It’s no secret what’s at stake on November 6th, nor is it any mystery what it will take for Dems to wake up to a “blue wave” the morning after the mid-term elections on November 7th. What’s at stake is nothing less than a legitimate and operative two-party system — a country in which one side doesn’t rule in nearly every branch and tier of government.
What will it take? Turnout.
The reality is that Republicans are more reliable voters, turning out consistently in election after election to get their candidates into office. Dems and Independents tend to show up in Presidential election years, and when they do, they regularly outnumber voters on the right. In the meantime, the midterms (with particularly disastrous results in 2010) have hamstrung the left’s ability to make real strides in local policy, state legislation and court appointments at all levels.
Demographic shifts in the U.S. don’t portend well for Republicans, and they’re well aware of that fact. We keep hearing that we’re in the throes of the “last gasp” of retrograde, white conservatism; but elections come down to votes counted, and despite championing causes that are unpopular with most Americans (tax gifts to the rich, subversion of the ACA, limiting abortion access, opposition of any gun control), Republicans still consistently win.
And this is the crux of our problem: we have a minority party and its fringe ideology clinging to their majority, while fully aware that they would lose power if elections were held freely and equitably.
So, as a result they:
limit specific people's access to vote based on geography, demographics, and personal history (aka voterID legislation, limiting polling locations in blue counties, barring ex-felons from voting)
purge voter rolls and sow confusion with voters
curtail immigration and new citizenship
lie and distort the truth on critical policy issues
question the authenticity of election results (even when they win)
sabotage government processes to discourage participation and promote electoral cynicism
So what can we do in response? It’s simple: get people out to vote. And the most effective way to raise awareness of 11/6, the candidates in the races, and the importance of getting to the polls is canvassing.
The good news is the door-to-door canvassing is not only incredibly effective, it’s also easy — and energizing. We were out this weekend in Long Island talking to D voters in Greenport, Long Island about Perry Gershon. He’s facing an uphill climb against Lee Zeldin, a consistent Trump backer and reliable conservative vote in the House.
We used Vote Save America’s handy “Get Involved” feature (powered by Mobilize America) to find the nearest local canvassing coordinator in the NY-1 district. After a couple quick instructions and downloading the MiniVAN app, we were on our way. MiniVAN (VAN = Voter Activation Network) is reporting off-the-charts usage this election season, which portends well for turnout. We actually ran into another family with iPhones in hand, canvassing the neighborhood and knocking on doors.
The app is remarkably easy to use. It guides you around a specified neighborhood, listing likely blue voters and their demographic info. The goal is not to convince anyone of anything (my son and I politely nodded when one resident cited the NRA’s opposition to Gershon as his voting criteria — and then noted his views in MiniVAN). The idea is simply to motivate and encourage Democrat voters, and provide the campaign office with incredibly valuable data about where support is soft or shifting. When you’ve completed your list, a quick synch sends your info back to the campaign office. Easy, peasy!
It also feels great. Talking to sympathetic strangers, charting an unfamiliar neighborhood, contributing to a larger mission of voter participation — it’s a lot more fulfilling than scanning your Twitter feed and staring at the NYTimes live polling results (don’t even get me started on that whole thing — “how can we make politics even more of a score-keeping sporting spectacle that’s devoid of actual issues?”).
There’s plenty of time until November 6th, and the next few weeks will be critical for raising awareness and getting people out to vote. Knock on doors and talk to people.