When Voting Isn't Enough

I can hear you. It’s ten o’clock at night and you’re slouched on the sofa, watching the evening news and giving yourself indigestion while the dog cowers underneath the coffee table. You’ve spent the last few minutes bellowing at that helpless inanimate object, your television. “When will politicians WAKE UP?! This is no way to run a country!”

Well, armchair pundit, this is no way to run a campaign either. Your dog can’t vote. The neighbors are thinking of calling the police (you ARE kind of loud), and your family members, the ones who can still hear, are already well acquainted with your views.

It appears the politicians aren’t listening to you either. From your house to the statehouse is a long way to shout, and you’re already a bit hoarse. No, the politicians are giving their speeches and writing their bills and completely ignoring you. Many don’t know or care that you’re watching what they do.

It’s time to get their attention.

Despite the groundswell of enthusiasm and the talk of a Republican sweep, despite all the commentary in newspapers and on blogs, despite the pundits and the talk shows and the polls, there is still one person who can lose this race: you. Across the country, there are campaigns that are hurting for volunteers. There are millions of households that haven’t received a campaign call, millions of homes that haven’t been visited, and millions of dollars that haven’t been donated.

Oh, I hear the excuses. You can drop ’em faster than a hanging chad. You’ve been meaning to get around to volunteering… when? After the election? Well, you work long hours. Make campaign calls from home! (see the GOP’s Phone From Home Program). You feel like canvassing is obnoxious (but heavy taxation isn’t?). Stuff envelopes instead! You don’t like your local candidate? Volunteer in another district, or send your money to a candidate you DO care about. You don’t know how to get started? Just click this link, and select the area you live in to find the campaign headquarters nearest you.

The good news is that you’re not too late—in fact, you’re just in time. There’s a reason every candidate fears the ominous “October surprise.” The last few weeks of an election are when campaigns are made or destroyed. A strong volunteer effort can turn out the vote and turn around an election. But a candidate who has a lot of Chatty Cathys for constituents won’t win anything but pity on election night.

It’s much easier to talk about change than enact it (just ask the White House). But change, like charity, begins in the home. Unless you’re practicing to enter the World Whining Olympics, that evening couch commentary won’t make history—except when liberal pundits gleefully announce on the morning of November 3 that voters supported the status quo.

So what are you doing this weekend? Hopefully, the answer isn’t in your living room. Whether you can pick up the phone or your checkbook, hand out a brochure or a yard sign, Uncle Sam is counting on you to volunteer. And who knows—if you help make the difference, maybe this January you, and your family, will finally get to enjoy the evening news.