Introvert from MA asks:
I was talking with a friend and said that I feel guilty for being privileged, but after some discussion, I thought… maybe I really feel guilty for not living up to the responsibility that should come with my privilege. I should do more political activism. I have kind of accepted in my case phone calls just won’t happen– it gives me so much anxiety that I just avoid it. I also honestly feel like activism in MA has very little point. What can I do that will have an impact and doesn’t require me to get over my anxiety? Also, I am doing fine financially but I’m not rich– so I do have some extra money, but not enough to make a huge difference in terms of donations to people. Also, I should know this, but can you donate/volunteer to campaigns you’re not allowed to vote for?
So first, yes, if you are a US citizen you can donate to US campaigns outside your state at any level. If you’re not a US citizen you can’t. So if you have no time, you can donate to candidates outside your state. If you don’t want to research *who* to vote for, SWING LEFT (link not sponsored, we just like them) is an easy place to direct dollars to– they’ve done all sorts of research on which states are flippable and will direct money accordingly. I have done a lot of random $25 donations, basically any time something gets me riled up or I read a news story or someone I trust suggests a donation.
In terms of what else you can do to put that privilege to use in an impactful way: It sounds to me like you are a perfect candidate for either postcards or letters. I have done both of these.
Postcards are used in several ways. Currently, they have campaigns where they’re trying to get ahead of some massive voter purges in several states like Florida and Texas. One of the things they’re doing is contacting registered democrats who have moved within-state to update their voter registration (they will followup with a pre-filled form) so that when the purge of people who don’t live at their current address (even if they’re still in the same precinct!) comes, they won’t be caught in it. Other campaigns are reminding people to vote or asking them to vote for specific Democratic candidates.
Generally with Postcards to Voters (not sponsored, though we’ve given them money), you sign up to write some number of postcards– they recommend 5 when you’re starting out (I usually request 20 and then DH and I each do 10). Then you text “hi” to Abby the bot (they’ll give you its number) and it will ask you what campaign you want to write postcards for. Then they send you a link and an email to a page with instructions (including a script) and however many addresses you requested. You are expected to mail your postcards within three days (so only request as many as you will be able to do– you can request again if you want).
You provide the postcards and the postage. Currently the US postal service only has two options for postcard stamps– you can get
shell coral reef stamps (not sponsored) to put on your own postcards, or you can buy pre-stamped postcards (not sponsored) from the post office with pretty stamp designs (usually flowers or birds). For post-cards you have a ton of options. The cheapest options are to get 100 packs from Amazon that say VOTE on them. This set (amazon link) used to be the cheapest, and the designs are solid. There’s a blank strip on the front that I like because you can put reminders about early voting dates or a webpage for the candidate on that part. The one small problem is that you have to be careful with what kind of pen you use on that strip because it will smudge with some pens if you don’t let the ink dry first. This other set (amazon link) is currently the cheapest per-card, but I haven’t used it yet. People give it good reviews! Post cards for voters has a ton of more expensive (and higher quality) options that are just adorable, but I will warn you that you will end up writing more if you choose one of their who/what/when etc. options like this cute one with owls (amazon link). Options that limit what you can write on the picture side are likely to be less overwhelming, even if they’re not as cute. All of these postcard sets on amazon have pictures of people’s actual post-cards from postcards to voters, so you can see what they tend to look like when they’re complete. If you’d rather print your own postcards, they provide a number of great templates (not sponsored).
You do not put your full name (I sign with my first, but I’ve been at parties where people sign with a made-up first name, and sometimes DH doesn’t sign at all), and you don’t know the name of the person you’re sending to. They give you a list of suggestions for who to address it to, and I’ve settled on VIP Voter because it nicely balances a short salutation (good for my wrist) and not sounding stupid.
You can mail these by taking them to a mailbox, the post-office, or just leaving them in your mailbox for your regular mail carrier to pick up. I usually drop them off at the post-office on my way to work.
Another option is to send letters with vote forward. These tend to be general letters not for any specific candidate sent to registered democrats reminding people to vote. You will have people’s names and addresses. Generally you’re writing by hand Dear Ms/Mr/etc. LASTNAME and signing and possibly filling in some other bit of information by hand, but the rest of the stuff is printed out. Then you hand address the letters, using a PO Box return address that they give you.
You can request addresses at any time. You use your own paper and envelopes and stamps and can choose any stamps you want. The post office has put me on their philatelist mailing list. Now I want all the stamps. Currently they have SESAME STREET(!) (not sponsored)
Then you hold onto the letters until the time to send them… which is currently OCTOBER 27th for reminding people about the general election. Personally I’m going to focus on postcards until this summer, but I will definitely be doing letters closer to the time period. I may buy more stamps before then though.
If you’re ok with texting, Indivisible has a Texting team that you can join. I personally hate GETTING texts from political campaigns, so I was a bit leery about joining up, BUT they have a 4 prong texting program for the candidates they’re targeting. The first two texts sound AWFUL as an introvert– they’re “listening” and “persuading”. But my sister convinced me to sign up to do “let people know that early voting has started” and “GOTV”. We’ll see how those go… I’m a little intimidated about it. Also, all the texting is done from your computer, not your phone and they won’t have your own phone number. I’m not entirely sure how to get connected with this (it all seemed super secret when I was invited), but here’s their web form that I didn’t use.
Grumpy Nation: Are you doing any of the above? Do you have other suggestions for ways to get involved?