In all the post mortem talk from last week, I’ve seen mention of a lack of GOTV and the famed 72 hour plan of the RNC, greatly lamented, unimplemented this year as not cost-effective. It cost us otherwise winnable seats, where was the money, where were the DC staffers, etc.
I’m a beginner. I’ve watched from the sidelines for decades. I listened in person to Ronald Reagan, a former Governor, on the stump at the Peoria Courthouse decades ago. I shook hands with Richard Nixon during a Chicago visit at O’Hare airport even earlier. But I wasn’t involved until this past year.
We all draw our lessons from our experiences.
This year, as a brand-new Precinct Committman (thanks, CW!), I ‘worked’ booths at local festivals, fairs, events. I got to know many of the candidates personally. The hard-working ones, the ones who WANTED IT, showed up, talked to people, talked to me. So, when I just lived my life, I could speak to others of John So-and-so, or Mary This-n-that, who were candidates I KNEW, who knew me, and who I could sincerely advocate for. This had nothing whatsoever to do with TV or radio ads, jingles or slogans. I knew these people, and those who know me could trust that I knew what I was talking about. Does wonders, ya know?
This is all well & good, but what’s it got to do with GOTV?
Several times during this campaign, including the final Saturday, my ‘boss’, the local PC Chairman called to see if I could help with phone-banking or pavement-pounding. The last instance was instigated by one of those local candidates, a good guy I had come to know, who wanted as many of us as possible to go door-to-door with his fliers for a last-minute GOTV. A couple dozen of us showed up, walked precincts, our own and others, in the spirit of helping out a good candidate and friend. Another candidate ‘camped on’, came along with, and we distributed his literature as well.
They both won, handily.
Was it due to mine and others sore feet and hoarse voices? Probably not. Both of these fellows were the ones who WANTED IT, worked themselves to a frazzle for the past year, clearly articulated their positions, and won people over. But our last-minute GOTV certainly didn’t hurt, may have even helped.
GOTV seems to work best locally and on the ground. Having a local organizational structure to notify people, recruit & organize labor and do the needed planning is essential, but doesn’t require DC staffers or a lot of outside money. So where does this structure, these few local dollars, come from?
Look in the mirror.
Sometimes you have to step away from that keyboard and stop yelling and throwing things at the TV set, or fuming at the op-ed page. If you’re dissatisfied with the way things are, perhaps it’s now time to get up off your duff and begin to do something about it. I’m assuming your county Republican Committee exists, is listed in the phone book or on the Web, and would like to hear from you as a volunteer, even now, post-election. More elections are on the horizon. So, do it. I can’t dial the phone for you.
But, be aware. Your phone may begin ringing. You may be stunned to see YOUR NAME on a ballot. You may begin to receive mail addressed to ‘The Honorable (your name)’. People you’ve only ever in the past seen on TV may start shaking your hand and calling you by your first name, especially when they sincerely thank you for all your hard work.
At least for me, it all makes my aching feet hurt a bit less.