Getting involved in politics is kind of hard, and if we’re being honest it is certainly considerably harder than it should be.
Thankfully, Bernie Sanders and his massive grassroots campaign are trying to turn that on its head. A number of online communities and countless grassroots organizations all around the country are trying to reshape American politics and joining one of those groups is step one to getting Bernie in the White House. Still, many might find themselves agreeing with Bernie Sanders but struggling to find a way to bring that message to the real world, or live in an area without much of a grassroots presence. This is certainly a big hurdle to overcome, but thanks to the internet it is easier to become politically engaged than it ever has been in the past.
The internet has become the most important resource for political campaigns, but that isn’t because people can easily share campaign pictures or memes. Those efforts undoubtedly spread awareness and create new supporters, but clicktavism can only go so far. It is easy to bounce posts around the same progressively minded 18-30 year old bubble, but breaking out of that bubble takes work. Thankfully with just a little bit of elbow grease anyone interested in breaking out of that bubble can do so pretty easily.
Phone banking is probably one of the most important things anyone can do by themselves and the best part is you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Phone banking is the best way to contact potential voters in important states, whether that important state is New York because of their October 9th voter registration deadline, or Iowa because it’s the first caucus, or South Carolina because Bernie needs a boost in the south, voters from all of these states can be reached from your computer.Using the R/SandersforPresident online phone bank website anyone can easily sign up, so long as you have a microphone, an internet connection, and a willingness to help Bernie Sanders. This is one of the most effective ways you can contribute to the campaign from the comfort of your own home, combine phone banking with a liberal amount of sharing on social media and one person can reach tens of thousands of would be voters. However for Bernie Sanders to win it will require a strong ground game and that means getting outside and doing the dirty work.
The second most important thing you can do is door to door canvassing or flyering. This helps spread the word locally and may even get more people involved, it allows you to make an impact in your community and hopefully connect with other local supporters. Find a map of your local area and keep track of which neighborhoods you have already canvassed. Maps of the area can usually be found at your local visitors center, chamber of commerce, or city hall. As for flyering just find a location with heavy foot traffic and spend a couple hours handing out flyers. Most people will just grab a flyer and keep walking, but some will stop to talk and give you a chance to make a connection. Even those who walk away may register to vote or give voting for Bernie Sanders more consideration than they ever would have otherwise. Another option is to join your local Bernie Sanders grassroots organization or your local Democratic party organization. This has obvious benefits and helps cover more ground and tackle bigger projects. It also helps have a solid group of volunteers who you can relate to and decompress with, because campaign work is pretty stressful stuff.
Campaign work isn’t glorious, in fact it can be some of the most thankless work there is. Phone banking is really just glorified telemarketing, but it is still incredibly important. The same can be said for door to door canvassing, which is really the same as any door to door salesmanship gig. One really good way to overcome the inherent awkwardness that comes with political salesmanship is taking the register to vote approach. For phone banking and canvassing it may be helpful to use a script, but at a certain point it will become obvious whether you have a potential supporter in your midst or not. Regardless, a good way to continue the dialogue and solidify someones support or potentially sway them, is to help them register to vote. Bringing a stack of voter registration forms with you, or a laptop so you can help people get their own, is a great way to continue the dialogue and increase the chances that someone will actually register and make it to the polls come election day.
Finally one of the most important and easiest things you can do on your own is register people to vote. Setting up a table in most public locations with a stack of voter registration forms or a laptop is easy to do and usually perfectly within the confines of most local or city laws and university regulations. One of the biggest benefits of registering people to vote is the potential to attract voters from all across the political spectrum. Regardless of how liberal or conservative one might be, they still have to register to vote and a lot of the time people don’t vote because they simply forget and miss the deadline. Tabling and helping people register to vote is a good way to help reverse that trend.
Not to say that there will be huge lines of people who had been waiting to register to vote and just needed your table to get it done. The success rate will be about the same as everything else. You’ll see hundreds of people pass you by, but the ones who stop give you a valuable opportunity to talk about Bernie Sanders and his policies. Having the volition to approach a stranger and register to vote is a good sign of political engagement which is also a good sign they might be a potential Bernie Sanders supporter. Now everyone who comes to your table will have different views and it’s important to make a point not to argue or debate people with different views. Shoving Bernie’s policies down someones throat or telling them why their facts are wrong will never work, even if you’re right, it simply won’t work. Just plant the seed, hand out a flyer, try and get them involved locally, give some statistics, link them to Bernie’s website and other appropriate online source, but stop there unless asked to dive deeper. Let them make up their own minds, if there is an opening take it, but it is incredibly important not to proselytize or force Bernie Sanders on anyone.
Finally one last way to raise awareness that is often overlooked, especially by younger voters, is letters to the editor of your local paper. Even some of the smallest weekly publications in the country have thousands of readers and most of them also allow open submissions. Just typing up a few paragraphs on why you support Bernie Sanders and why he is good for your community and region could change a lot of peoples opinions. Like talking to people while tabling, letters to the editor are a great way to plant a seed and get people thinking. It’s not invasive and it allows people to respond and create a public dialogue about Bernie Sanders and the 2016 election.
A lot of this might seem pretty obvious or common sense, but for people new to the political realm or unsure how to help outside of the internet, this is what needs done. In cities and towns all around the country the campaign groundwork needs done. Whether it’s making phone calls from your computer or canvassing the streets with your local grassroots group, only a dedicated group of volunteers will put Bernie Sanders in the White House. So take a couple hours (or ten, or twenty, or as many as you can spare) and get out there. Hang flyers up around town, hand them out to your friends, register people to vote, and make some phone calls. It’s not glamorous, but it’s the only way to get Bernie Sanders in the White House.