Long gone are the early days of TN fandom, when we were fighting about Max vs Will, sharing smexy Theo James gifs, and worrying about Sam’s hair. Today we have grown and matured into important civic changemakers, attending immigration rallies, marching for reproductive rights, and, well, still worrying about Sam’s hair.
This past year has taught us that the future is female, and now’s the time to activate our Wonder-T(wi)Ns power to unite and GOT(damn)V!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten waaaaay more engaged since that fateful day in November of 2016, when everything seemed to come crashing down: calling, knocking on doors, donating, and basically doing anything I can to not have to be alone with my terror about the upcoming election.
There are a lot of great resources out there to help you find actions: Swing Left can hook you up with events in any swing district. There’s also Indivisible, Crooked Media (which is offering a chance to attend a live show if you sign up for an action in California before 9/23!), and I’ve also gotten in touch directly with candidates I like through their websites!
For those of you not sure how to jump in, here’s a handy guide on to how to campaign, what to expect, answers to your greatest hang ups, and some inspirational gif moods:
Person to person contact is the most effective way to get people to the polls, and it’s actually really fun! The push in this election is to get low-turnout Democratic voters to the polls by getting them to commit to a plan for November 6th. These are folks who probably are on board with the platform, but just aren’t really engaged in the process, so you won’t be having to use your rapier wit to take down a Twitter-troll. If you are traveling outside your district, I highly recommend finding a bus trip (Swing Left is a great resource!) – it’s more fun to be a part of a group! Bonus: You will get ALL your steps in!
The hang up: “I don’t know enough to engage with voters!”
The reality: You will be (mostly) talking to people who have very little idea what’s going on, because they have blessedly not been sucked into the vortex of stupid that is our social media lives.
Sample interactions: “There’s an election?,” “Affordable Care Act? What’s that?,” and “who is our Congressperson now?” So basically, if you’ve read more than 3 political articles in your life, or watched a single episode of The West Wing, you have all the knowledge you need!
What to bring: Water, comfy shoes, big-ass hat, a sense of humor. Fashion is also super-important (narrator: it really, really isn’t), so might I also suggest some fly voting gear, like this “Vote” tee from my canvassing partner in crime, @krankpress:
To grab a tee of your own, shoot Nor an email. She also makes cute “Vote” totes to carry your pens and clipboards in!
. . . of relevant positions held by your local Democratic candidate!
Phonebanking is pretty high-tech these days – you get set up with a web portal on your laptop that dials the numbers for you, and only connects when someone picks up. A lot of campaigns have an option where you can phonebank remotely for the candidate, but it’s more fun if you can find an organized event because there is a bit of down time between each call and it’s nice to shoot the shit with others. It’s also fun to cheer for the bell dings when a caller gets a voter to commit to the candidate! Bonus: Bring along your knitting, and keep your Etsy shop up and running while you promote democracy!
The hang up: “I don’t want people to be as mean to me as I am to spam callers!”
The reality: True, you guys are assholes (jk!), but remember that you will be calling people who mostly agree with you. When people get pissy about getting a lot of campaign calls, I like to point out how great it is that their vote is that important (I live in Cali – no one ever calls me because my vote is essentially meaningless, so I’m pretty jelly).
Sample interactions: “My husband will be voting Dem for the first time in 20 years this November!” and “Please take me off you list” (Literally, the most common thing you will hear)
What to bring: Laptop, headphones, and a friend!
Postcard writing is a fantastic way for the introverts among us to interact with voters! Find a group on your local Swing Left or similar organization, grab your favorite pom-pom topped pen, and tap into your inner Abigail Adams while inspiring a voter with your motivational words! Bonus: there are usually snacks!!
The hang up: “I don’t know what to say”
The reality: There are usually talking points provided, so all you need to do is talk about them in your own voice. You can also use the group of peeps you are writing with to workshop ideas and get feedback.
Sample interactions: “Mmmmm, this bruschetta is delicious,” “my hand hurts,” and ” how do you spell ‘profligate’?”
What to bring: A pen, a friend, and strong hand muscles!
If you don’t have the time to spare on an action, campaigns always need money!
The hang up: “I don’t have any money”
The reality: Truth. While I’m guessing you all don’t catch up on your That’s Normaling from the luxury of your gold-plated commode, it doesn’t take a lot of money to make a difference in today’s digital heavy campaigns. Presidential candidate, Senator (name redacted), famously built his campaign on an average donation of $27 after all! You can also raise money from your friend group to multiply your impact! Find a candidate or GOTV organization you really like and have a house party (everyone loves a party!!) or set up a Facebook fundraiser for them/it.
What to bring: Your money, your friend’s money, your family’s money, your hairdresser’s niece’s boyfriend’s money.
Nagging the non-voters in your life to the polls
True story: In my 20s I was an active member of the “my vote doesn’t matter” club. What changed? I had a friend who nagged the mother-loving crap out of me about “civic duty” and “your vote can make the difference” and “what if everyone thought like you? Huh, miss smarty pants?!” (It helped that she was also my roommate so not only could I not escape it, I also could not murder her because I’d have to be the one to tell her parents).
But the thing about nagging is, it totally works: look at me now! The nag-ee has become the nag-er! So make a goal to bring one (2? 10?) of your friends to the polls this November – it just might make the difference!
The hang up: I don’t want to nag my friends
The reality: If they are your friends, they will deal with it. And maybe, someday, you will be able to look back in pride as they reverse-nag you about getting your ass out to canvass!
What to bring: Your nagging voice. Maybe some bribery snacks.
In conclusion: shit is real, and we need everyone on board!
Think about it: if each one of the
100,000 12,000 1,000 100 people who read this post commit to spending just one hour a week getting folks to the polls, we could contribute an extra 600 person hours to the cause! To put that in perspective, this past weekend I was on a canvass in which about the same number of person hours knocked on 3,000 doors! In congressional races that are being won by margins of as small as 1,000 votes, we could literally make the difference!
54 days, people – let’s get to work!
Happy GOTV-ing, bitches!
If you have any questions about this stuff or have actively campaigned and have additional ideas/insights, please discuss in the comments! Also, here’s a great series of tutorials from Resistance School about campaigning that take some of the mystery out of it!