Compassion, equity, and democracy are among many values embraced by Unitarian Universalists. But it’s our actions that make those values come alive and mold changes to forge a more just society.
UU the Vote is a bold initiative created by the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Side With Love team, providing UUs a thoughtfully crafted “plug-and-play” opportunity to bring our democratic values to life in a crucial and urgent struggle. The debut campaign in 2020 exceeded all goals by engaging over 5,000 volunteers from 450 UU congregations who made over 3 million contacts with potential voters. Those contacts included voter registration, issue education, get-out-the-vote drives, and more. UU the Vote is now constructing a nationwide team of volunteers to help counter deliberate, dangerous threats to democracy and civil rights through the 2022 campaign.
“We lead with hope; we lead with love.”
UU the Vote gatherings, whether online or in person, are joyful occasions. Organizers infuse activities with positive energy for creating a more inclusive democracy and just society. Campaign Manager JaZahn Hicks set the tone at the spring kickoff: “We lead with hope; we lead with love.”
Midterm elections draw smaller turnouts compared to presidential election years, but the 2022 election carries high stakes. UU the Vote aims to lift participation to meet the moment. Forces threatening our republic haven’t receded since the insurrection of 2021; they’ve just shifted points of attack from one capitol to fifty, and from physical force to less violent tactics, such as removing registered voters from the rolls or installing election officials willing to subvert voters’ will.
As a result, elections in 2022 won’t merely determine who is elected but how our representatives are elected for years or decades to come. The results will decide whether we continue progressing toward an inclusive, multiracial democracy or allow the disenfranchisement of poor, Black, Indigenous, people of color citizens, and other voters.
Along with enabling other rollbacks of civil rights, the U.S. Supreme Court continues allowing states to enact voter suppression laws with rulings like last year’s Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, which restricted citizens from using the Voting Rights Act to challenge state barriers to voting. Meanwhile many state legislators push bills that would reverse decades of work toward achieving full personhood for many of us and seek to legalize discrimination based on skin color, gender identity, sexual preference, physical ability, or religious beliefs.
Unless historically large numbers of voters aligned with our values show up to make their opinions heard, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and outright subversion of voters could reverse more than a century of progress toward inclusive democracy and transform our republic into an authoritarian state.
“Belief in the dignity of human life and our right to democracy is fundamental in our faith.”
Hicks said Unitarian Universalism’s calling is clear: “Belief in the dignity of human life and our right to democracy is fundamental in our faith. UUs will organize with love and courage to preserve, protect, and defend the democratic process and civil rights for all.”
This confidence is rooted in sound planning, dedicated and talented staff, and regenerating the incredible spirit and energy we witnessed during UU the Vote’s 2020 debut. While some volunteers are veteran organizers, many are new to activism, so UU the Vote offers a regular flow of online training, recorded webinars, instructional materials, and “office hours” with staff available to answer questions and guide you to desired information. There are opportunities crafted for both individuals and groups.
Among new innovations for 2022, UU the Vote has introduced a Good Trouble Congregation program to help inspire people who worship together to organize together. Congregations meeting four of seven action goals will receive a gift box, special recognition, and invitations to a post-election celebration with UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray, the Side With Love team, and special guests.
The 2022 campaign will also spotlight several critical ballot questions. In many states, partisan gerrymandering creates “safe seats” and elected officials who can freely ignore constituents who disagree with their policies. Citizen ballot initiatives increasingly are the last resort to achieve essential progress or prevent further erosion of civil rights. UU the Vote will support proactive ballot measures to expand Medicare, raise minimum wages, curb the drug war, achieve marriage equality, and restore voting rights, among others.
UU the Vote also will defend against regressive initiatives or referenda (questions put on the ballot by state legislatures) that restrict voting, ban abortion, impede the right to protest, and in many states, attack citizens’ ability to use ballot initiatives at all.
UU the Vote filled a vital role in 2020 as a faith-based organization working for deepening democracy, expansion of rights, and firm opposition to the rise of white supremacist, authoritarian forces.
Our congregations can be the embodiment of our sacred values that propel our faith and communities towards a world in which all our communities thrive. Join UU the Vote in the work collectively to create Good Trouble and build a truly multiracial democracy.
To get involved, visit UUtheVote.org.