Grieving RBG? Here’s What We Can Do Next

Ruth Bader Ginsberg

This past Saturday morning felt a lot like November 9, 2016, with one major exception…

In 2016, the sight of my then six-month-old son wriggling around in his “We Can Do It” onesie was the shot of courage I desperately needed. Despite what felt like a broken heart, I was hopeful that our democratic institutions were strong enough to withstand the anti-democratic, anti-fact approach of Donald Trump.

That hope has sustained a thousand cuts since, and a final, fatal one with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday. I faced my son, now four, and my daughter, one, the next morning sleepless with grief, anger and deep fear. Our institutions won’t save us. We have to save us.

Three ways we must do that: vote, volunteer and donate. For the next 40 days, the below are the actions we can take to channel that grief and anger and fear and honor RBG’s legacy. For Justice Ginsburg, for our sons and daughters, for our country.

I am a daughter of an immigrant, a sister, a wife, a mother, a nonprofit staff member and a former public servant. I am a D.C. voter without a representative — I don’t have a Senator or a Congressperson to call. So, I’m calling you. The below comprise recommendations from me — not any campaign.


1. First and foremost, make sure you’re registered to vote.
2. Make a plan to vote. You can figure out what your state/jurisdiction allows (in-person, mail-in ballot), registration deadlines, and if you can vote early in person here. If you’re voting by mail: send it back as quickly as you can.
3. Especially important in swing states (hi Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Virginia), talk to your friends and family and tell them why YOU are voting for Vice President Biden and Senator Harris. You can read more about Joe Biden’s plans here.

Protect the Vote

1. Sign up to be a poll worker. Because COVID most severely affects those who disproportionately volunteer as poll workers (IE people aged 65+), America is about 250k poll workers short. You will be provided PPE and training, and in some places, even get paid for your time.
2. Help register other people to vote.
3. Stay up to date. You can sign up for Team Joe Biden and you can join Women for Biden. Either way, you’ll get access to trainings, join weekly phone banks, and other opportunities to dig in and help.


Biden/Harris Campaign-specific

1. Write letters to potential voters. You’d be surprised at how effective this is — and how cathartic it feels.
2. Sign up to phone bank. Get trained here. Yes, phone banking might be the most frightening thing you can do (besides door knocking!). It’s also still the most effective. It’s easier if you do it with friends. You can sign up for the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris national effort here. You can join a weekly Women for Biden effort here. If you speak Spanish, you can join a weekly Saturday effort here. Make calls to battleground states on your own time here. There are lots of option — join one.
3. Sign up to text bank. Get trained here.

Other Ways to Engage

1. lists many region-specific options to volunteer for local and national campaigns. Make a plan to check it out weekly.
2. Vote Save America is another compendium of volunteer efforts, especially focused on battleground states, with options to target your efforts at specifically one state — even if you don’t live there.
3. Moms Demand Action started as an organization for gun sense, and is focused on keeping all families safe. Join your local chapter and phone bank with them.
4. Own, lead, or run a business? Check out Leadership Now Project for five ways you can protect democracy.
5. Call your Senator (either directly or at the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and demand that the next President choose the next Supreme Court Justice. (You can find out who your Senator is here.) This may sound scary – it isn’t. Interns answer the phone (I was one of them once!) and keep track of how many people call on which issue(s). Supreme Court Justice is a lifetime appointment – it should reflect majority, not minority rule. This is especially important for those of you living in Alaska (Senators Murkowski and Sullivan), Maine (Senator Collins), Nebraska (Senator Sasse), South Carolina (Senator Scott) and Utah (Senator Romney) – constituent or those with significant ties to the community (for example, owning a business there) are the calls that matter.


1. Donate to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s campaign. He (or she) may have been your number one candidate right from the start; s/he may have not been. It doesn’t matter. This election isn’t just important for the next four years. Without hyperbole, this election will decide who we are as Americans — and what we become as a country.

2. Donate to important Senate races. Democrats need a net gain of four seats to flip the Senate. 
a) You can donate in one place to the top 12 Senate races here
b) Adopt one (or more) Senate races. A few candidates I’m excited about/have donated to individually:
 Maine – Sara Gideon, current speaker of the Maine House, to replace Susan Collins, who gave us Brett Kavanaugh.
 Arizona – Mark Kelly – husband of Gabby Giffords, astronaut, running in a special election – which will be all the more critical if McConnell tries to ram Trump’s Supreme Court pick through.
 South Carolina – Jaime Harrison – to defeat Lindsey Graham, Trump’s ultimate enabler.
 Montana – Steve Bullock – to defeat Steve Daines, who’s campaigning on health care…after consistently voting against affordable health care and coverage for pre-existing conditions.
 Alabama – Doug Jones – Jones literally prosecuted the KKK and is the most vulnerable Democrat in this election cycle.
 Mississippi – Mike Espy would be the first Black Senator for Mississippi since Reconstruction, and polling within striking distance.
 North Carolina – Cal Cunningham – Iraq and Afghanistan veteran and local leader in ending gun violence in schools and the opioid crisis.

