I have a lot of friends who want to oust Donald Trump, but their level of political engagement starts and ends with voting. They want to do more, but don’t know where to start. These aren’t people who will do traditional Get Out The Vote efforts such as phone banking and canvassing. They aren’t going to stand outside of a polling place all day either, but still they want to help.
I was first drawn to David Plouffe’s book “A Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump” because I wanted to figure out how to get people like my friends to help my political candidates. I’m a political campaign manager. I think of myself as more of a coach than a manager. Essentially my job is to recruit and equip a team of professionals and volunteers to help my candidates win.
One thing that I’ve learned in the three short years that I’ve been running political campaigns is that many non-political people want to do more than read headlines and complain. They want to get involved but don’t know where to start. I know my friends and family see me doing this work, and they realize that although they aren’t ” into politics,” there are ways that they can contribute their talents.
For example, in 2017, I convinced my parents to fly here to phone bank and work the polls for one of my candidates (this year, they’re phone banking for Biden). My aunt and uncle drove up from Columbia, South Carolina to do the same. As did another friend in Durham. In the 2018 general election, people that I didn’t personally know reached out to me via Facebook asking how they could help my candidates. On Election Day, and many of them had just gotten off work or took off work, and wanted to do something. They didn’t care that my candidate at the time wasn’t in their district. They just wanted to help. My girlfriend is now one of my most reliable volunteers. She sports magnets on her car and keeps literature on hand to give to ride-share patrons when requested.
With those completely unscientific examples in mind, I began reading Plouffe’s book during the pandemic because I thought it would give me some practical strategies that I could use for my November races. I figured if Plouffe’s tips were good enough to beat Trump then they were good enough to help me win my local races.
I’ve finished Plouffe’s book, and I began Gene Nichol’s “Indecent Assembly: The North Carolina Legislature’s Blueprint for the War on Democracy and Equality.” Two of my candidates this year are state legislators. I’ve lived through the last 10 years of this Republican regime, so I know bits and pieces of what has happened. I’m reading Nichol’s book to gain a better understanding of just what happened in the last 10 years that got us here. Nichol explains it in a way that’s accessible for people who aren’t interested in politics. Both books are full of sticky notes highlighting passages that I want to use to motivate and educate my team for the Nov. 3rd election.
When Vice President Joe Biden selected Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate, I pledged to do everything possible to support the ticket. One of my takeaways from Plouffe’s book is that part of supporting the ticket means countering the misinformation that will be used to attack her specifically. I started thinking about how I could empower more of my friends to be agents for change in this election.
I started the Blue Chronicles to share what I’m learning in my pandemic readings with my friends and family. Frankly, I’ve been a little surprised by the reaction to the inaugural video. The positive reaction confirms my belief that people want to do more than vote. I initially planned to just post passages, but I recalled the Lincoln Project’s “Story Hour.” It’s videos featuring a guy reading from Mary Trump’s tell-all book about her uncle, Donald Trump. So, I decided to try using video instead of simply posting book excerpts from my pandemic reading list.
I’m going to be honest. I’m making this up as a go. I don’t have a schedule or an organized strategy, and I may never. I’m not planning to start a blog or a podcast. I have political races to win here in Charlotte. So, I don’t really have the time or mental energy to make this a glossy, cool production. I’m going to get the information out to you as much as I can, and hope that you can use it. It won’t be professional, but hopefully it will be something that you can use to #DumpTrump and #FlipNC.
Tonya Jameson is an occasional qnotes contributor, political campaign manager and former Charlotte Observer writer. Follow the Blue Chronicles on FB @tonya.jameson.