The Zipless Election of 2012

2012 was a zipless election. Although the public was demonstrably present for the experience, somehow we didn’t feel completely engaged.

It seemed to morph into a contest between dirty tricks and voter suppression tactics on one side, countered by techno wizardry and micro-sampling of key voters in swing states on the other. As a result, while celebrating  big wins for progressives, women, and people of color, and some clear policy victories, we’re left feeling stunned as much as euphoric.

We need to find new ways to create and sustain civic engagement that cross the lines between Tahrir Square, the town hall meeting, and Twitter, to feel like we’ve won the policy debates that we actually have, on taxing the wealthy and protecting reproductive rights, and to take on the entrenched interests blocking progress on the big issues that lie ahead.

Some encouraging clues from the cyber campaign: It helped that the polling was remarkably deft. Finally, someone figured out how to frame a question about the right to abortion that gauged and activated the power of this issue to motivate women voters positively. It made sense to reach out to people in beauty parlors and barber shops as well as likely voters with landline phones.

Voters responded most to hearing directly from people they perceived as being like themselves, and who created a bond of accountability about the intention to vote. In other words, Organizing 101 still applies.  Group identity and personal relationships do influence how we think and vote, and ultimately our policies.

The Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign is launching initiatives that blend cyber solidarity with our presence in the public square. For the 40th anniversary of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the U.S., the TWSR coalition will offer an online campaign. And on January 26, 2013, we’ll Celebrate Women, Life and Liberty in San Francisco.

For a good time, call, click or email.

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