The midterms are over, so now what? I asked activists and organizers all over the country how they were recharging after the big election this November, and gearing up for 2019. Their answers were quite varied: some are lighthearted while others are deadly serious, some are unplugging entirely for a couple of weeks while others are doubling down on work, some are focused on family and community while others need time to themselves, and still others are taking a moment to determine how best to move forward.
Here are 36 dedicated activists and how they’re approaching these final weeks before we ring in a new year:
Jamie Carter, organizer for the Utah Democratic Party
It’s been an intense and crazy 2 years. But we did it. We won the House. I for one am not ready to relax though. The Democrats will need our support to pass our agenda in the House. State legislatures will be starting in the next month. And we have already seen what the GOP is capable of. Plus 20 Republican Senators are up for re-election in 2020. Spend some time with friends and family. Take a break when needed. But don’t back down. Our work is just beginning.
Selena Adera, activist at @Selena_Adera
The elation of midterms’ success was fast replaced by the misogynist threats against yet another accomplished and very qualified woman, Nancy Pelosi. The new political reality is that the fight never stops; doesn’t even allow you a break. So you surround yourself with strong allies, funny allies, fearless allies who pick-up the fight while you take a night’s break away from it all. You learn to step away the same way some learn to sleep wherever and whenever they can. You do little things that help you mentally rest, disconnect a bit, force you to quit Twitter (even if for only a few hours), and then you rejoin the fight. I guess the key for my rest is knowing that my allies are true, and fighting for the same country.
Fran Adelson, activist with Postcards for America
Focus on the good around you. Do random acts of kindness. Inspire others to do the same. Talk to people. Connect with people. Do whatever kind of exercise you like. Never forget what’s going on, but recharge yourself. We’re going to continue to need all the energy we have, for change.
Susan Rogan, founder of Rogan’s List
After some thought and deliberation, the Rogan’s List team has decided to take a nearly two-week hiatus, the longest break since the List began in November 2016. I am going to enjoy the Christmas season with my family and friends and sneak in another birthday after the first of the year. Unwinding will be the name of the game for me! But, we’ll be back on January 4th!
Kelly, co-host of the podcast Two Broads Talking Politics
When I get stressed and busy, I dream of knitting. As soon as the 2018 election ended I started knitting—lots and lots of hats. Knitting is calming and practical, but I’m also able to use my knit goods to fundraise for organizations, and in the process I’ve been reminded of how many terrific organizations there are out there doing really good work. In the 6 months before elections we focus so much on candidates, but to recharge in 2019 think about the issues you care most about, and think about the actions you can take. As for me, I’ll be Knitting the Wave, raising money for voters rights and criminal justice and veterans and climate science.
Pam Rickel, Texas activist at @_h_Dawg
I’ve limited time on social media and news channels. I’m focusing on my children and grandchildren. I refer to my 2 year old grandson as my emotional support baby. Nothing brightens your mood like playing with a two year old. I will be back in the fight after the holidays as I know we still have tons of work ahead.
Nick Decaro, Washington activist at @decaro_nick
I’m following intensely what WoC (women of color) are saying and diving deeply into the issues that propelled them into office in record numbers this year. Essentially I’m energized by the idea of voting like black women since they are clearly the base of our party and have saved our asses time and again. If we don’t listen to them going forward I think we’re screwed. We’ve tapped out our white voters, we won’t get any more of them than we are now and that’s not enough.
Alterra Hetzel, Virginia activist & co-founder of SWAN (Strong Women Action Network)
I work elections because it affects my children’s future and those I care most about. Spending time with loved ones, holding my babies tight, and taking the time to both reflect back and look forward is how I’m recharging for 2019! Doing these simple things always makes me hopeful….and ready for what’s next.
Alice Stollmeyer, Executive Director of Defending Democracy
How I will be recharging for the new year: start with planning to slow down – and actually doing it. As I am very passionate about Defending Democracy, I don’t have a work-life balance. So I really have to promise myself: “You will take a seven-day break” and keep my promise. What works best for me, is unplugging for a few days to get a digital detox. What then recharges me, is walking in nature, spending time with family and friends, reading fiction, listening to music, and…clearing away papers, administration, etc. After that, I will have new, creative energy for fresh ideas and plans for the next year. What has helped me in the past years, is to tune in with current affairs and myself in order to decide a motto for the new year. I’m looking forward to finding out what my new motto will be!
Matt Scharfstein, Executive Director of The Loyal Opposition
Knowing that the House will be Democratic in just over 3 weeks, I’ve given myself permission to relax. There is always more to do, but it helps provide perspective to get off “war footing,” even if it’s a short time. I’m beyond excited we have Democrats who will listen to us and be able to act come January 3rd.
Adrienne Kirschner, California activist at @clara_resists
I tend to revert back to my tried-and-true methods for recharging: Spending time with my kids, which is especially fun during the holidays, even if it’s just cuddling on the sofa while we watch a movie, exercise, and reading something completely unrelated to politics. It’s hard to disconnect sometimes, but so necessary to really recharge and keep going.
