August recess is nearing an end and Congress will soon be back in session. The House will continue its work passing legislation and pursuing its impeachment inquiry, and the Senate will be doing…well, probably nothing. So the question for many of us is how we should be spending our time. What is the most effective way to channel our collective energy?
The answer is simple: We do the work to win. We’ve got one priority: To get out the vote. At this point, we have a pretty good sense of what we are up against. We know the obstacles are voter suppression and gerrymandering that favors Republican candidates, disinformation to encourage disunity and divide the vote, and distraction campaigns to siphon energy away from tangible, impactful work. And yet, in spite of all this, there is one clear path to victory: Voting.
Here’s our to-do list:
Right now (September 2019 – February 2020)
It’s still early, but there are plenty of things we can do right now. Consider volunteering your time or donating to the following efforts:
- Volunteer to register voters. The League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote are just a couple of organizations that do this. National Voter Registration Day is September 24–Many organizations will be holding events to register voters on this day, making it extremely easy to find an opportunity to volunteer near you.
- Support organizations that help people get the appropriate voter IDs so that they can register to vote, such as Spread the Vote.
- Volunteer and/or support organizations that help people get to the polls. One organization is Carpool Vote. Or just organize carpools in your local community.
- Support get out the vote efforts for every off-cycle and special election between now and November 2020.
(This is not an exhaustive list. A quick Google search will point you to additional organizations in your area.)
Something to keep in mind: It’s still early. In many states, candidates still have time to declare they are running (In my state, for example, the deadline isn’t until December). So, while some of us are anxious to get a jump on things and start volunteering on campaigns and promoting candidates, consider waiting until the deadline has passed. Why? Because the best candidate for a given district may not have declared yet. Consider waiting to evaluate the entire field before deciding who merits your support.
In the meantime, focus on registering voters and helping voters get the necessary identification to register in their states. No matter who is running, getting out the vote will be critical.
Primary Season (February 2020 – June 2020)
- Check your voter registration regularly to ensure you are still registered to vote. Purging voter rolls is a known issue.
- Continue supporting voter registration efforts (like the ones we listed above) through primary season. In fact, do not ease up on this until you hit voter registration deadlines in your area.
- Volunteer on a campaign.
- Help drive voter turnout and get as many people as possible to the polls for primaries.
- Make a plan to vote.
Something to consider: When evaluating which candidate to support in the primaries, give careful consideration to the demographics of the district. Strategically speaking, the candidate most likely to win in the general election may not be the one most aligned with your personal ideology. For example, a moderate candidate likely has a better shot at flipping a historically red district to blue.
There is considerable strategic value in supporting the candidate with broad appeal: This is how we will flip state legislatures, it’s how we will hold the House, and it’s how we can flip the Senate. Remember, this is about more than just your preferred candidate winning an individual race; it’s also about the collective win…What we can accomplish when we gain the majority at both the state and federal level. Gaining majorities gives Dems the most important leadership positions and makes it easier to pass legislation (think gun control, healthcare, election security).
So, when thinking about who to vote for in the primary, be sure to think ahead to what a candidate’s chances will be of winning in the general election.
General election (June 2020 – November 2020)
From here on out, our job is simple:
- Drive voter turnout — There’s still time to register people to vote. State-by-state voter registration information is available here.
- Volunteer on a campaign.
- Encourage people to vote blue.
- Help out on election day. You can become a poll worker, be a poll watcher, drive people to the polls.
- Don’t forget to vote!
Tune Out the Noise (There Will Be A Lot)
More than anything, we will need to stay focused. There will be continuous efforts to distract us from the work that will really make a difference. Put simply, anything that draws our attention away from the task at hand is a distraction. There’s so much happening now, it’s almost impossible to avoid. When you find yourself spinning your wheels, or going in circles on an endless debate, refer back to this action plan. And then get to work.
It’s Time to Go All In
Our strength lies in our collective power. We’ve got 14 months to give this everything we’ve got– to ensure record-breaking turnout at the polls. We are defenders of democracy. It all comes down to getting out the vote. Every race. Every election. One vote at a time.