For a few weeks just before the 2017 election, I staffed a table at one of my county Democratic Party’s volunteer centers. People who had signed up to phone bank or canvass came to a central location and it was my job to send the canvassers off with their map and materials or to send phone bankers to a near-by room to phone bank. In the back, a small group of people were entering the data that canvassers brought back. Trump had just been elected and Democrats were energized. People who’d never done any political volunteering in their lives were showing up, ready to do whatever was necessary.
One afternoon a young woman came in and waited for the room to clear. She came up to speak to me and it was clear she was upset. She was teary-eyed and hyperventilating.
She told me that she’d signed up to phone bank because she was so upset about Trump and felt like she needed to do something. But sitting in her car outside the center, she’d realized that she just couldn’t do it. Calling strangers and asking for their vote was too scary. She said that even coming in to say she couldn’t do it was terrifying, but she’d decided to make herself at least come in and explain. I listened to what she had to say because it was clearly important to her to get to say it.
Then, I told her I understood that phone banking can be scary. (I do it, but it’s definitely not my favorite thing.) I said it was helpful that she’d come in to tell us she couldn’t phone bank because that would save us trying to call her to see if she’d reschedule. Finally, I said that if she was interested, there was a group of three or four women in the back room who were doing data entry. No phone calls, just take the paper forms and put the information into the computer. She visibly relaxed and said she could do that. A few minutes later, she was seated at a computer with a cup of coffee and a stack of forms. She worked the hours she would have phone banked, waved a friendly good-by, and left.
I kept remembering that incident when I was thinking about this blog post. I don’t know if that woman ever did any more political volunteer work, but I like to think that she did. I like to think that after forcing herself to do that one scary thing — walking in to say she couldn’t do the phone banking — and experiencing her own courage, she went on to do some more. Maybe not phone banking, but phone banking’s not the only way to get Democrats elected.
And I tell this story because I am going to need you to screw your courage to the sticking point, figure out where your talents lie, and get to work THIS WEEK on electing Democrats this November. Local Democrats, Congressional Democrats, Senate Democrats. If you watched the January 6th Hearings (and as Mrs. Whatsit said, you should), you know how desperately important it is to elect Democrats this Fall. If we don’t want Proud Boys in Congress, if we don’t want Oath Keepers on our School Boards, if we don’t want Nazis on our Boards of Election, we all need to get to work now.
There are lots of ways to get involved. Pick a campaign you care about, go to the website, and click on the “Volunteer” button. (And don’t give up if you don’t hear back right away. Try a different campaign.) See when your local Democratic Committee has its next meeting and go. Get certified to register voters (in Virginia, you watch a YouTube and sign a statement) and set up your card table outside the farmers market, at the metro station, in front of your house. Make signs (Rachel Bitecofer has some good suggestions) and staple them to phone poles. Help rural Democrats get elected. Go to Postcards to Voters and start writing. Run for office yourself.
Everyone can do something. I’d love to hear in comments what you’ll do this week.