Activism in the time of COVID 19

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We all have two jobs now. The first is to do everything we can to “flatten the curve”, stay safe and reduce the spread of the virus. That means taking social distancing seriously, canceling all physical in person gatherings. Taking care of our neighbors.  Taking care of our families.

The second job is to move to virtual efforts to keep up organizing to remove Trump. There is no question that Trump’s ignorance, dishonesty and incompetence already will cause more people to die. In the midst of the virus, we need to stay connected and we need to keep working to make sure that we defeat Trump, take the Senate, and, win other vital Federal and State elections. To do that we need to move online and be virtual.

To win, we must:

  • Build the volunteer force that will defeat Trump.
  • Make sure that voters are still registering to vote.
  • Make sure voters know about early voting and how to get absentee ballots, which is now more important than ever

Campaigns still need to raise funds. If the situation stabilizes by fall, we need to have people ready to go. If it doesn’t, we need virtual methodologies in place, and a virtual army to deploy new the tactics at massive scale.

This election will be won or lost in swing states where the margins are likely to be close – often less than a percentage point. That is where volunteers can make a decisive difference when elections are decided by less than a percentage point. When we expand the electorate, we win. We cannot wait until the fall to get going.

Together for 2020 is a collaborative effort by many organizations across Massachusetts to mobilize as many volunteers as possible. We have an online toolbox that allows for us to stay connected, work together, raise funds for candidates and campaigns, recruit new volunteers and reach out to voters – all online / virtually. 

Together, we will work from the safety and comfort of our own homes to defeat Trump and his Republican enablers from the safety and comfort of our own homes. All you need is a phone or computer or tablet, We can provide you with whatever help and support you need to be a part of this vital effort, as we grow our ranks into the thousands across the Commonwealth in emergency virtual organizing.

Here are some basic guidelines for local groups, teams and individual volunteers.

Learn how to use virtual tools

It is important to master Slack, Zoom and the other virtual tools are crucial for our success. Together for 2020 now has resource guides and links for tutorials and best practices for each. These tools are game-changers once you know how to use them. You don’t need to be a techie, but you will have to invest a small amount of time with the tutorials so you know how to get the most out of them.

Create Virtual Houseparties

As more and more people are isolated at home, we need to sustain people’s spirits and bring in more people through virtual houseparties. Using Zoom (or Google Hangout or Facebook Live), you can bring people together for team-building sessions. Check in on how people are doing and if anyone needs support or assistance. Invite interesting speakers (a candidate, a campaign manager, a representative of Maine Dems or North Carolina Dems, or a professor or journalist) or share in advance and then discuss an interesting article. Let people interact and talk. Make plans to meet again and to recruit more people.

Hold Virtual One-on-Ones

For years, relational organizers have met one-on-one to build relationships, learn more about possible activists, understand what motivates people and what they might be willing to do. In this period, we need to do even more one-on-ones – but they need to be virtual. Using the phone or Zoom or Google Hangouts, local teams should plan a systematic outreach program of Virtual One-on-Ones.

Virtual Fundraising

The need to raise funds for candidates will not diminish. If anything, campaigns will need to raise more money for advertising and online campaigning. We can continue to have fundraising events – they need to be virtual. Again, using Zoom or Google Hangout, conduct a fundraising event much as you would in the real world:

  • Build a host committee.
  • RSVPs will be in the form of registration for the online event.
  • Have the candidate online.
  • Brief introduction.
  • Candidate speaks.
  • Then Q&A
  • Then someone needs to make the pitch and share the ActBlue link – it is possible also to have everyone see the Act Blue results and see how much money is being raised in real time.

A separate resource guide will be posted on the website shortly.

Virtual Phone and Text Banks

One of the best things about doing a texting bank, phone bank, or a postcard bank is the sense of community, the experience of being part of a group effort. People can make calls or send texts from home. . You’ll a process for signing people up, making sure that they are trained and then getting them the right information. While it is possible to do this one-on-one, we urge teams to do it together as much as possible. So start with a Zoom video conference where the team leader walks through all the relevant information, answers the volunteers’ questions and describes the purpose of the program to provide valuable motivation. Then break for a specified time period for everyone to do the activity. Make sure that everyone has the team leaders text number so they can text questions and get help during the activity. Then regroup on the Zoom call at the agreed upon time to debrief, share numbers, evaluate the experience and plan next steps.

Postcards

You can your friends to write postcards from home. To get started, prepare packets with 30 postcards and addresses, as well as instructions. Have people pick up from a central drive by location, fill them out, and then drop off them off a week later at the same drive by location.

What you’ll need

  • Computer or tablet (ideally with video camera and microphone) or smartphone
  • Internet access
  • Zoom webinar software or similar tools (Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Skype) – basic accounts are free!
  • Slack messaging software on your computer & cell phone. Ask to be invited to your local activist slack workspace and to Together for 2020’s Slack workspace. Learn Slack – here is a simple tutorial

Some Tips

  • Learn how to use Google Docs to access/contribute to collaborative documents.
  • Be active on Face Book and other social media platforms
  • If you need technical help – reach out – we have a team who are offering office hours to assist people to learn the skills they need.

Conclusion

We will all be feeling our way in a drastically changed world for some period of time. We don’t know if that time period will be weeks or months, and whether we can get back to physical campaigning by summer, end of summer, or at all. We need to be prepared for any eventuality. The pandemic has made even more clear than ever that America cannot afford any continuation of Trump and his regime. We must not stop our efforts. We need to continue to build the volunteer army working to get rid of Trump, take back the Senate, and win other vital Federal and State elections.  We must not let people get isolated and demoralized.

We will all be learning new ways of working, new ways of organizing. We can do this if we do it together, starting now.

The most important first phase of virtual organizing is recruitment – we want to build a volunteer force of 10,000 across Massachusetts. That gets done by each activist recruiting 3-4 more people in the coming weeks. With people home and with routines disrupted, more people will have more time to meet with you virtually and explore what they can do.

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