OP-ED: An Opportunity for All Washington County Dems
By Carol Greenough, Co-Chair WashCo Dems Campaign Committee
Many of us spend a significant part of our lives on politics. But, as Eitan Hersh, author of Politics is for Power, found in a 2018 survey of a cross section of Americans:
“Fifty-six percent of all respondents said they spend an hour or more each day on politics…Among those Americans who spend an hour or more a day on politics, 83 percent of them say that 0 percent of that time is spent in organized political activity…The average college-educated respondent says that 41 percent of the time he or she spends on politics is news consumption, 26 percent is discussing with friends and family either on social media or off-line, 21 percent is spent thinking about politics by themselves, 10 percent is in some way unclassifiable, and under 2 percent is in volunteering.”
Dr. Hersh makes the point that most of the time we spend on “politics” has no impact on elections or policy development. He devotes a chapter of his book to the Washington County Neighborhood Leader Program as one of the ways to meaningfully engage in the political process.
My question I ask myself and all of us is:
How much time do we spend on politics? How is that time spent? What are the meaningful results?
Some may want to keep a tally for a few days, keeping track of time spent on MSNBC or other news media, reading and posting on social media, and talking with like minded friends about political issues. I know that the numbers would be fairly high for me. I won’t stop doing these things. But the challenge I raise for myself and you is:
Will you take a part of the time spent in passive politics and devote it to active politics?
Right now we are in the middle of a critical election year. Every hour spent to help like-minded candidates may make a difference in our futures.
So what can we do?
Become a Neighborhood Leader
Take an extra turf. Encourage friends to become Neighborhood Leaders. We have almost 400 people who have signed up to work as neighborhood Leaders in at least one election in the last 4 years. And we know that contact with a Neighborhood Leader increases voter turnout – and probably increases the chance voters will support Democratic candidates we endorse. But we reached only around 20% of the Democratic voters in WashCo in the last election. Imagine what would happen if we each worked one extra turf? If we each found a friend to become a Neighborhood Leader? If we used this program to engage with our neighbors between elections?
Become a House District Leader
This is a bigger commitment, but also a chance to really engage with your community. A House District Leader helps recruit, train, and support Neighborhood Leaders in their district. But they also have the opportunity to recruit and engage with candidates and elected representatives in meaningful ways. We need HDL’s in all districts in Washington County at this time. Please take time to explore if this would be a good role for you. There is training and support available if you choose to get involved at this level.
Work for a campaign
Find a candidate or measure you like, go to their webpage and register to volunteer. There are many ways to get involved – canvassing, sending postcards, writing letters to the editor, hosting a house party, putting up a lawn sign, entering data, even baking cookies for volunteers.
Stay engaged after the election
Politics is not an end in itself. It is a way to choose like-minded people to craft and execute important policy. If we have worked to elect someone or to pass a ballot measure, we need to make sure that we achieve our long range governance and policy goals. This means following what happens in the legislature, testifying or writing to let your reps know what you support, talking to neighbors and passing their concerns on to elected officials, writing supportive letters to the editor and on social media, and pushing for legislation that responds to our concerns. We also need to give thanks and support to those who are serving us in these hard times. This is the core of governing and can be very satisfying.
Work within the party
Join a group or caucus that advances things you care about, take a shift in the Hillsboro office, run for an office or work as a staff member for a candidate, contribute to WashCo Dems and to candidates.
Work in the community
The change we seek doesn’t just happen within the realm of party politics. We can make an immense difference by seeking involvement with nonprofits that are working daily to change life for us and our neighbors. Perhaps the most “political” thing we can do is to help reduce hunger in our community, to see that a young person has emotional support, to help build a park or fight climate change by tree planting.
If you are reading this blog, you are probably doing many of these things. And, many of us are already pretty maxed out with the demands of life. But, if each of us took a look at how we spend our time and carved out even an hour a week to increase our involvement, it could make a big difference. Thank you for what you do and for your caring. Feel free to touch base with me with any comments or if I can help out in any way.
co-chair WashCo Dems Campaign Committee
chair, East WashCo Dems
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