Yesterday, I said to Walt Shaub that organizing for an election is “easy.” He called me out a little on it, which was smart.
Overnight, I realized that as someone who organized a mass mobilization and has trained thousands of women to organize, I should share some thoughts.
1) Now is the time (really it was last year but now is fine) to get involved in your local Democratic Party machine. Many may not realize that in even the reddest of red America, most places have a local Democratic Party at the county level. It may not be robust, but it’s there.
I have spoken to quite a few women who have gotten involved at a local level and absolutely transformed an old school Democratic party structure from the inside out, taking over and modernizing ground game operations that may be out of date or just not passionate. You can do this.
Moreover, in places where the local party is robust or at least functioning well, they *always* need bodies. My first experience working for the local Democratic party came in Pittsburgh when I was 19 and did voter registration door to door in the ex-steelworker slums. GOTV takes people.
ALSO: your local Democratic party is a great way to connect with like-minded people, period, and it’s good to know who the power players are in your area, particularly if you want to fundraise for or support a Presidential candidate or Senatorial candidate.
2) Get involved with your local Indivisible. Now I know some of you are going to say “my local sucks” or “my local is run by a nasty jerk,” and sometimes that is true, but overall Indivisible is invaluable. I know folks at the top of the Indivisible Team. They’re awesome.
Moreover, your local is coordinated with others all around the country who are all aiming at the same goals. And again, working with committed people sustains us for the battles to come.
3) If the Black Voters Matter bus comes to your town, please get out and support them, or donate to their foundation. My friend Peggy got them into South Bend and changed lives.
LaTosha Brown and Cliff_Albright are the best organizers I know and they are empowering transformation.
4) Combat voter suppression at the local level by becoming a precinct captain. At the local level, Republicans have been great about putting people who have no qualms about lying about the law in these positions to stop people of color from voting. YOU can be the change here.
Training is usually not long and you can be onsite on Election Day to make sure that there’s no one saying you need an ID to vote when you don’t or refusing an affidavit if someone’s name has been wiped off the rolls. YOU can be the backstop that guarantees voting rights.
5) Volunteer for a presidential, senate or house campaign. There are so many opportunities here. Canvass. Write postcards. Text and phone bank from your couch. Commit to one weekend a month or a few hours a week.
Some campaigns are better than others at this but the opportunities are there. Having seen the inside of Elizabeth Warren’s campaign here locally, I can tell you that they are a nationwide *machine* for grassroots mobilization.
However, the same level of commitment and passion was in place in Katie Porter’s campaign when she flipped this district blue in 2018, and it was amazing to see the hard work and JOY of doing it that was inside her HQ on Saturday mornings.
It may seem scary to do this if you’ve never done it, but please get to a campaign headquarters in your area for a candidate you care about and ask what you can do to help. They will tell you and you can choose from a host of options. You’ll meet astonishing people along the way.
If you are a person of privilege and plan to canvass, please volunteer to partner-canvass with women and/or POC who may be fearful of harassment. It’s not unheard of for crazy White people to call the cops on Black canvassers. Do your part.
6) Talk to your neighbors. Now this is where I know for some of us it gets scary. Personal note: I have trained women on how to use their voices for change over the past three years. I always account for personal safety when I suggest this.
E.g., you don’t need to walk up to the front door of your Trump-loving NRA stickered neighbors house and try to convince them to vote for Warren. HOWEVER, most of us waste our interpersonal interactions a lot for fear of offending others.
A few thoughts on this:
- Your voice matters, no matter who you are. Yes it does. Yes it does. That narrator in your head telling you otherwise is structured oppression. Shut it down. -Get used to the idea that not everyone is going to like you. Trust me, it’s ok.
- In your daily interactions at the post office, the grocery store, your kids’ school, ask everyone you come into contact with if they’re registered to vote. I know some people who carry voter reg forms in their cars for this, or have the link printed on cards to hand out.
- At professional and personal events, don’t hesitate to mention that you’re volunteering with a campaign or an organization to GOTV. You’ll be astonished by how many people find that valuable and want to know more.
- If you come across a disaffected voter or someone who didn’t vote in 2016, your job is to take a page from LaTosha Brown’s book and lead from a place of inspiration. Every vote matters. YOU can have a say in the future of this nation. YOU matter. Start there. Keep talking.
- Keep doing this kind of grassroots outreach *everywhere*. Who cares if you become notorious and people find you annoying at birthday parties. Seriously. Keep going. At least they’ll all know why it matters straight through to November.
7) Commit to a few causes or candidates— no one can do it all. Trust that the rest of us will do the same. If you’re concerned about voter suppression, get with Stacey Abrams‘ organization, Fair Fight. Shannon Watts and Moms Demand Action do incredible nationwide work on gun control.
Every issue-based org is also ramping up for 2020 and will have its own mobilization efforts. Pick a cause or a candidate you care about and stick with it.
8) Last word: I have been saying since the minute Trump was elected that this would be a marathon and not a sprint. Your time and effort now is mandatory to save democracy, but/and so is your sanity.
Take time out when you need it. Exercise. Meditate. Laugh with your friends. Dance with your kids. Get out and enjoy nature. Have hot consensual sex if you want to.
Participate in LIFE. It allows us to keep going. They cannot crush our hope and our spirits unless we let them.
We can do this. We MUST. Get to it. 2020: Blue or Bust.
Originally posted on Twitter. Re-posted with permission.
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