 Other important races to donate to: AlaskaNorth CarolinaIowaGeorgia (TWO SEATS)TexasKansas and Colorado.
3. Don’t forget about the House. This has been our only method of accountability for the last two years. We have to keep it.
4. Invest in hyper-local races. Investing in incredibly tight state legislatures in Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Kansas could help end gerrymandering for the decade to come — these are incredibly high-impact races where small dollars could make a huge difference.

Again, the three most important things we can do are vote, volunteer and donate. No matter what you do, my deepest hope is that this helps you take action. Protect RBG’s legacy, which goes so, so much further than Roe v. Wade. Ensure our daughters — and sons — grow up with the same rights we have now. And if you found this helpful, please pass it on and help others take action, especially if you’re in a battleground state. We must prevail.

Varina Winder is a writer and policy advisor based in Washington, D.C. She has worked on issues of gender equality throughout her career, currently with a nonprofit organization and previously as a civil servant at the U.S. Department of State.

P.S. Raising race-conscious children, and how to vote this fall (we’ve got you covered).

(Photo by Sebastian Kim via The New Yorker.)

  1. Elizabeth says...

    Now that we’re a couple weeks out from this post, I am curious about Varina’s updated picks for races where donations would be most impactful right now. Would love an update on COJ or links to Varina’s thoughts elsewhere. Thanks!

  2. Sophie says...

    Reading these comments that include so much commitment to act gives me great hope for this election. Jo, I have been reading CoJ for over a decade now and am so proud of the action you and your team have taken these last few years (and this year especially). Thank you for using your platform in such a meaningful and good way. Echoing what many have already said, this is not a normal election. The GOP is not the GOP, it’s Trump’s party now. And Trump is a dictator. I am all for healthy political debate but this is not normal.

  3. Katie says...

    Trump could not even condemn white supremacists in the train wreck of a debate. What do his supporters say about this? How can they actually defend this man and what does that say about them? The debate was further proof of what a bully and horrible human being he is. VOTE.

    • Anon says...

      Exactly. The man is clearly a racist – against blacks, hispanics… and basically against anyone who is not a white European (and heterosexual). He is also a misogynist. This is not a “he might be” question: His actions and words clearly demonstrate this beyond a shadow of a doubt. I am sorry to say, any one who supports Trump is either racist or completely ignorant of the facts. If a person is okay with a racist, misogynistic, criminal president… The problem becomes a fundamental difference in values, ethics and education. I just hope people like that don’t drag us back into the dark ages. Humanity has made a lot of progress on human rights, and I just can’t believe any decent person who really understands what is going on would vote for someone like Trump. Sorry, but it is the truth.

  4. Sarah says...

    Thanks to this post, I wound up signing up as a texting volunteer and have been able to recruit over 30 people to make phone calls to battleground states on behalf of the Biden campaign! Thank you again for the post.

  5. Isabella says...

    Get Mitch or Die Trying is a great place to donate, but be cautious and use your secondary e-mail address–I donated to the equivalent campaign during the 2018 midterms and they sold my data on to every single democratic fundraising website! I have spent way too much precious time clicking “unsubscribe” on dozens of different campaign e-mails.

  6. CL says...

    Hi Varina and Cup of Jo Team! I think this is some of the best content I have seen that helps people identify ways to get involved and take action. I myself am challenging myself to do at least 3 NEW things that I didn’t do during the 2016 election. I don’t want to wake up on November 4 to learn Trump won and to think “I could have done more to prevent this.”

    I would love to see the content of this blog post be created in a way that the message can be share more widely on social media. Any chance you guys are planning to make this content more easily shareable on Instagram and such? Not just the link to the blog article but to make the key points of the article shareable on IG and other outlets. I’d love to share it in this way!!

  7. Bonnie says...

    #Trump2020! #MAGA

    • Sarah says...

      Hi Bonnie! Legitimately curious – would you be willing to share why you are voting for Trump? I would appreciate the insight!

  8. Cy says...

    I concur, this is a private blog and Jo can say whatever she wants. If you don’t like it, go read something else. I would like to be non partisan and not have to pick a politic party. Unfortunately, Trump and most republicans are spewing lies and hate while Biden and most Democrats are staying the course and spreading messages of equality, love and the upholding of our democracy. By the way, Trump and his cabinet vote by mail and yet he is insisting the rest of our country can’t? The “king “thinks he can do whatever he wants. It’s despicable they way he has abused his position. There is only one possible choice for anyone who cares about their fellow citizens and upholding our constitution. Starts with a B…..

    • Hayley B says...

