Election 2020 is the most important election of our lives. It is also the most unusual, because of COVID, because of Trump’s dirty tricks, and because underneath the titanic struggle between Trump and Biden is a creaky, deaf party system that many voters loathe.
The “nationalization” of political campaigns under the direction of an army of political consultants and ad directors has reached the limits of its efficacy. Citizens are tired of slick ad blitzes, tech-only wizardry, and political negativity. They are tired of being reduced to a statistic, tired of being bombarded with impersonal appeals.
In the interstices of all this, something truly extraordinary is happening. Americans are organizing themselves in more authentic and locally appropriate ways. They are mobilizing their friends and families, reaching out through personal networks, developing bloc-specific agendas, hoping to multiply the influence of their constituencies at the polls.
The ideological agenda of the new mobilizers may be a bit vague. They don’t operate at the pleasure of a political party. Their overarching mission is to preach the power of civic engagement to groups underrepresented in the polity. The Minnesota Youth Collective, for instance, asks prospective members to take a pledge to be civically engaged: “Young Minnesotans are the largest voting bloc in the state, and we’re ready to use that power to get things done for our communities. By filling out this quick form, you’re making a commitment to join this fight with us, whatever that means to you.”
Similar groups are springing up all over the country, sometimes banding together to increase their visibility:
Alliance for Youth Action (national consortium)
BLOC: Black Leaders Organizing For Communities (WI)
Engage Miami (FL)
LIT: Leaders Igniting Transformation (WI)
Voces De La Frontera (national)
Voting While Black (national)
These groups could have an unexpectedly large effect on the presidential election, precisely because they are mobilizing communities that the national party system has cynically neglected for years. They lie outside the aegis of the Biden campaign and may be reaching voters whom political polls miss.
“Democrats Are Ignoring the Voters who Could Decide This Election.” (NYT)
“Democrats Belatedly Launch Operation to Share Information on Voters.” (NYT)
“How to Mobilize Rural Progressives.” (Washington Monthly)
“The Trump Campaign Knows Why Obama Won. Do Democrats?” (NYT)
“There Is a Better Way for Democrats to Win in Wisconsin” (NYT)
“Why Mobilizing Black Voters in Michigan Is Key To the Election” (Christian Science Monitor)
Image: “Electioneering in Georgia,”
from this source.