Dear We-Won-But-It’s-Not-Over Activist Leaders,
This week, volunteers in New England are being thoughtful about taking action in the Georgia runoff elections. Our discussions have been shaped by two recent articles in the press.
The first is a cautionary tale about the Maine Senate race. A Nov 17th New York Times article, The Democrats Went All Out Against Susan Collins. Rural Maine Grimaced, claimed that Democrats took advantage of Maine’s inexpensive media market to flood the airwaves with ads that cast Susan Collins through the lens of national politics. Meanwhile, the Gideon campaign may not have sufficiently focused on pocketbook issues that are important to struggling rural Mainers. Of the 23,000 Facebook ads Sara Gideon ran this cycle, zero included written copy with the words “jobs” or “economy,” according to a progressive consulting firm.
The second article, Please Think Twice Before Invading Georgia to Help with the Senate Runoffs, appeared in today’s Washington Post. It is an opinion piece by Madalin Sammons, a consultant for a New York-based political consulting firm. Ms. Sammons is not speaking on behalf of political organizations on the ground in Georgia, yet her advice has struck a chord with many volunteers here in New England who have invested their time and money in trying to end the Trump regime and ensure that the Biden administration has the political power it needs in order to restore our democracy.
Our job as leaders is to listen carefully to volunteers’ concerns, make sure that we understand these issues, and incorporate their feedback into our actions in support of people on the ground in Georgia.
As Swing Left Greater Boston continues to help organize volunteers from Blue states to take effective action to save our democracy, we are increasingly selective about the work we do.
Swing Left Greater Boston volunteers follow these guidelines:
- We enable volunteer hosts to volunteer directly for the Democratic Party at the county level. The vote-by-mail applications sent by remote volunteers are sent on behalf of the Democratic County Committees, not from some out-of-state nonprofit organization. We have been told by our partners on the ground that this is huge.
- We organize our own phone banks. In Georgia, Jeff Lobo has organized 16 public phone banks and five private phone banks. Our target group is urban Democratic voters. By hosting our own phone banks, we can be very sensitive to volunteer feedback. If our calls do not seem productive, we will change our strategy.
Yesterday, one of our partners in Dekalb County said:
It makes me happy that you are working with local organizations. There’s so much external pressure to vote coming from outside organizations. Others are sending applications but they are from orgs I’d never heard of. People asking on social media: I got this thing, is this legit? The fact that we can hit everyone that we want to hit is a huge relief. It’s been a small but mighty group of volunteers working on this, but to know we have backup is great.
There is a wonderful network of organizers here in New England. We do talk to each other (and perhaps we should talk more) about the work we’re doing. Let’s continue the dialogue.
You are welcome to email us, but we hope that you will consider joining the SLGB-2020 Slack workspace, where there are 14 Georgia channels and you can connect with other volunteers to share information and ideas. You can join the discussion here.
Lisa Greenberg and Susan Labandibar