      Agree ?! He’s treating the country as his own personal fiefdom and displays utter contempt for the rule of law (see his blatant flouting of international trade laws, pulling out of environmental treaties because of his steadfast disregard for climate change and even ignoring the wishes of local state governments in denying them ventilators during the early days of the fight against the coronavirus — just because he didn’t like them personally! — to forcibly sending in law enforcement troops to places like Portland to arrest, intimidate and cause even more violence among protesters). Just from his attacks on TikTok alone, his constant assertions that the US Treasury should get “a huge cut” of any deal brokered in the purchase of the app by his close friend and supporter Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, is a perfect example of how he’s running the government the same way he ran his companies, notwithstanding the fact there’s no such thing as a finder’s fee for brokering a business deal for the government and would in fact be ILLEGAL to do! His botched handling of the National response to the pandemic (or lack thereof) which has needlessly killed more than 200,000 US citizens has been nothing short of willful incompetence coupled with criminal negligence, a stance made more deadly in the face of his aggressive roll backs on healthcare policies, and his enactment of foreign policies in both military and diplomatic issues has been nothing short of catastrophic. It boggles the mind that in the face of such overwhelming facts underlining his utter unsuitability for leadership, there are still people who champion him and want him to remain as the leader of the nation even while he dismantles its institutions and resulting protections for citizens, in particular at risk groups like the elderly and the homeless, among others.

  9. Kim says...

    I enjoyed this post, found some resources to help that I wasn’t aware of before, and I appreciate it. Thank you!

    I am annoyed by some of the comments calling for a more “balanced” viewpoint to be presented. Cup of Jo is not the news. This is Joanna’s personal blog. She is under no obligation to present any side of any political issue that she doesn’t believe or doesn’t want to give a platform to.

    • Hayley B says...

      YES exactly this! I find it equally annoying that the conservatives who complain endlessly that social media companies allegedly mute/suppress their views (e.g. Trump) then turn around and demand that a clearly liberal space like CoJ then mute/suppress liberal views, and threaten to leave the site if Jo and team doesn’t give in to their demands. Like seriously, goodbye and good riddance to them!

  10. Erin says...

    Excellent round-up! Thanks so much Joanna and team ✨

  11. Kathryn says...

    Yes, Varina!!! Grateful for this clearly laid out action plan, grateful to Cup of Jo for publishing it, and grateful for all the wonderful people who have already written with the steps they have taken to support the Democratic candidate.

    A proud sister

    • varina says...

      I love you! thank YOU for pushing me!

  12. Brooke says...

    I LOVE THIS!!!! Thank you, Varina and Joanna and CoJ team. Tears of YES. As I think about all of us banding together I keep thinking of this gorgeous article I read a year ago that’s giving me so much sustenance in these difficult times. About the “imaginal cells” in a caterpillar that band together during the collapse to withstand immune attack and become the butterfly. Ruth (and so many other brave women) did this to bring equality & freedom to so many of us. Now it is us!

    “Let those of us who can dream and imagine become active imaginal cells in our society. Let’s help each other survive the stew of confusion in which old fears and old habits try to abort transformation. Let’s support what is new and vital, and help our kind emerge from our time of confinement shining, spreading wings of fresh creativity and compassion and soul.”

  13. Daxi says...

    I think we should all pick the country that we want to live in if Trump wins and plan to set up shop within 90 days of the inauguration. Where would you go?

    • Roxana says...

      Weren’t you all going to do that four years ago? I believe Canada was the prevailing country of choice. Why are you still here?

    • Daxi says...

      Roxana – The country that I would want to live in is the US and nowhere else! I too was disappointed after the last election when so many “unhappy” Americans decided to stay. I (legally) migrated here, learned the language, worked my behind off (still am), and became a citizen for everything that this country has to offer. I would just rather live amongst Americans of all colors and walks of life who love and enjoy the freedoms that so many (including members of my Black/brown family) have fought for us to have. Xx.

    • Pen says...

      Might I suggest the socialist utopia of Venezuela?

    • Mollie says...

      The funny thing about Pen and Roxana’s comment is that as liberals, we could go so many places where we would be paid fairly, where women’s rights are treated as human rights, where work is being done to stop climate change. We could go anywhere in Europe, yes, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. We choose to stay because we are devoted to this country, and working for it to live up to its promise: equality for all. You, on the other hand, when and if Biden wins, I’ll be curious to hear where is the fascist place of choice? I would recommend Saudi Arabia or Russia. You can get your totalitarian government, little to no rights for women, terrible climate policy! Right up your alley!

  14. Kelly says...

    4 more years!!? 4 more years!!??

    • Katie says...

      Yikes. I honestly can’t see how Trump supporters can look past everything horrible about this president – and now the taxes? He’s a sham and a crook but his followers are cult-like. No amount of facts and critical thinking can change their minds. Hopefully, the majority of Americans will vote him out.

  15. Maya says...

    Thank you for leveraging your platform! My kids thank you!

  16. Ana says...

    I come to Cup of Jo for the great recipes, the beauty uniforms, the week of outfits, the great parenting tips. But I also come because it is a space that is political. That stands for openness, inclusivity, diversity, driving down hate, standing up against violence, and always progression. That is the beauty of the site. It can be no surprise to anyone who has spent more than a few minutes on this site and reading the comments that this is a place of love and support. Thank you Jo and your team. I hope you do lose some of your readers who might have just been here for the gorgeous light content and were challenged by your inclusive beliefs. You will get more supporters who believe in you do of a stronger and better society that is welcoming to all. Give me all the options to support you – i will start buying through your links immediately!

    • Mika says...

      Amen Ana! I second everything you said!!

  17. Caroline Pierce says...

    Thanks, Varina! This is an excellent resource.