The bad news is that the blue wave won’t build itself. The good news is that I can report first hand that Texans across the state are doing the work to build it.
Indivisible called for a weekend of action to mark #100DaysOut from the November elections, and Indivisibles heeded the call by registering and hosting over 150 canvasses and phone banks for progressive candidates in the brightest blue states to the deepest red. Volunteers were out all weekend, doing real, on-the-ground voter outreach, building the blue wave, drop by drop.
Well Leah and I couldn’t let them have all the fun. We headed down to my home state of Texas and spent a few days canvassing and phone banking for the guy who’s going to defeat Ted Cruz in November – Indivisible-endorsed future Senator Beto O’Rourke . On the road we met up with two more Indivisible-endorsed candidates for congress – Julie Oliver (TX-25), and Mike Siegel (TX-10). Both are fighting to turn red districts blue this cycle – and both are putting in the work to make it happen.
I had three main takeaways from the trip out to Texas. The grassroots momentum that we saw this weekend was staggering. Volunteers in Austin saw our tweets about the phone bank and dropped everything to show up to make calls for Beto. There are people all over Texas (and the country) who want to #DoTheWork to elect a more progressive congress this November. And we were proud to be there — on the ground — in our movement’s first-ever electoral weekend of action.
First: the energy. Even 100 days out, the energy out there is palpable. Study after study, and campaign after campaign proves that nothing is more impactful that voters talking to voters. And that’s what we saw in Texas. A hundred days out from the election – from red counties to blue counties – we saw Texans talking to Texans.
We started our swing on a Friday in Beaumont, where we met with our group leader, Shelby Smith, who leads Golden Triangle Indivisible and their activism in TX-14 and 36. Volunteers (including us) spent the night calling voters across the state to help elect Beto. Yes, that’s right – in Beaumont Texas a group of Indivisibles were spending their Friday night to elect the first statewide Democrat in over two decades. This isn’t normal, but Trump isn’t normal either.
Second: the new volunteers. Normally when you’re canvassing or phonebanking at this point in the cycle, the script is the same. You’re targeting are sporadic Democratic voters. You’re IDing them so that you can follow up later to get them out to vote. You ask them if they want to volunteer, but nobody ever wants to volunteer this early.
That’s not what we saw in Texas.
In Wimberley Texas where we met up with Wimberley Indivisible and the nationally Indivisible-endorsed candidate Julie Oliver, we had so many volunteers come out on a Saturday morning that we ran out of doors to knock on. Literally – we had no more doors in our target universe to knock. 100 days out.
The next day at an Austin phonebank with Indivisible Austin and another Indivisible-endorsed candidate Mike Siegel, dozens of volunteers packed the room (check out this video clip). We asked who in the room had never phonebanked before – most the hands in the room shot up. I tweeted out that I was at an Indivisible phonebank, and a local Austinite saw it and just showed up to join the phonebank. In San Antonio, a woman who stumbled on our canvass training joined up to volunteer with SATX Indivisible on the spot.
Throughout our time in Texas, I talked to multiple people at the doors and on the phones who weren’t satisfied just voting for Beto and other Democrats in November. They’d never done any campaign work before, but they wanted to know what they could do NOW. They didn’t want to wait for the wave – they wanted to build it.
Third: the tacos. We kicked off one day with breakfast tacos and a canvass training with SATX Indivisible in San Antonio. Why don’t we have breakfast tacos like this in D.C.?
The grassroots momentum that we saw this weekend was staggering. People all over Texas (and the country) who have never done this type of thing before, are now throwing themselves into building the blue wave.
So if you’ve never done any campaign volunteering before – don’t worry. You’re in good company. The only way we’ll get a different result than 2016, is if new folks are part of the process. And hey, even if you don’t get breakfast tacos out of the experience, you’ll make a few friends while doing your part to save American democracy. Not a bad way to spend a few hours.
So be part of this. Join up with your local Indivisible group. We’ll be out canvassing and phone banking all around the country from now until election day. Find a event near you so you can too.