I’ve been absent from the blog for a hot minute, and although the majority of my absence is due to junior year absolutely MURDERING my free time, it also is due to my avid volunteering on the Pete Buttigieg 2020 presidential campaign. I’ve chatted about my experience doing so on Instagram stories and with a few of you through DMs, but I thought it would be fun to reflect on my experience for the blog!
So far, I’ve volunteered over 70 hours on the campaign, not including organizational meetings and other events. For the past two months, I’ve canvassed for two to nine hours each weekend and every single second has been rewarding. Whether or not I wake up on Saturday or Sunday mornings in a mood to go talk to strangers about Pete, I end my time doing so feeling more fulfilled than ever.
Since yesterday was the Democratic Primary in my state, my time working for the Pete campaign is (sadly) up until he gets the Democratic nomination or runs again. Keep reading for my full experience on the campaign and how you can get involved with political campaigns in the future!
HOW AND WHY I GOT INVOLVED
I had been planning to volunteer/work on a presidential campaign since last summer when people began announcing they were running. At first, Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker were my favorites, but I still wasn’t convinced enough to sign up and volunteer. Plus, they soon both dropped out anyways. From there, I was lost as I had been hoping for a young candidate to take the forefront. As a teenager with my future in mind and the future of the country in mind, the 70+ year-old crowd of democratic front runners wasn’t cutting it for me.
However, it wasn’t until a campaign organizer working for Pete Buttigieg 2020 came to speak to the Young Dems club at my school that I began to feel like I truly did connect with not only a candidate’s values, but the candidate as a person. As a young liberal with policies that I believe can actually move the country forward without dividing it further, Pete was exactly the right fit for my extensive list of needs in a candidate. So when she mentioned a mentor ship program that she was running for high schoolers interested in learning about what it’s like to work on a campaign, I signed up right away.
WHAT I DID AS A VOLUNTEER
The most important things volunteers do on political campaigns is canvassing through either door knocking or phone banking. They’re both pretty self-explanatory, but door knocking is where you get a targeted list of houses and go talk with them about Pete and hand out campaign literature to them and phone banking is the same thing over the phone. I did both, but enjoyed door knocking better as I like being able to interact with people face-to-face. It builds a deeper connection and gives them an opportunity to truly interact with someone supporting a candidate from their political party. This can be more convincing and makes all the difference when that person goes to choose who they will be supporting in their primary or caucus.
I’ve knocked over 800 doors with the majority of people I talked to being undecided about their candidate choice. I talk with them about Pete’s background and why I’m siding with Pete. Also, I talk with them about their values in a candidate, so that I’m able to tailor my conversation to them, giving them Pete’s perspective and policy plans on issues they care about. Since presidential candidates can’t visit every member of their party personally, volunteers are crucial to getting the word out and helping people understand why they should support their candidate.
Some of my favorite experiences while door knocking were with the people who simply thanked me for taking time to talk to them. In today’s world of politics, it can be difficult to feel that a campaign is genuine and not just a show for money and power. Showing support for a campaign by having real conversations with others is one of the most powerful ways to have someone understand your point of view and see the genuineness in what you are doing. Every time I canvassed, I was representing the Pete Buttigieg campaign, which I made sure to keep in mind as I had hosted real and genuine conversations with democratic voters.
WHAT I LEARNED
1. Change can happen at any scale! Before working on the Pete for America campaign, my view of change was that it always had to be world-shaking. I thought that if thousands of people weren’t affected by what you were saying or doing, then you weren’t really making a difference at all. This is UNTRUE. Chatting with people one-on-one about a cause I care for showed me that change doesn’t have to be a mass occurrence. It can be as simple as interacting with others so that you both leave with different perspectives and a more open-mind than you began with.
2. The majority of people know how to respectfully share their opinions. For the most part, everyone I canvassed was on the same side of the political aisle as me, but even then differing opinions can come to head. However, I have yet to have experienced anyone be hostile solely because the way we view the world is different. Some of the most enlightening conversations I had were with those with unique opinions from my own. Although listening to the back stories and reasoning didn’t always change my opinion, I always came away with respect for that person.
3. Going outside of your comfort zone is really nerve-wracking, but oddly fulfilling. I’m an extrovert, so talking to strangers wasn’t the most outside-of-the-box thing about my volunteer experience, but it was still super nerve-wracking. You can never truly know what to expect when you knock on someone’s front door (I was always cautious and campaigns have certain safety protocols in place, so I was never in danger) and you can never know what a person might say to you once that door is open. However, pushing myself through the discomfort I sometimes felt before door knocking made me feel prouder of myself when it was all said and done.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED YOURSELF!
Do you want to get involved as a volunteer on a political campaign? Here are some ways to get involved:
-Go to the official website of the candidate/politician to look for volunteer opportunities.
-Visit the local field office of the politician to learn more about getting involved.
-Email an organizer on the campaign.
-Go to an event being hosted by the candidate or someone associated with the candidate and there will be somewhere to sign as an interested volunteer.
I live in South Carolina, and like I said earlier our Democratic Primary election was yesterday. This means the campaign organizers in my area will be headed to a new state, so my job as a Pete for America volunteer is over for now. Regardless of the outcome, I wouldn’t trade this unique experience for the world as it’s helped me gain insight into not only the world of politics, but into the values of the communities around me. I’ve never felt more connected to the community I live in or felt more proud to be a part of the community I live in.
So here’s to the 2020 election and positive change in our communities, nation, and government 😉