Go Time: What Are
You Going to Do?”


“Knowing that we are in a battle for democracy itself. . . what are
you going to do?”

– David Pepper

What are you going to do?

In the summer of 1955, in the hills of Eastern Tennessee, Rosa Parks attended a workshop on how to forge social change from the ground up. At the end of each training session, the trainer asked those in attendance the same question: “What are you going to do?” Six months later, back in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks delivered her response—in words (“I don’t think I should have to stand up”) and in action (refusing to stand up). Her reply changed the nation. “What are you going to do?” It’s as simple as a question gets. But your answer can change the world.

Vashitta Johnson answered by enlisting restaurants to become “voter hubs” all over Central Ohio. Ebony DeLoach answered by enlisting three generations of her family to engage their entire network to register and vote in the next election. Meg Overman answered by running as a write-in candidate in a gerrymandered district. Rachel Coyle answered by teaching thousands of Ohioans how to advocate at the Statehouse, stopping some really bad bills in the process. J. Smith Cameron answered by joining an immense national effort that struck an enormous blow for democracy in 2022.

So, go ahead and ask yourself… what are you going to do? Knowing that we are in a battle for democracy itself… what are you going to do? Knowing that battle is taking place in every corner of this country, including right where you live… Knowing that battle must be fought continuously, and not only amid the ups and downs of federal campaign cycles… Knowing that the core strategy in the battle against democracy is to systematically reduce political engagement by everyday Americans all around you… Knowing that a key element in winning that battle is restoring accountability at all levels of politics, which means running everywhere and holding extremists accountable everywhere… Knowing that this battle is far bigger than Donald Trump—that it started before he ever ran, and will continue long after he’s gone from the scene—and that many who are attacking democracy do it far more politely, subtly, and effectively than he does, right near you… And knowing that there is so much you can do to help win this battle, and that the scale of the attack on democracy requires that we all do more… Knowing all of that… what are you going to do?

I hope your answer is to find your inner Rhoda Denison Bement. I hope your answer is to resolve that saving democracy is now part of your core mission and to dedicate your entire footprint to the cause. I hope you see from the plan you’ve put together throughout this book, and from the examples set by Vashitta, Meg, Kim, Michelle, Ebony, Rachel, and others, that there is so much you can do, right now, to lift democracy. Far more than you ever have. And in ways that are absolutely necessary. And I hope your answer is to start that work now. And spur others to do the same.

“…there is so much you can do, right now, to lift democracy. Far more than you ever have. And in ways that are absolutely necessary. And I hope your answer is to start that work now. And spur others to do the same.”

– David Pepper

The Opportunity of this Moment

Why now?

First, because it’s a long game, the other side has a big head start, and we’ve been fighting this battle the wrong way for too long. The sooner we fight it the right way, the better. But as I wrap up this book in April 2023, this moment in time offers unique opportunities to get started.

For the first time in a long time, people are waking up to the threat democracy faces. Many are no longer under the illusion that democracy simply sustains itself. That broader awareness—that needed realism—is critical. Also at this moment, momentum is building around the very type of focus and infrastructure it will take to protect democracy. Stacey Abrams and others showed the way with what they built in Georgia. Run for Something is showing the way by recruiting candidates everywhere, and Tech for Campaigns is showing the way by helping so many of them. We saw that new focus, energy and infrastructure fuel those secretary of state and statehouse victories in 2022. We see it in Rachel Coyle’s advocacy work at the Ohio Statehouse, in 1,100 people joining Blue Ohio in only five months, and in Kim Allen’s Power the Vote. We see it during NFL games, on doctor’s badges across the country, and in numerous ways other companies are using their footprints to lift democracy.

So we’re not starting from scratch. Thanks to some visionary and persistent leaders, and a surging army of democracy champions, there’s long-needed infrastructure growing from the bottom up. It’s working, and it’s gaining momentum. And it’s growing at the exact moment where we can win the messaging battle we’ve lost for too long.

Think about it… in the next few years, the image of the GOP will be of Marjorie Taylor Greene making a mess of the US House. All extremism, all the time. As with too many statehouses, no good public outcomes—not even attempts to address them. She and her cohort of extremists will look just like those losing secretary of state candidates looked in Arizona and Nevada, but under a far brighter spotlight and with the whole nation watching. Then throw in Trump and other extremists battling it out in the presidential primary. Over who can most ruthlessly ban abortion. Who can ban the most books. Who can veer the furthest from mainstream American values. Despite Mitch McConnell’s and others’ best efforts, their toxic extremism will be out in the open.

All the while, the disastrous public outcomes of governance with no accountability continue to play out before our eyes. Brett Favre’s volleyball courts. Derailments and chemical spills due to lack of regulation. Crumbling schools and towns. A GOP that, unlike every American, risks economic meltdown because it refuses to pay bills its own policies racked up.

The ads write themselves. If we go on offense in our messaging, we can fully expose those attacking democracy for what they are: extremists delivering terrible results for the American people wherever and whenever they are in charge. While we make clear that those fighting for democracy represent the mainstream values of everyday Americans and are fighting for the outcomes they care about. So that growing infrastructure, and that sharp contrast, offer an enormous and immediate opportunity.

BUT… we squander that opportunity if we repeat what we’ve done for a generation. If we only harness that advantage and momentum in a few swing states to win the House, Senate, and presidency in 2024. As if that’s the entire battle. Instead, we must take advantage of the moment by going all in for the broader and longer battle for democracy we now understand that we’re in.

What does that look like? It means that our ’23 and ’24 pro-democracy work is not simply about the presidency and a few federal offices. It’s bigger, deeper,

Your footprint in the world is a powerful force. It combines your impact and influence across all aspects of your life, including your family, neighborhood, workplace, schools, organizations – even social media! You already contribute to these areas by investing your time, intellect, finances, reputation, networks, voice, passion, creativity… but for many of us, political activities like voting, volunteering, or donating remain separate from the rest of our lives.

By making “saving democracy” a core part of your mission, you can start treating it as something you do all the time, rather than just during big election years. By making this an integral part of everything you do, your footprint can have a powerful and lasting impact on our democracy.

Stay Connected: An Ongoing Conversation

My aim is that along with Laboratories of Autocracy, this book begins an ongoing conversation with all who read it. To keep up with my writings on democracy and how we fight for it, and to fill me in on your work to lift democracy, you can follow me here:





Get The Book Today

Saving Democracy is a call to action urging people like you to take an active role in preserving democracy with the practical tools and guidance you need to make a difference. With the stakes higher than ever, it’s time to see the battle for democracy we find ourselves in, then get involved and make a difference.