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I’m not gonna lie. There are days when I feel like everything I care about in the world is under assault: the environment, local journalism, social justice, the fundamental underpinnings of our democracy.
You know what’s the best thing to do when the news of the day has you in your feelings, as Drake would say? Post some memes on the Internet, yes – but then actually get involved.
Hear me out: Getting involved in local elections isn’t the quixotic timesuck you think it is. Dozens of awesome women and men are running for office this year. Many are running for state and local office, where most of the decisions on issues that affect your daily life are made. And they need our help. More specifically: They need YOUR help.
As a volunteer with Ruth’s List Florida, which recruits, trains and provides resources for progressive women candidates, I often find that people want to get involved in campaigns. But they aren’t sure how, or even if they’ll like it. That’s how I used to be, too. Until I volunteered for a candidate, and she won. And it felt, like:
Ruth’s List Miami is launching its #CampaignSquad on Aug. 15 at Gramps, where you can meet candidates and learn more about how to help them win. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t worked on a campaign since you helped your friend get elected homecoming queen. Here’s some easy-as-apple-pie ways to get involved in what makes America truly great. (Democracy, amirite!?)
- Knock on doors: Candidates will tell you that canvassing, or knocking on doors for them, is the most effective way to help. It changes minds and secures votes, studies have shown. But there’s a bonus for you too: You will get to know Miami neighborhoods you’ve never seen at less than 40 miles per hour. While I walked for (now County Commissioner) Eileen Higgins, I got to know the Old Spanish homes and historic schools in Shenandoah. Who knows? Maybe someone will welcome you at their door with a pastelito.
— Frances Colón (@fcoloninFL) June 16, 2018
2. Talk to strangers: Election technology is a beautiful thing. It’s now very easy for campaigns to email you a list of names to call, with talking points, so that you can volunteer a few hours a day calling potential voters. You don’t even have to leave your house. Or put on pants.
3. Blow up those phones: No joke. One of the most effective things I can do for a candidate is call and text everyone I know in the district, ask for their vote, and follow up on Election Day. Voter turnout is low in Miami. Every single ballot matters.
And don’t worry about being annoying. Because here’s something that’s really annoying: ELECTING LEADERS WHO ARE BAD FOR MIAMI.
4. Drive the getaway car: Stating the obvious here, but it’s as hot right now as the golf carts at Melreese. When candidates knock on doors, they often need someone to drive them around the block and keep the AC cool for breaks. This is perfect for introverts like me. (You don’t even have to actually talk to anyone!)
5. Use your talents: I’ve seen professional writers provide email and social media copy, and numbers people train to be campaign treasurers. Whatever you do for a living, you can probably adapt it to help a candidate you love.
6. Organize a letter writing party: Quaint. Also effective. Just invite some friends over, brew some Dunkin Dark and write personalized postcards to voters about why your candidate is the best one for the job.
Even in a heavily Hispanic district, #PostcardsToVoters is making all the difference. This woman pulled up, pointed to her card, and asked us "where"
We looked up her precinct and helped get her to her polling place so THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to write a card ❤️ pic.twitter.com/GNGvhjVGOw
— Eileen Higgins (@eyesonmyworld) June 19, 2018
7. Just ask: Different candidates have different needs at different times. Get a hold of their campaign manager and ask about the most effective way you can help. They will love you for it. And who doesn’t want more love in their lives?
Because what do you have to lose?
Actually, a lot.