Like many following Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the US Democratic Party nomination, I relate to the causes he is championing. Sanders’ focus on tackling corporate and financial influence within the executive, legislative and judicial branches of his country, effectively identifies the pillars which support the myriad inequalities of our time, whether they be economic, social, environmental, or more specifically, a combination of all three.
It is hard not to identify with the issues facing so many Americans, after all the deterioration of these trends is not specific to the United States. For example, in Canada, it is difficult to find a single outcome which points to an improvement in the quality of life people have today relative to the generation which preceded it.
This is not to downplay the various social freedoms that have, through struggle, expanded over the past 30 years; it is simply to point out that access to those expanded freedoms are mitigated by massively high rates of inequality. It is why the Sanders campaign, and its enormous successes are a dream come true for many. It represents a sea change in the political landscape that many feared would never materialize in our lifetime, and there is no doubt that its successes or failures will reverberate in Canada and around the world.
One of Bernie Sanders’ most repeated refrains is, “I’ve said it from day one, I can’t do it alone.” This sentiment reflects a cornerstone of his campaign. He can only win the presidency, and he can only succeed in transforming American society if millions of people become actively engaged in fighting alongside him.
Many non-Americans are eager to do everything we can to propel the Sanders campaign to victory. There is no need for us to resign ourselves to watch from the sidelines. The most practical way to engage in his campaign is to phone bank for it. This Reddit page contains all the instructions and tools you need to get started. The Sanders campaign will need lot of help to reach their call targets for the five states heading into primaries on Tuesday and beyond. There is much work to be done, and our contribution from abroad will help to free up volunteers on the ground in the US.
My experience phone banking for Bernie has been as positive and inspiring as the rest of the campaign. Most of the people I’ve spoken to have turned out to be Bernie supporters, and they are happy and proud to declare so. In Massachusetts almost everyone I spoke to was a Bernie supporter. It got to the point where I decided to move on to another state because the response was universally determined to support Sanders.
I had a similar experience with the voters in Michigan, Minnesota and Colorado.
Their responses included: “I’ve already voted and so has my husband and kids”; “if you see Bernie, tell him I love him”; “absolutely, and I’ve donated”; “I’m a Bernie volunteer myself”, “I was just at the rally”, and “I’m a supporter and I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t be a supporter”.
I never would have imagined receiving so much praise and gratitude from the recipients of unsolicited calls, but it’s quite easy to come by when phone banking for Bernie. I have only come across a handful of Clinton supporters and most of them indicated that other family members were voting for Sanders.
I strongly encourage phone banking to anyone living abroad who is eager to volunteer for the campaign. There is much work to be done, and our contribution from abroad will help to free up volunteers on the ground in the US.
They call it a struggle for a reason - a few words of what to expect:
You will get a lot wrong numbers, and some “do not calls”, but you can mark them as such and easily move on to the next call. Although the main purpose of the phone banking is to identify supporters and undecided voters, you will also be gathering valuable data that will be used in future campaigns, so even these calls serve a purpose.
The phone banking system currently contains a couple of glitches. In states that have already received a lot of calls, it occasionally calls people who have already been identified as supporters. After I hear this from people a couple times, I move on to another state. If people get too many calls, they will ask to be marked as “do not call”. I don’t know why this glitch is occurring, but I’m hoping that it is simply the result of a high concentration of calls in a short period of time.
When people answer your call, there is a short delay before you are able to connect with them. This is inherent to the Livevox system and a trademark of telemarketer or robo-calls. Although this isn’t the best way to start off, most people are fine with it as soon as they hear it is a real person who isn’t selling something. To mitigate this delay, it’s important to start speaking as soon as you hear the ding that indicates the call has begun. Some people will have already hung up by the time you get connected, or you may find yourself speaking to an answering machine. Don’t take it personally.
Now that you know what to expect, I hope you try it out.
It’s okay to modify the script once you get comfortable.
Here’s the script I’ve found to be the most natural:
Hi, my name is \_\_\_ and I’m a volunteer on the Bernie Sanders Campaign, is \_\_\_ there?
How are you? (If people are resistant to speaking with you, you will find out here.)
We are calling to ask if you’re planning to participate in the Democratic primary on \_\_\_?
Great. Do you mind if I ask if you’ve decided who you’ll support?
Great! Thank you very much for your support.
Are you aware of your primary location?
Alright, thanks again for committing to support Sanders. Thank you for chatting with me and have a great day.