A Letter to American Voters
The 2014 midterm Congressional elections will be the most critical of this century. The outcome will determine the direction of the country – moderate left or extreme right, that’s the choice.
It shouldn’t be. But since the Tea Party insinuated themselves into the Republican Party, the GOP has been dragged further and further to the right, so much so that most of them would need a telescope to see moderate right, centrist or bipartisan positions which have become hopelessly isolated on their political map.
The Tea Party’s political provenance and motivations are discussed at length by everyone ranging from political scientists, historians and pundits to voters caught up in the maelstrom that is the Tea Party’s surge to political and media prominence.
It may be summarised as follows: Tea Party proponents see the USA as the wealthiest and most powerful country on the planet and it is their objective to ensure that this perception is strengthened at every turn.
As with all such summaries, it’s superficial – there are much deeper and more complex reasons motivating them. However, for all its superficiality, it’s accurate enough – wealth and power are at the top of their agenda. What’s more, they are supported and funded by the corporate wealthy and powerful – to the tune of multi-billions of dollars.
Consider for a moment this as a possible future: a Tea Party majority in both chambers of Congress.
Worse-case scenario: legislation passed to repeal social security, Medicare, Medicaid and all affordable health care; environmental legislation relaxed to the point of impotency; a major boost in Defense spending; no tax for the top 4-5% of income earners and increased taxes on the lowest 60%, just to name a few.
Best-case scenario: you’re just imaging this for the moment; it isn’t reality in the present day.
Ok, now you’ve had time to consider this, what will you do to prevent it ever happening? I’ve been considering this over the past four weeks or so and come up with the following: brainstorm, get creative and get active!
First, of course, is to commit to turning up at the polling booth and voting. That’s one vote. Now, because there has to be as many votes as possible, how do we accrue more? There’s a trend in American politics for voters of the party of the current President not to bother too much with midterm voting. It’s a trend that has to be bucked in 2014.
“Boots on the ground” is a phrase I’ve seen often but it needs to be teased out into specifics. There has to be an action plan – actually, there has to be multiple action plans – and it shouldn’t be left entirely in the hands of the same few campaigners. Groundswell is all very well but a tidal wave is better.
1. Get a working action group together. Talk to friends and colleagues. Is there a college nearby with a Young Democrats group? Are there volunteer groups (who readily understand the plight of the impoverished), community groups, knitting circles, book clubs? Don’t limit your thinking and don’t stop until you have your group.
2. Survey your area. I suggest something like this:
The next part of the survey will require your group members to be deputized to register voters and have registration forms on hand.
Part C is all about how to get prospective voters to the polling booth:
How group members handle the fourth question will depend very much on state law governing early voting and postal votes. Some allow for ‘no excuse’ voting on one or both of these, some don’t.
The last part of the survey is aimed at giving them a reason to vote Democrat.
3. Recruit others along the way if there’s an opening to do so.
4. Get your group together to brainstorm solutions for those prospective voters who may have difficulty getting to the polling booth on the day. For example; organize volunteer babysitters, bus/car transport with book-in sheets etc (organizing a bus with signs on either side that read “Voting for a fairer America” would be a nice touch!).
5. Stay in contact with prospective voters in a hands-on way, particularly those who need assistance of some kind. Get them registered for affordable health care, get on the babysitting bandwagon in advance, help out with other tasks like shopping etc. Don’t lecture, teach or argue but do engage them some casual political discussion.
6. If possible, locate a film crew – amateur, volunteer, whatever. Invite them to film your group’s activities, especially those in which they are helping prospective voters. Offer these short documentaries to local, state and national media. It’s another very effective way of campaigning when you’re showing a positive image of the Democrat party working at a local level.
7. Stay in touch with your local Democrat campaign office so they can help you help others.
8. Stay within the law no matter what!
9. Be kind, be generous, be the most positive and compassionate face of the party that you can be.
10. Enjoy the experience! It’s a great thing you’ll be doing but don’t let it be too serious – let a lot of laughter in!
So there it is: my outline for an action plan. Should you want to use any part of this, please go right ahead!
As I said at the beginning: these are the most critical midterm elections of this century so mark the occasion with a record high turn-out of Democrat voters!