My Thoughts on Battleground Texas

As expected, everybody’s going after Battleground Texas. Republicans, for sure, trying to make us give up. The media, too, who walk the line between wanting to be impartial and objective, but also wanting to sound like experts with the inside track who are the first to say I told you so.

The calls, however, are also coming from inside the house. I’m talking about Democrats jumping on the anti-Battleground bandwagon.

That’s who I’m talking to right now. Some of you have been on it from the start, and some of you waited until  the returns started coming in, but I knew that sooner or later, you’d get in on it.

Here’s the deal—I volunteered on a Battleground team. I took part in a weekly phone bank. I helped out with some block-walks. I registered new voters, sometimes even driving to their homes or offices to sign them up or help them update their registration. I did a ton of data entry to support many others who called, block walked, and registered voters.

I also helped organize several fundraisers for the candidates at the top of our ticket, most with low ticket prices so they would be accessible to a wide range of people, and I served on host committees and attended events organized by other people for other candidates. I also organized a couple of coffees where people could learn more about specific issues, like education and women’s health, at my own home. I also took part in some public gatherings that featured speakers on issues ranging from immigration to transportation alternatives. There was no charge for those unless you wanted to buy a drink.

I voted early, which gave me time to drive other people to the polls. And then, on election day, I supported two teams of poll monitors who were the first line of recourse for people who were, for whatever reason, unable to vote.

I didn’t limit my engagement to only Battleground. I worked with other groups as well.

I did all of that, and I noticed something.

I never saw you at the phone bank. And when I called your house, you didn’t answer.

I didn’t see your name on the list at the door at my events, and when I knocked on your door at home, if it wasn’t inaccessible behind a locked gate, you sat silent until I left. When I was asking for help getting people to drive others to the polls, you weren’t available.

A few of you showed up to something every once in a while, but you stood at the back of the room talking to people you already knew, criticizing what others were doing. You didn’t introduce yourself to the new people or offer to help them learn what to do, or how to do it better.

I try very hard not to be the person who stands at the back of the room with my arms crossed and a smirk on my face, rolling my eyes because new people, different people, other people, are doing it wrong, or differently, or for a different audience. I try hard not to be that person because I don’t think it is constructive. Plus, I know there are some of you who’ve already mastered it, and I wouldn’t want to try to elbow in on your corner of the action.

I’m used to hard work that takes a long time and doesn’t necessarily yield wild success from the get-go. I know that kind of work goes better the more people you have doing it.

So the next time I call, pick up the damn phone.

Let’s talk about what we can do to move forward toward 2015 and 2016 and 2028.

Give me your tips for how to build a better phone bank, or voter registration drive, or GOTV program. Let’s pick a few precincts and work them hard in 2015 to see how we can drive turnout higher in 2016 and 2018.

Let’s test out our theories and reinvigorate our base. Let’s analyze the data, but let’s also work to be sure there is enough data to analyze.

Make the drive with me up to Austin some day to register support for a good bill or opposition to a bad one. I’ll pay for the gas and the kolaches at the halfway point.

Or do something else and don’t get me involved until you come to me after the fact to show me the measurable progress you made doing it your way. I want to know how to be successful, and if my way doesn’t work as well as your way, then I want to make your way mine, too.

But if you want to stand there and talk to me about how you knew it wouldn’t work, step off. If you knew it was a train wreck in slow motion, then good for you. Want a cookie? If you want to tear people and programs down instead of working to build them up, please move along. You can go to hell, and I’ll keep working for Texas.

 

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8 Responses to My Thoughts on Battleground Texas

  1. Angela says:

    Thanks, Andrea. For all you do, for all of us. You are a real hero to us!

  2. Heather Busby says:

    Thank you! All year I heard so much apathy & negativity coming from FELLOW DEMOCRATS. The refrain of “She won’t win” was very difficult to take. I know the reasons for what happened on election night are more complex than a self-fulfilling prophecy, but we could have done better. We should have done better. Unless we want to lose forever, we have to knock it the eff off and start being more supportive, more creative, more positive and more hard working.

  3. anamfores says:

    I understand your frustration.

    But let me tell you about my frustration.

