photo credit: Loey Werking Wells
The 2020 Election is a few days shy of a year from now. If you’re super okay with Trump as president, McConnell as Senate Majority Leader, Barr as AG and a number of Republican down-ballot candidates winning , as well as some truly odious state ballot measures passing, do nothing more than vote. There’s really no effort required, thanks to dark money, Fox serving as a propaganda tool of the Republican Party, and inertia. A body at rest stays at rest, so the default always falls to the status quo. Oh, and there’s that little promise from Putin, that he plans to mess with the election, so yeah if you’re cool with things the way they are, do NOTHING.
But if you detest the idea of children torn from their parents and a broken immigration system becoming a human rights disaster, being represented by cabinet secretaries who are the richest of the rich, being a citizen of the only country to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords, need I go on…then you need a plan. Like running a marathon, or getting married, you only have to show up for that one day event, but would I recommend it without preparation? Nope. So here’s a daily, weekly, and monthly action plan for ensuring that we have a sliver of hope for democracy to win in 2020. You don’t have to do it all, and I won’t. But you can pick and choose what works for you and at least do something. Believe me, it’s far more empowering and kick-ass than whining on Facebook and posting memes.
We have 362 days until the 2020 election and even if you didn’t do something every day, you can still make an impact.
Text Bank: Remember phone banking? Yes, they still exist. But if you don’t like talking on the phone, or you want to reach Millennials and Generation Z voters, who won’t pick up a call, text bank. Like postcards, there are candidates and causes that will hook you up with the numbers to text. You won’t do them every day, but it’s possible over the course of the election that you could send out 362 texts.
Educate: Podcasts are an easy way to learn. Pod Save America, Pod Save the World, Lovett or Leave it, The Daily, Stay Tuned with Preet, The Axe Files, Why is this Happening with Chris Hayes, End Times Pep Talk (disclaimer: I know them and they are great!), Gaslit Nation, and The Ezra Klein Show, are some of my favorites, just to name a few. Read. Don’t Think of an Elephant, Dark Money, and Red Notice are just a few of thousands of books about politics, current affairs, how our brains work when being political, apathetic and everything in between.
Run! For office that is. Research filing dates, talk to trusted friends, get signatures, do whatever you have to do and run for an office. Even the dog catcher makes policy.
Send Postcards: There are a number of groups that gather, decorate and write postcards to likely Democratic voters, encouraging them to get to the polls. This is non-obtrusive — everyone likes getting a piece of handwritten snail mail — and it may be the thing that gets a non-voter to vote. How do you do this? There’s an entire system set up by organizations like Postcards To Voters and Swing Left. You can write them alone or at a postcard party. Over the course of the next year, it’s very doable to send 52 postcards and that’s 52 people who might otherwise not have voted.
Canvass : Once we have a candidate to run against Trump, get out there and walk the streets for our candidate. I don’t care if it’s Bernie, Biden, Warren, Buttigeig or a damn fig tree, get out there and go door to door. I know it seems stupid, that you actually have to ask for a vote, but that’s the way our system works. The reason you need to start before the primaries is that you need time to find a group, meet a few people that you like and be there as they develop canvassing plans. If you start now, you’re going to have posse of friends with which to canvass come summer.
Give: I make a monthly donation ranging from $5–20 to a number of causes. If you’ve got the cash, political candidates running for president, Congress, state and city offices need money to run. There are also a multitude of organizations that have been fighting long before election day and will be here long after. The ACLU, SPLC, Committee to Protect Journalists, Supermajority, Emily’s List, and NRDC are just a few.
Host: I’ve been to a number of fundraisers, whether they are huge auctions, or house parties, and they always need someone to host. If you have the financial means, a couple dozen friends or neighbors, and a few hosting skills, it’s easy to open a couple bottles of wine while your guests open their checkbooks and give to a candidate or cause.
Meet: There are a multitude of groups that meet monthly working in the trenches for democracy. League of Women Voters, Indivisible, or your state or local Democratic party are just a few. I have been lucky to be on the board of an organization that hosts a semi-monthly event called Listen Learn Lead, which is an excellent forum for learning about a certain topic and how you can help lead change.
THE BIG EVENT: ELECTION DAY 2020
Vote. That’s all you have to do. Get yourself to the voting booth and VOTE!
But if you want to go the extra step, help others vote. In states that don’t have mail at home voting — thank you Oregon, Washington and Colorado — people need a way to get to the polls. Find an organization that helps provide transportation. Be that transportation. And check in with everyone you know, both the day before and on election day, to ensure that they know where to vote and that they actually go there and do so!
Finally — A vote is a terrible thing to waste. Don’t vote 3rd party, no 3rd party candidate has ever won. I get it, the two party system is terrible in so many ways, but it’s what we have. Want to build up more viable options? Then work on building alternative candidates in local races, help in non-election years to advance for a multi party system, but don’t just waltz in on election day and think voting 3rd party is really voting for something. It’s voting against something.
In that vein, don’t write in Deez Nutz, Stephen Colbert (unless he’s running!) or your third grade teacher. I mean, you might as well not vote. It’s just a fuck-you to the system. Look, I know the electoral college makes it seem like your vote doesn’t matter, but in the anti-vaxxer world there is something called herd immunity. It’s the idea that you don’t have to vaccinate your kid because if so many people do it, then they and others will be protected by the herd. Works well in theory, but say that herd doesn’t show up. If there are enough people who don’t vote for the candidate you hate the least, then the other party wins. Don’t believe me? Oregon, which is thought to be a solid navy blue, did go for Clinton in 2016, but the actual percentage voting for her was 50.1%. That, my friends, is not a rout. She did not decimate Trump. I don’t know about you, but those are not odds I want to ensure my safety and well-being.
There you go! Democracy is the people, the etymology of the word, the idea, the practice, it’s all about us. We’ve forgotten this, but every single one of us needs to participate. Think of the birthday party for a kid where no one shows up. It’s sad, and horrible. That’s what not showing up for elections is like, except there’s no celebrity who’s going to tweet a smiley face emoji at you when you’re sitting alone watching returns and realizing with dread that Trump has four more years.
* I will be writing more in-depth and detailed articles on Election 2020 in the coming months.