“This is not a drill,” Michael Beschloss said recently on The Rachel Maddow Show. He made this statement within a larger call to action. To put my own spin on the point: If you ever wondered what you would have done during a crisis, when the future of the country was on the line, when fascism was a real risk, this is what you were doing. How you are reacting today and what you are doing now is what you would have done then.
What are you doing? Voting is important, and I have been arguing, insufficient. The times we are living in call us to do more. What exactly that looks like for you, I cannot say. Whether or not you are doing enough, I do not know. Only you know whether you will judge your contributions to have been enough as the months to come unfold.
I have become a huge fan of the Pod Save America folks in the last year. Their message to “worry about everything, panic about nothing” helps. This past week I have particularly appreciated their analysis regarding the danger of spreading fear and hopelessness among low-engagement voters. Their experience with political campaigns taught them that the narrative we use to explain what is happening makes a difference.
We need to stand on a platform of strength, naming that we have a weakened, ineffectual President who knows he is losing, and he is flailing. His shenanigans and unwillingness to speak out against white supremacists reveal his precarious position and his inability to make a real, positive difference in the lives of voters. Simultaneously, messages reinforcing our power as voters is important. We will elect the next President. Our votes matter.
These are the messages on my mind when I speak with Wisconsin voters each Saturday during phone banking. The “deep canvassing” approach I learned this past year working for Measure R in Los Angeles prompted just enough courage for me to join the Adopt-A-State program offered by Crooked Media (the Pod Save America folks).
For those who recall my six-month correspondence with the “hate mail guy” within the last two years, the fact that he hails from Wisconsin stuck with me. Unfortunately, he still lives rent-free in a small corner of my brain. On the other hand, that little voice prompted me to adopt Wisconsin. That pleases me, as it would likely annoy him.
For the last several weekends, I have attended the weekly orientation, made calls, and appreciated the debrief process. Each part of the process attends to a volunteer’s fragile psyche. It is supportive and builds a sense of community. While I cannot say I love cold-calling voters, my fear has subsided. Plenty of people hang up on me. That is okay. I would hang up on me too. Surprisingly, every call session has at least one or more people authentically engaging with me.
Several people have shared their struggle to make a decision between Trump and Biden. I listened. In doing so, I learned how someone can remain an undecided voter. My hope is that my use of the deep canvassing approach in those conversations will result in lasting impact and a shift toward the Biden camp. I can honestly say the conversations felt real and meaningful. That feels good and hopeful.
Just as important have been reaching less engaged voters who already believe Biden is the right choice. These voters are so busy attending to their school, work, and family lives that they are unaware of the voter suppression tactics unleashed in their state that risk their vote going uncounted. I spoke with two college students recently, each of whom needed the voter protection information the script offered, each of whom is also now planning to share that information with their peers.
If you would like to join me in helping ensure each available vote counts in our favor, please join Adopt-A-State!
Not everyone will take that step. I know that. Another way to support is to donate, if you are in a position to do so. There are organizations and campaigns that need funding to get the job done.
Here are a few avenues that I am supporting:
Get Mitch, Or Die Trying – Flipping the Senate is just as important as replacing Trump (some would argue more important). You likely are already on board with this if you are reading this post. Money donated here goes directly to the campaigns most likely to flip the senate.
Souls to the Polls – I recently learned about this campaign operating out of Milwaukee, WI. You might have seen it too. It’s gotten some national attention. It is a voter registration push led by some Black pastors. Rev. Gregory Lewis particularly captured my attention. His call to join the fight is powerful, having continued organizing even from his hospital bed while recovering from Covid-19.
His approach speaks to my deepest desire. He articulates a vision that integrates the current focus on electoral politics with the movement for Black lives. He speaks of creating a voting bloc of Black voters in Wisconsin that can command meaningful change take place in a state that reflects some of the worst disparities in the nation. This lane on the Racial Justice Freeway speaks to me.
Freedom, Inc. – Another way to support communities of color in Wisconsin is to donate to Freedom, Inc., a non-profit organization that works with low- to no-income communities of color. They are also participating and amplifying voter registration, ballot drop off, etc. #VoteForBlackLives.
A final note regarding the election: A couple of years ago I was filmed by a documentary crew. At least one portion of their project is now available for viewing. “What would Jesus do on election day?” Admittedly, I have not watched it yet. It is on my list. Due to time constraints, I am taking the risk to share it now anyway. If you think it is useful, feel free to share as well.
Thank you for all you are doing in whatever way you are doing it. Everything counts, and every one of us can make a difference.