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'Reclaiming Our Democracy' book urges advocacy beyond hashtags and petitions

The cover of "Reclaiming Democracy." (Courtesy)
The cover of "Reclaiming Democracy." (Courtesy)

The political landscape in the U.S. is fraught, to say the least. Often individuals feel that their actions won’t make much difference in the long run.

Author Sam Daley-Harris says that many people want to engage in democracy, but don’t know how. Many Americans see voting as a civic obligation but don’t do much more than cast a ballot every four years. Others know the issues that matter to them and sign petitions or share posts with hashtags to raise awareness. But even that doesn’t impact policy much of the time.

Sam Daley-Harris. (Courtesy)

Daley-Harris says one of the most valuable political actions someone can take is meeting one of their elected representatives and voicing concerns or beliefs directly. He also suggests writing a letter to the editor or an opinion piece for a newspaper or magazine. These direct actions can seem daunting, but Daley-Harris says a little bit of training and guidance can go a long way.

In his 1994 book “Reclaiming Our Democracy,” he offers tips to empower people to take political action. The book was reissued this year, just in time for readers to glean some insight ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

“94% of Congressional staff said a face-to-face meeting with constituents makes a difference,” Daley-Harris says. “We’re somewhat the boss. We elected them. So we need to fess up to our own power and not be cowed by that kind of fear.”

Book excerpt: ‘Reclaiming Our Democracy’

By Sam Daley-Harris

Emiko Tamagawa produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd MundtGrace Griffin adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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