk in the woods.
TS: Wow, that’s a motivated citizen! Do you have another favorite story about one of your subscribers?
SUSAN: Many! I had a young mom write to me once to tell me that she got 3 things on the list done while she was waiting in the car line for her kids to get out of school. She found it easy and quick to do. That’s a big goal for us – you don’t have to do everything, but we want you to do something and we want to make it easy for you.
TS: How do you see Rogan’s List evolving in the future?
SUSAN: Well, at first it was just a random list of CTAs, then we added sections—federal vs. state actions as one example. We added notices of physical events like marches, and readings that didn’t require action but were good background information. Going forward, we’re looking into separating federal actions into Senate and House actions. Also, as it is a big list, how we might highlight certain actions to draw more attention to them.
Right now, we are reactive to what’s going on and I’d like to start getting in front of the news. I’d like Rogan’s List to get more proactive.
TS: Susan, thank you for taking the time to talk about Rogan’s List with me today. My last question for you is, if you only put one item on your list today, what would that action be?
SUSAN: Find a candidate or two who mirrors your values and find out how to help their campaigns. That’s the only way any of this changes.
Postscript: I encourage you to read the latest Rogan’s List and then subscribe. You can do that here: http://roganslist.blogspot.com/
Also, if you’re interested in helping Susan with Rogan’s List, you can reach her by firstname.lastname@example.org