    I wanted Wendy Davis to win. I wanted education to win. I wanted immigration to win. I wrote Wendy Davis and her team I don’t know how many letters. YET it didn’t seem that she wanted the same things I did, at least not in the beginning.

    Sure, education was an easy thing. It was non-partisan, safe enough.

    That was a no-brainer.

    But when I went to the meetings, and I suggested talking to the Latino neighborhoods, I was basically ignored.

    When volunteers called, they took things down, and they said thank you.
    And then they called again, as if they had never called, and they asked me the same thing. Again I told them you need to go to the Latino neighborhoods, but the Latino neighborhoods were ignored.
    Again I got a call. Again my call before — with my answer — had never been recorded.

    How often did this happen? How often did volunteers call and recall the same people until we got tired of telling you the same things over and over again, especially when you did not listen?

    I only began to see a change in Davis’ platform on immigration reform toward the end. Think, if she had gotten all those young DREAMers to work with her since the beginning, how many voters could she have had? HOW many voters who did NOT vote might have changed their minds if we had been reached sooner?

    The difference in actual votes was inconsequential. Davis lost because of Texas apathy, not that Republicans are loved, by any means…

    I would have worked on Wendy Davis’ campaign. But early on into her campaign, I was already so tired of not being listened to, that I said thanks, but no thanks. I have more important things to do.

    I have to fight for refugee families and against private prisons putting my people away who have committed no crime, just so they can make big bucks. I have to fight for Higher Education, reclaim it against the neoliberal agenda, which I need to work at constantly, because dark forces are quickly gathering.

    I cannot spend time on a campaign that doesn’t believe in me. So why should I believe in it?

    Besos, not borders,

    Ana M. Fores Tamayo, Adjunct Justice
    Petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/better-pay-for-adjuncts
    Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AdjunctJustice
    Tumblr: http://adjunctjustice.tumblr.com

    • That’s an incredibly frustrating story, especially given how critical it is for someone – other than phenomenal community activists, so I guess I mean someone in government – to show some bold leadership on immigration. I’ve had similar experiences with other campaigns and issues – reproductive justice, for example, which always gets the “just wait until we get to ____ and then we can _____ but please help us now” treatment. Certainly your experience falls into the category of constructive feedback that everyone needs to hear. I don’t think everything was perfect. What gets my goat, and what prompted me to write this, are the people who never even bothered to try and who sound off about things just to look like experts. I’m hopeful, though I know that is setting myself up for disappointment, that executive action on immigration might be in the works, that there was some sincerity and intention behind the “delay” until after the midterms. (I’ll confess to knowing not nearly enough about this as I should.) Thanks for sharing your experience.

      • anamfores says:

        I hope you’re right but I tend to think that this will be another case of no, we will be frustrated again. I think bold actions are sometimes in order, and sometimes they win because they are just.

        Look at what happened in Seattle with the socialist party. If you ever said that here, they would say that was a dirty word. BUT Kshama Sawant won, not because she was brown or Indian or an engineer or a socialist; she won because she appealed to the people’s sense of justice: we all need a living wage, whether we are brown or black or white or poor or educated.

        AND being a socialist didn’t swerve the race; $15/hour did! If that can be done in one place, it can be done in others. BUT it has to be done early on, starting at grassroots, from the beginning, bottom up, not afraid to go to the neighborhoods where no one votes. THOSE are the people we want: because those are the people who would vote for progressive change if there is something that they want.

        AND in Texas, everyone has a relative who is undocumented, who is a DREAMer, who is looking for a better life, for better education.

        Anyway, please sign my petition too, while I’m at it doing some activism, hahaha! This is for adjunct faculty, because we all need a living wage! http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/better-pay-for-adjuncts

        Besos, not borders,

        Ana M. Fores Tamayo, Adjunct Justice
        Petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/better-pay-for-adjuncts
        Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AdjunctJustice
        Tumblr: http://adjunctjustice.tumblr.com

  4. Reblogged this on Alexander Matthew Clark and commented:
    I’ll just leave this right here.

  5. Pingback: Eye on Williamson » TPA Blog Round Up (November 10, 2014)

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