Rolling Out the Big Blue Wave

Waves transmit energy, not water, and are commonly caused by the wind as it blows across the ocean, lakes, and rivers. Waves caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun are called tides. The ebb and flow of waves and tides are the life force of our world ocean. – from NOAA Ocean Service

For the past year, the Blue Wave has been gathering momentum. We’re counting on you to restore an American future shaped by our values in November. This rising tide has already had significant impact: millions turned out for Marches; untold numbers of communications sent from every possible channel to elected and appointed officials, increased attention paid to what our government is doing. Planning, strategizing and resisting.

Certainly, we are a community of voters.

We know what’s at stake. For the past year and a half, we have been shocked, angry, heartbroken, exhausted, encouraged, elated, energized and a thousand other emotions. We have come together and fallen apart as we watched what seem to be the worst representatives of our nation run roughshod over Constitutional rights, the rule of law, progress made during Obama’s administration and basic human decency.

Guess what? Not everyone feels this way. Not everyone cares to the extent we do. Not everyone believes that their vote will make one iota of difference.

And so, they won’t make the trip to the polls. Or they won’t take the time to learn about the candidates, the issues or positions. And so when they pull the lever or press the screen next to the name that kinda-sorta sounds familiar it’s pretty much a crap shoot.

We can’t leave this next election up to chance. The Blue Wave needs all hands on deck to Get Out the Vote. (Insert picture of Uncle Sam pointing outward here). This. Means. You.

There’s plenty of research that shows what makes people more likely to vote. Education, peer pressure, personal identity, healthy competition are all factors that can increase voter turnout. But the most effective means by far is the personal touch of face-to-face conversations and one-to-one discussions.

For some, however, the thought of having a face-to-face discussion about the political system with a person outside of your known community makes the idea of a root canal seem a holiday. What level of motivation gets us past the propensity to leave the ‘hard stuff’ to someone else and hope for the best?

Olga Vannucci, who keeps us abreast of events and opportunities via Facebook and is on the ILNH’s leadership committee, was a first-timer in 2017. She describes herself as the ‘shyest human being in the world,’ yet was motivated to do what she could to stop the corruption and incompetence and get back to a government that wants to do good things for the country and its people.

She ultimately canvassed seven times. She initially partnered with another ILNH member and experienced canvasser, Liz Glynn, which increased her comfort level.

“What I learned is that we only visit like-minded people,” said Olga. “It’s truly GOTV, not persuading people to flip parties. A big part of the job is letting people know there’s an election, when it is and who’s running. No one was ever nasty.”

For Susan Devore, motivation came as a promise to her 10-year old granddaughter who was frightened by Trump’s bullying and meanness. She promised that if he won she would protest and resist until he was out of office. Regardless, Susan was still very nervous and had many of the same concerns as Olga, including the fact that she didn’t like strangers knocking on her own door. Her first time out was a ‘tag-along’ with Liz, with a list of mostly Democratic-leaning voter names and addresses. It was purely informational: many on the list had never heard of the candidates running for the NJ Assembly, or that the office was on the ballot.

Susan offers this advice:
  • Don’t go it alone – ask for a partner with some experience the first few times.
  • Meet the candidates or listen to them speak – even if it’s online because it gives you your own personal feeling about the candidate that’s valuable when you meet other voters.
  • Get your education and confidence up by volunteering at a registration table.
  • Smile, be polite and respectful. Remember you are sharing information, not telling people what to do.
“I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I did it and even enjoyed it a little,” said Susan. “Try it. You will surprise yourself.”

There’s a saying that the risks of staying inside your comfort level all your life far outweigh the risk of stepping outside of it. Here, the risk is maintaining the nightmare of politics we’ve experienced since the 2016 election – and in many ways, returning to the bad old days of discrimination and living in a society that leads with fear and hate far outweighs the risk of making phone calls and knocking on doors to get out the vote.

Call to Action: Volunteers are needed for the Stockton and Lambertville voter registration tables. Email MJ Legere to sign up for dates.

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