When the news came out that Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went to Instagram to offer Americans hope — and tangible steps everyone can take to improve the state of our democracy.
“If Mitch McConnell is not going to honor RBG’s final wish, we will, and we have to.”
This is the call to action Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) ended her Instagram live with on Friday night, now available as an IGTV video titled “What do we do?”
This video was AOC’s response to the sadness and fear many Americans expressed after they found out Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) had passed away at 87 that same evening, during the High Holiday of Rosh Hashanah. RBG was the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court. She weighed in on major cases, as a lawyer and Supreme Court justice, many of which made major legal strides in gender equality. Not many Supreme Court justices are feminist pop culture icons with a nickname like Notorious RBG.
AOC pointed out in her video that one of RBG’s last wishes, which she expressed to her granddaughter, was to keep her seat at the court vacant until a new president was elected. While on her deathbed, RBG knew the gravity of her seat being open.
Despite RBG’s wishes, however, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not waiting. And this could lead to conservatives having control of the Supreme Court. It would become a 6-3 majority.
AOC described what’s at stake, referring to the vacancy as “extremely, extremely significant…it’s just earth-shattering.” Reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, health care, labor protections — all of these things are at risk of being taken away.
Although RBG’s death might be one of several final straws in 2020, AOC told us not to let despair, fear, and cynicism prevent us from taking action.
“It is not hyperbole,” said AOC. “The actual balance of our democracy rests in the actions that we choose to make … between now and November on election day and after, so now is the time to tune in…”
AOC emphasized that our democracy is under attack and that losing a pivotal figure like RBG is unsettling, but she also made it clear that Americans can still help keep our democracy thriving. Since RBG’s seat is vacant, Trump’s administration will be working to refill that seat with someone who backs their interests.
In her Instagram video, AOC said a lot of things will happen in the coming months, and it’s up to us to stay alert and be ready for it. She then gave actionable steps that every person can take to help. These are AOC’s recommendations for the American people looking to uphold RBG’s legacy — and our democracy.
Check Your Voter Registration Status
Check your voter registration status online immediately! In her video, AOC told viewers to check that same night. Even if you think you’re registered, check it anyway. If you moved since the last time you voted, you definitely need to update your registration.
Voter suppression is a real problem, even in Democratic states. AOC mentioned her district in the Bronx has major voter suppression. There were no early voting, no mail-in ballots, and no no-excuse absentee ballots in the Bronx district when AOC was running for Congress in 2018.
The Trump administration is currently criticizing the use of mail-in ballots, although discouraging mail-in ballots could also hurt Trump’s followers’ ability to vote. It’s important to make sure that no last-minute hiccups prevent you from voting, since there are other elements that could be at play. Don’t wait until the final hour to check your status!
Vote! This Election Is Incredibly Important
AOC tells viewers that this November election isn’t about voting for the candidate you like the most — it’s about voting for a candidate that will keep our democracy alive. If you usually don’t vote because you have lost faith in the system or this current election hasn’t moved you, AOC addressed you specifically. She said:
“I understand why people say, ‘I don’t vote.’ I’m not here to dismiss you, I’m not here to poopoo you, I’m not here to say you’re wrong or that you’re a bad person. I’m here to say that this year, this election, voting for Joe Biden is not about whether you agree with him. It’s a vote to let our democracy live another day.”
AOC also mentioned that we need to work in solidarity to show up for Americans who need the most protection. Who we elect will affect those people the most.
Call Five People You Know You Can Persuade
AOC talked about small things you can do to affect the outcome of this election. One of these things is looking at the people in your community and family, and having conversations about this current election. AOC is sure that everyone has people in their lives that listen to them just because of who they are to them.
That’s why she recommended making a list of five people you know you can persuade and calling them that evening to have the conversation. She challenges us to find 5 people every week or every few weeks to call and try to shift their perspective before November’s election.
Get Involved/Organize In Your Community
Getting involved and organizing may sound overwhelming, but AOC recommends a simpler approach to going about it: “You don’t have to jump into the front line. You don’t have to be the one person that organizes in your community … it’s not about starting a new organization.”
Instead, AOC says to observe the people who are already doing this work in your community: “I promise you they exist. Very often, the people doing that work are underrecognized. So just lay back and look around. Be observant of who shows up in your community.”
Go to rallies, meetings, and when they ask for specific actions or requests, show up. AOC comes from the grassroots movement. She said if you show up to these meetings, rallies, and protests, you will be noticed. The elders and people with more experience will want to help you and guide you in the right direction.
Find the Best Way to Contribute
“We are up against a corrupt established network,” said AOC.
AOC mentioned that McConnell did not wait to deny RBG’s dying wish, so we cannot wait until November to take action. This means finding the best way you can contribute and taking that action. If you have money, donate to organizations. If you are an artist, create work that motivates people to act. If you don’t have money but you have the time, to use this time to do more.
AOC talked about being ready for all the misinformation and obstacles the right will throw at us. A role you can take is correcting all the misinformation that shows up on social media. There is a huge problem of misinformation being spread, especially to Spanish-speaking people. If you speak Spanish, your translation skills are greatly needed. If you have a unique story, share that story to inspire people to act.
“We are all tired, but this is how authoritarianism works,” said AOC. “To wear you down until you give in. And right now what we need to do is never give in!”
Did you find AOC’s response moving? What actionable steps AOC mentioned will you be taking? Let us know in the comments!