I wanted to address a common question I always get in person and online within this blog post. It is a question that every candidate gets often so hopefully this post will be helpful to a variety of different campaigns. It is a question equally heard within federal, state, and even local campaigns all over America:
“How can I best help with your campaign?”
That is a great question! Each campaign is different, but generally speaking these points are what every campaign needs to thrive. This list is generalized quite a bit, but my own campaign runs like this. If you want to help out, then consider these five things:
1.) Come to an event! Campaign events (or any political events really) might be new and intimidating to people who have recently decided to become politically involved in their communities. Keep in mind the people you will meet are similarly-minded to you – which is the whole point of assembling together – and you’ll find plenty of friendly faces.
Events are important. They lend support to members and strengthen the political communities we have at the local level. Whether the meetings are democratic central committee meetings, Indivisible groups, or other progressive organizations a strong and vibrant local scene is the best catalyst to change. There is a lot of truth in the often-quoted statement, “all politics are local.” National movements were once small local actions and built momentum over time.
Look at the events listed on my page. I speak often and if you are interested in my campaign or learning more about me as a person coming to an event is a good way to get started.
2.) Follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and participate online. The twenty-first century has many new tools for candidates and community organizers to use and most of them are free. In the old days communication cost money. If you wanted to get a message across, you had to buy radio time, make a TV commercial, figure out a way to make the news media interested in you, or spend significant amounts of money on direct mail.
Things are much cheaper now, but sometimes “cheap” can be complicated in ways not many people think about. Candidates can make Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and websites with ease and much cheaper compared to what traditional forms of communication would cost for worldwide reach. My website and my Facebook page can reach anyone on earth that has an internet connection.
Here’s the complicated part: traditional (expensive) communication will reach people of all political affiliations and demographics whereas new (cheap) communication is largely self-selected and therefore not as good as “communicating.” This is an unusual concept, but here is how it works with some examples:
- People from the far political right to the far political left watch television. The television will show commercials without involvement of the viewer. The viewer can change the channel, but the TV station (not the viewer) decides to show the commercial and the viewer much digest enough of the message to voluntarily change the channel.
- People from the far political right to the far political left drive cars and / or use public sidewalks. Billboards exist in public, and if they are placed correctly they will be seen by anyone in public. The viewer can ignore the message, but the message must be seen and then actively thought about for the viewer to choose to ignore it. In other words, the message was digested by the viewer regardless of their political affiliation or desire to consider the information.
- People from the far political right to the far political left receive postal mail. Much like billboards, a postcard direct mailer to a person who is not interested in the political message may wind up in the garbage. But – the person has to look at the postcard mailer and make a decision to trash it. The message and the name of the candidate is in his or her head even if the postcard mailer is in the garbage, provided the postcard is designed correctly. And the name might stick around for future reference: the die hard republican might take notice when he or she hears a democratic candidate mentioned on TV if the name is familiar.
Problematically, free communication is largely digested by a self-selected audience. That isn’t ideal for a candidate (like me) that is trying to reach outside of the democratic bubble. If somebody seems interested in my platform, they can search for my website on Google or look for me on Facebook. However, this does not create interest or name-recognition out of nothing.
This is where you come in and how you can help. “Like” my Facebook page and also “like” things I post. Share my material to your own personal page. Copy and paste links to my website on your page. Re-tweet things I post on Twitter. This helps in two ways: (a) it will allow my content to be seen by people – your Facebook friends and Twitter followers – who might not otherwise know who I am or what I stand for, and (b) multiple shares of URLs actually does good things with the algorithms that Facebook and search engines use to add exposure to content.
In other words, when you interact with my postings Facebook and Twitter then Google thinks other people might want to interact, too, so it is easier for people to see me who aren’t actually looking for it.
3.) If you are able, donate to my campaign. Asking for money is a hard thing for me to do, because I am a DIY-minded person who has always been self-sufficient in everything. Asking for help is anathema to me. But the cold hard truth is campaigns costs money – federal campaigns cost lots of money especially – and money buys things that volunteering and sharing Facebook posts do not. As I described above, winning involves a combination of name recognition and getting my message out to people who are not pre-disposed to voluntarily digest the message. Money buys that sort of thing. Money buys, promotional items, traditional communication, and gasoline for my car so I can get out in the community and talk to people face-to-face.
If you can’t afford to donate, don’t worry about it. If you can, even $5 or $10 can help. You can find out how to donate to my campaign via mail here or you can donate online via Act Blue. Act Blue is awesome. It is a not-for-profit that does credit card and debit card donation processing for progressive candidates and charitable organizations. Click the button below to donate online:
4.) Volunteer with my campaign. Volunteering is vital to any organization. A campaign is essentially a not-for-profit, and every not-for-profit needs boots on the ground to do things that can’t be paid for and can’t otherwise be done. Volunteering for a campaign can take many forms, from a part-time titled position (finance director, social media director, scheduling manager, etc.) to a one-time volunteer at a single event. Even just coming to an event and looking to help out the same day is useful! There is always a need for someone to hand out flyers, buttons, take down attendees’ information, and make sure things run smoothly.
Volunteers really are the backbone of any campaign. If you could like to volunteer, please check out my volunteer page here and drop me a line!
5.) MOST IMPORTANT – Be a good example of change. I always harp on this when I speak in public, but we need to stop talking to each other and get out and talk with people who do not self-identify as democrats. Talk to your neighbors and friends that are independents, or libertarians, or apolitical, or (gasp!) republicans. Listen to their concerns and worries about our country. And persuade them the democratic way of doing things is not scary, harmful, and may actually address their fears!
Hopefully this helps!
– Chris Minelli