It’s a question common to those who reside in solid blue regions in this fraught election year: Beyond voting for Joe Biden in my home state, what can I do to help oust President Trump?
David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, has written a book — “A Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump” — full of ideas. Although the coronavirus pandemic has rendered some of those ideas impractical, there are still ways to play a role from afar in distant swing states. At a time when our polarized politics have many avoiding any mention of politics in uncertain settings, Plouffe urges people to use their social media accounts to reach out with information and pro-Biden narratives.
“This campaign is being fought on our phones and our tablets,” he said in an interview. So engage. If, say, you have a Biden debate moment you found powerful, share it. If you see an anti-Biden or pro-Trump post based on false assertions, respond to it.
“Be respectful about it, but firm,” Plouffe advises. “You want to take a breath. Rather than saying, ‘I can’t believe you’re buying this lie,’ say, ‘Uncle Jared, I appreciate that you are supporting Trump, but here are the facts.’ Or, ‘You might be surprised to know this.’ ” If you can share a pro-Biden or anti-Trump comment from a conservative, all the better, he notes.
Looking for less potentially confrontational ways to join the effort?
Bay State politico and retired public-relations guru Michal Regunberg spends several hours a week sending notes to Florida Democrats who have an indifferent record of voting, urging them to do so this November. Her efforts include an addressed postcard, with a stamp, that they can send in to request a vote-by-mail ballot.
“This is the most important election of our lifetimes, and I want to do what I can,” said Regunberg, who also does phone-banking. “I don’t want to be one of those people who says later, maybe I could have done X, Y, or Z.”
Her endeavors are part of an all-volunteer effort organized by Swing Left Greater Boston, which is concentrating on Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maine, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Swing Left Greater Boston coordinates volunteers throughout New England; one can sign up to participate on its website.
“We are about making sure that everyone who wants to vote against Trump has an opportunity to,” said group coordinator Susan Labandibar. As part of those efforts to get sporadic voters to cast a ballot by mail, volunteers have sent out close to 1 million vote-by-mail applications, most with stamps.
A follow-up component: phone calls to ask people if they have sent in those vote-by-mail ballot applications. If not, the group’s volunteers have information on how and where to vote in person. As part of its voter-protection efforts, Swing Left Greater Boston is also recruiting poll workers and observers in those states. Later on in the process, they’ll alert voters whose mail-in ballots have been disqualified for one reason or another — and let them know how they can rectify those problems so their vote will be tallied.
Another organization engaged in letter-writing is Vote Forward, which has now completed some 10 million missives — and hopes to do 5 million more — urging people to vote. Those letters will be sent out on Oct. 17. By visiting the organization’s website and answering a few basic questions, a volunteer can receive a list of people to whom to send a please-vote note, which is part printed and part handwritten.
The core social mission of the nonprofit is increasing overall voter turnout, rather than persuading voters to back a particular candidate or party. That said, nonprofits like Vote Forward can also do some political work, and the “political campaigns” section of its website offers an opportunity to write to encourage Democratic-leaning but unlikely voters in battleground states.
“On the political side, we are targeting people that we think are very likely to vote for a Democrat if they vote at all,” said founder Scott Forman.
If you have other ideas, please share them with me via e-mail — or post them in comments under this column.
Meanwhile, we have one month left. Don’t waste it. Get involved.