Get on the map!
Lead your community! Lead your Democracy!
During my congressional campaign, I spent many days knocking on doors in underserved areas of Harrisburg, Steelton, and York. In the modern way of campaigning, I had a map with me that showed me exactly where I could find my target audience. New software tools allow us to pick our targets, to choose whom we will talk to and whom we will listen to. We can choose “super voters,” those who vote each year in the primary and general elections. We can choose members of our party or another. We can select independents. We can pick voters who have not voted in several years, voters who might be convinced to return to the ballot box. We cannot talk to everyone, so we make choices, leaving others out.
In practice, the best approach is to spend time convincing people who reliably make their way to the voting booth to choose you over the other options. In our case, we spent time visiting Democratic voters who have been voting in non-presidential year primary elections, trying to show that I was the best of the four Democratic options. There are endless variations on strategies, and this is not the only one we employed.
Still, the maps determine who goes where in search of votes. The maps determine who is ignored.
When I encountered people on sidewalks in these neighborhoods, I spent time with those willing to talk with me, pointing out the basic strategies and the importance of getting on the candidates’ maps. I showed them the map I was carrying that day with the red dots indicating my targets. If you are not on anyone’s maps, I explained, no candidate will come talk to you, no candidate will come listen to you, and no office-holder will pay attention to you. Voters often lament that politicians do not listen to them. But the group that receives the absolute least attention is non-voters.
There is no shortcut to getting on the map. But, it is not hard either. Simply register to vote and start voting. The likelihood that a candidate will come down your street is directly related to the number of voters he or she can find there. So, it pays to ensure your neighbors are registered and that they cast votes at every opportunity. This strengthens our Democracy and strengthens your community. And, as I have been arguing throughout my campaign, strong communities create a strong nation.
I and others can come to your neighborhood and register new voters and to encourage people to get to the polls. However, our efforts are not as effective as yours can be. People listen to their neighbors. They trust them. They will trust you. Convince them that they and you and your community need registered voters to be heard and to influence your local, state, and federal governments. We are a Democracy. You can lead it. And, it is far better to lead than to be left behind.
There is always another election coming soon. Be ready. Take charge. Make this your Democracy.