A US presidential election to-do list

I am well aware that this is a vast generalization but, in my daily goings on, I encounter four types of democratic leaning voters:

  1. Despondent:  Those who feel nothing they do matters. Their voice and vote won't impact the election. It's all rigged, Trump has his hand on the scale, and no matter what we do he's going to win. This is exactly how Trump and his cronies want them, and you, to feel.
  2. We've Got This: People who, based on national polls and data provided on sites such as fivethirtyeight.com, believe that Biden has this in the bag. For anyone who falls into this category may I refer you to the 2016 election.
  3. Uninspired: Folks that say they aren't going to vote because they aren't 'inspired' by Joe Biden. Or maybe they'll vote but won't go out of their way to get Biden/Harris elected.
  4. Gung Ho: These people understand the stakes of the game. Even if they started as a Bernie or Warren supporter, they recognize that the election is now between two candidates. They are out there, or on-line, helping to get Biden and Harris into the White House.

No matter which of above categories you fall under, if you want to see Donald Trump leave the oval office, whether by his own free will or in handcuffs, it's time to do everything in your power to get him the fuck out. The last four years we have been gaslighted, desensitized, and demoralized. Even if you don't hold a lot of faith in our  political system, the fastest and only remedy directly in front of us lies within the upcoming election. The future of our democracy, of the America that we've known our entire lives, hangs in the balance. Joe Biden very well may be our last guardrail.

Polls have shown that it's not enough to be anti-Trump. A recent study conducted by Future Now, for example, found that positive information about Biden is nearly twice as effective at moving voter choice than negative messaging on Trump. I appreciate Instagram accounts like Settle For Biden but to give him the best chance of winning we need to embrace, embolden and promote Joe Biden. We have to shift the narrative, to emphasize the strengths of him and his campaign, and talk less about the treachery of Trump. 

If you are feeling apathetic about Joe Biden here are few things that may hit home. He is running a very progressive campaign: Health care, women's rights, climate change, LGBQT issues, and student debt, are strong examples. He's voiced support for Black Lives Matter and any momentum on police reform has an infinitely greater chance of achieving real transformation under Biden. By his own admission Biden sees himself as a 'transition candidate.' His presidency will serve as a bridge to the next generation of leaders, one that is reflective of the changing demographics of America. He has already selected the first woman of color to be nominated for national office by a major political party as his running mate and will build a cabinet of progressive leaders, experts, and activists. He's also a man of character and integrity. Even Trump lapdog Lindsay Graham once proclaimed that "Joe Biden is as good a man as God ever created."

So, what can we all do as the Election fast approaches?  I am by no means an expert on the matter but having worked at the intersection of music and politics for quite some time I do have a few ideas to share:  

  • First and foremost, check your voter registration to make sure it is up to date. You can do that at Vote.org.
  • If you plan to vote by mail and haven't requested an absentee ballot do so immediately. This can also be done at Vote.org.
  • Distribute accurate, vetted information about the candidates, the issues, deadlines, and polling locations. Disinformation is one of the cornerstone tactics of voter suppression. I know that posting on our own social media timeline can feel like screaming into the void but the more that accurate information can be reinforced is crucial. Websites likes Headcount.org, Vote 411 and Vote Save America are few sources that come to mind. Also, Fivethirtyeight.com built a handy voter resource page.
  • Get the message out about voting early. Even during a typical election year, there are issues with mail-in voting. As I'm sure you've read or heard, mail is now taking longer to reach its destination given the recent politicized changes within the Postal Service. The safest bet is to vote early and in person. However, if you are voting by mail send your ballot in as soon as possible to ensure it is delivered and counted. A new Instagram account, The Early Vote,  has posted simple and clear state-specific information and you can find the same, with a bit more detail, on Vote.org.
  • Call voters. Let them know when early voting begins in their state, if they are mailing in a ballot to do it early and make sure it is filled out correctly. If they plan to vote in person, confirm where the nearest polling station is located. If they are voting on Election Day, prepare them for long lines and suggest they bring something to read, a snack and a bottle of water. Grass Roots Dems and Swing Left have phone banking resources that are simple to utilize.
  • Write to voters. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! You are supporting the USPS while supplying information to potential voters in what, nowadays, is a novel fashion. Vote Forward is great for this and Swing Left gives you the tools to host a virtual letter writing party.
  • Volunteer to be a poll worker. As anyone who has voted at a polling station can attest, these are largely staffed by older people who are the most vulnerable to Covid. There is a valid concern that stations will be understaffed leading to even longer lines. If you are young and able-bodied you can play a crucial role in helping people to cast their ballot in 2020. Lebron James, along with a number of other professional athletes, recently launched an initiative to register poll workers called More Than a Vote. You can also sign up as part of Fair Fight's Power the Polls initiative.
  • Donate. If you don't have time but have the financial resources that is great too. Donate directly to Biden's campaign or the DNC or any of the organizations named above. Some others to consider: Black Voters Matter Fund, Future Now and Voting Rights Lab. There are also numerous organizations working on the ground in specific swing states or districts if you prefer to go that route.
  • Be prepared, and prepare others, that it is unlikely we will know the winner come election night due to the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots. It's quite possible that Trump will try to declare victory that evening regardless, and begin a push to leave millions of votes left uncounted. Be vocal, ready to take to the streets to protest (with masks on!) and dig in for a long fight. This election just might make 2000 feel like child's play. We need to make sure each and every vote is counted. That, after all, is the cornerstone of our democracy.

My intention is not to cause additional stress during an incredibly stressful period of time. My hope is to provide helpful information and, ultimately, motivate you to do what you can to win this election and get our country back on track. Whatever you can do, however you are able to contribute, even if it doesn't always feel this way, matters. We all have a voice, the ability to make an impact and ultimately, enact change. We need you, every single one of you. Now.

Jordan Kurland is a founding partner of Brilliant Corners Artist Management. The company's roster includes Death Cab for Cutie, Postal Service, Toro Y Moi, Best Coast, She & Him and Soccer Mommy. Most recently he quarterbacked, along with author Dave Eggers, the release of the digital compilation, Good Music to Avert the Collapse of American Democracy, which raised over $250k in 24 hours for Fair Fight and Color of Change. He is also a partner in live events producer Noise Pop Industries and served on the Entertainment Advisory Committee for Barack Obama in 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

image: alteration of original photo by Tom Arthur (CC BY-SA 2.0)