Every election feels like the most important election of our lives. Or, at least they did before we experienced a truly consequential one.
Back the summer of 2018, I warned that the ’22 midterm was likely to be the fulcrum, the election that determined whether our march away from white nationalism would build into a juggernaut or fade. That assessment seems sound, though the prospects aren’t good. 2022 is probably our last, best shot to end white nationalism in our lifetimes.
If Democrats hold the House and take the Senate then the progressive revolt sparked by Trump’s election could begin transforming the country. If they fail, Republicans will be in a position to easily nullify a 2024 Election result that they dislike, launching our second Civil War.
Right now, prospects for Democratic victory in 2022 don’t look good, but that doesn’t change the stakes. What do we need to do now?
Make local connections
Even today, all politics is local. If I can’t name a member of my city council or the mayor, my political engagement is likely little more than cosplay. Winning in ’22 will hinge entirely on turnout. It will be tough to make any impact on turnout without first knowing what’s needed in your own neighborhood.
How do I make local connections?
Start by reaching out to your local Democratic Party organization. Look for opportunities to meet people and volunteer in whatever capacity fits your capabilities. Next, find the social media pages of all your local representatives and candidates, even the Republicans. Wherever possible, participate in neighborhood events (many are online) beyond politics. Know what issues matter to your neighbors. Know what events or volunteer opportunities are coming, political or not. Share them to amplify their reach and participate where you can. Forge relationships with other like-minded people who can act as amplifying nodes in a network. Those networks will be critical later in the season.
Check your voter registration
If you live in a place with Republican leadership, and that includes some Republican counties in red states, check your voter registration. Encourage others to do the same. Make sure everyone you know is registered to vote. Do what you can to help the unregistered navigate the process. If you live in one of the states being impacted by aggressive voter suppression laws, learn their byzantine new registration rules so you can inform others.
Volunteer for campaigns
The most valuable asset in any political campaign is its volunteers. For many campaigns as high as the state house or even Congress, having a few dozen volunteers ready to help with mundane tasks can be difference between winning and losing. Somebody has to answer the phone. Someone has to deliver yard signs, coordinate block walks, stuff envelopes, make calls, man a table at an event and even sweep the floor. There are opportunities available at almost every levels of engagement. If you’re not sure where you’re most needed, contact the local party.
Volunteer to be a poll worker or election judge
There are almost never enough people to staff polling places or serve as election judges. These can be extremely important roles in places where the right to vote is under attack. Serving in person during elections is very time consuming, but most of these positions are paid. Having responsible people serving as poll workers can make a huge difference in protecting the right to vote.
Vote with your money
When we think of money in politics we conjure images of the wealthy buying politicians. What we often miss is the vast power of millions of Americans influencing public attitudes with their purchase choices. Use purchase decisions and pressure to strip rightwing figures from profit, publicity and influence. Every transaction is a vote. Check here to find out if your local service providers like doctors, dry cleaners or contractors are Republican donors and if so, let them know you’ll be doing business elsewhere. Also, look for ways you can redirect spending toward minority owned businesses.
Text banking opportunities
Movement Labs offers ways to volunteer on key campaigns nationwide even if you can’t leave home. You can help with voter turnout, vaccination efforts and other campaigns to improve communities near you or nationwide. Also check out, Postcards to Voters.
We are weaker alone and more powerful together. Forge relationships with those near you. Know your neighbors. Be someone people can come to for help with questions about registration and voting. Do it now. This month. By early summer these networks need to be in place and ready to work in the fall. This was always going to be a very difficult election for Democrats, but that’s no excuse to quit.