Martha Shockey, Georgia organizer with Indivisible
One small thing I’m doing on Tuesday is logging off Facebook for 24 hours (a NAACP initiative). As I thought about that, I decided that I would make this an intentional practice to give my brain a respite. I’ve not yet decided on the interval. My other plan for myself is to go back to eating well and prepping meals for the week.
Jan Wheelock, activist with Postcards for America
Postcarding is my therapy. When I’m frustrated I vent to some person of power. When feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, I create/write gratitude cards which helps ground me in the good. Sometimes postcarding is activism…often for me it is simply humanism. Also, I can’t go to the border so I take clothing to Salvation Army. I can’t remediate homelessness but I can help create basic needs packs for the homeless in my community. I can’t fix Washington, but maybe I can help get our local polling place out of a church. There is a saying…small enough to be possible, big enough to make a difference…that’s become my mantra.
Emily Gonzales Escalante, California activist and CEO of the Swell Collective
Building programs and sharing resources via Swell Center have become important rituals to remind me to pay attention to my own self care while hopefully being of service to others in the movement.
Travis, veteran and activist at @TopRopeTravis
To recharge for the new year, I am taking time off from work to be with my family, visit with friends in D.C., meditating on God’s Word in the Bible, and renewing my focus on advocating for veterans in America. I am also focusing on my personal mental health, ensuring that I am taking time to relax my mind and to reflect on the beauty our world holds — the people, nature, and love.
Kathleen Goodman, activist and member of the ATN Leaders Network
I‘m getting a massage this week, taking a small break over the holidays . . . then ready to get back to RESISTING full time in January. Feeling encouraged with a new Congress and Mueller.
Shellee O’Brien, community organizer in Texas
I’m revisiting one of my favorite pieces of political philosophy, Cicero’s Dream of Scipio. It’s all about getting perspective. Created an event out of it, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with Politicolor‘s network of civic thinkers and creators on really big questions over the holiday break. TL;DR Creating an opportunity to think big.
Avi Bueno, New York activist at @AviAhvee
I’ve been trying to write more, using the energy from this midterm win as the motivation for it. I love writing and gathering my thoughts. It’s cathartic and can act as a way to re-energize yourself as you put to word the things you think and want to see in the world.
Lainey Frydrych, Michigan activist and owner of Courageous Cause Champion
I take a self-care assessment to see what areas are draining me, and I use a weekly self-care notepad to recharge day-to-day!
Cat, Arizona activist at @catikins9
Some people I know went back to their lives after the midterms, but in this red-turned-purple state (AZ) there’s a lot of work to do to get ready for 2020. So, at the end of November, I ran for Chair in Legislative District (LD) 21 Dems. I won, and we have a whole new board. This is a two year term. We will be working hard to get the infrastructure ready for the 2020 election in our battleground of the Northwest valley. In Feb 2017, I attended my first LD meeting. Today I’m the new Chair. I strongly encourage people to attend LD meetings in your area- or whatever they are called in your state. These are low-level party meetings in your community. You’ll be able to plug in & use your skills to help get Dems elected. This is my way to serve my community & to prepare for perhaps the most consequential Presidential race to come.
Alex Mohajer, political commentator & co-founder of Bros4America
We’ve won the battle, but the war is just beginning. Make no mistake: we are at war, and the soul and future of our country and our democracy are at stake. The federal judiciary is being stacked by Trump appointees, Russian interference is still ongoing and unabated, corporate PACs still have far too much influence on our politics, and every day Republicans remain in control of the Senate and the presidency is another day that urgent problems like global warming and healthcare-for-all go unaddressed.
Storm, Tennessee activist at @StormResist
I’m recharging with a focus on a better balance between my family and my activism. The push through midterms was hectic, stressful, and ultimately rewarding with us taking the House. Now I’m energized by connecting with others to plan out a good offensive strategy. 2016-2018 was all about defense. Now we are positioned to promote positive actions. That’s energizing to me.
Julie Frontera, Michigan activist and creator of the Blue Wave Resistance Pin
I’m trying to look back at the last two years and identify my strengths in the overall efforts here on Twitter and in my community going forward, vowing to focus better as opposed to spreading myself too thin. I’ve been catching up on my reading of World War II resistance fighters which really inspires me and gives me a healthier perspective on how history has dealt with circumstances like those we are in.
Helen, Maryland activist at @Cruellaisdevine
Because our political circumstances are so drastically different than they were 2 years ago, I find that my recharging tools have evolved. Now, I must make a plan or it doesn’t seem to happen, given the relentless news and legislative upheaval. My plans for the next few weeks are 1) To disengage from social media almost completely for a week at least. I’ll have to go “cold turkey”! 2) Spend the week of Christmas slowing down to spend time with my teens during their holiday break. Time watching movies, walks, ice skating, a museum visit. 3) When we take a short trip, I’ll take time to read for pleasure and go on hikes without the shadow of “to do” list or the mom guilt that time off at home often entails. For me, having some alone time within the scope of time with my kids works really well for recharging. Best of both worlds!
Bryce Tache, founder of Stand On Every Corner
I’m recharging by spending time with family, watching movies, reading, taking long winter walks, and practicing mindfulness. I’m going to try to focus on the people and things that are most important to me — and let go of those things that are negative or unimportant.
Kaz Weida, activist and journalist at Rantt Media
For me, I think I’m trying, with few exceptions, to completely tune Trump out. Most days I don’t look at what he’s tweeting and I simply don’t respond to his or his followers’ attacks. As a journalist, I can’t completely unplug, but I am limiting my exposure to that toxicity as much as possible. I’m trying to keep my work and my focus on things I can actually do to help move us forward. Writing about Title IX, healthcare–these are the things that make a true difference in people’s lives. It’s where we can be the most effective in caring for each other not just during the holidays but throughout the year. On a personal front, I’m also using this season to just spend more quiet time at home, unplugged from devices and hanging with friends and family. We’ve fought hard for two year and we won. It’s time to enjoy it for a while. We can get back to kicking butt and cleaning this administration in the New Year.
Barbara Malmet, New York activist at @B52Malmet
I am recharging for the new year by spending time with my kids and especially my grandkids. Playing with my mixed-race two-and-a-half year old grandson reminds me of why I resist and how I need to keep resisting to ensure his future will include clear air and no racism.
TT, activist at @TrumpsTaxes
Effective resisting is a study in contrasts. It’s both a marathon and a sprint. It’s both broadly national and hyper-local. And more than anything else, it requires constant vigilance and the ability to catch one’s breath. The good news is that the resistance is not assigned to just one person. It’s vital to give yourself the opportunity to recharge. So how am *I* recharging? The holidays are especially timely this year, giving me the chance to unwind with friends and family without being attached to my phone. I’m keeping my mind fresh by doing a book of New York Times crossword puzzles. I’ve started an 8-week exercise program. Heart, mind, and body. Do a little something for each of those, and you’ll be ready to face 2019.
Jennifer Hofmann, creator of the Americans with Conscience Checklist
I’m nesting. The darkest days of the year are a perfect time to withdraw from from daily life and deeply nourish. For me, that looks like hikes in the wet forest, hours of frivolous reading, mugs of cocoa. I also love to journal about the year’s accomplishments and insights, and ponder a focus word for the coming year. Feeding the soul gives us fuel for the journey.
Shawn, Arizona activist at @CaptainsLogAz
We’ve learned so much over the last two years, how activism can make an impact and how we have to worked together to accomplish our goals of restoring democracy. It took a while to get in shape, but now we are getting our second wind. Gaining the majority in the House was just the beginning. I consider these next two years to be “The Resistance: Part 2”. This is the crucial chapter, where the corrupt are weakened due to the voice of the people protesting in peaceful harmony. This will be my favorite chapter.
Usual good self-care and good family care stuffs. Eating well, visiting with family and friends, and going for long walks. Reviewing 2018 election analytics; lots to learn and prepare before intense work.
Leia, activist at @TheSWPrincess
I’m taking a simple approach to recharging – tweeting less and focusing on quality, not quantity. Nobody can cover everything, but I have a couple of topics that I feel strongly about. We got through midterms and did GREAT! We need to remember that this will keep going, even after the 2020 election. We can never go back to being apathetic. We all need to pace ourselves and not lose perspective.
Karen Kirchen, Managing Director of The Loyal Opposition
With the election of a Democratic House, I now have confidence that our democracy will endure. I’ve always drawn energy from work, so I keep working, but at a far less frantic pace. There is a lot to be done, but with my new confidence in the fundamental safety of our democracy, I feel more comfortable taking some much-needed self care time –especially for exercise and sleep!
Jill Dennison, creator of the blog Filosofa’s Word
How am I re-charging? Actually, I have difficulty these days stepping back, giving myself a break, recharging my batteries. One thing that helps is that a dear friend introduced me to Terry Pratchett books, and while I have never had an interest in reading fantasy, I find these books are humorous and for just a little while, take me to a world other than this one. I try to read a bit of one for a half-hour or so before going to sleep, which helps. And, of course, the holiday season with all it entails has provided a diversion of sorts. Other than that, there hasn’t been time to recharge, for the abominations of our government, our society, have not taken a break, so neither can I.
Lita Rouser, activist and member of SWAN
I’m going back to basics and taking care with what I consume and increasing my physical activity. I’m treating myself in the way I would suggest a loved one do. Food choices are mostly vegetarian whole foods, organic and/or local when possible this time of year.
Janet Beauchamp, activist with Postcards for America
Postcards for America has given me purpose and kept me sane. In addition, I am now writing postcards to Legislators/CEOs/individuals for causes of National concern and, most importantly, to thank those who are stepping up to help get our country back on course. I am 81 and have never seen the likes of such a treacherous Administration and its co-conspirators…but good will prevail!