Greg Pak Profile picture
12 Jan, 51 tweets, 11 min read
Imagine if we’d lost the Georgia runoffs.

Imagine if Trump had actually won reelection.

We’d be doomed as a democracy. I don’t say that lightly. We’d be doomed.

Again, if you did anything to get out the vote, you’re my hero.

And if you didn’t, I want you with us next time.
Zero shame if you haven’t gotten involved in political campaigns before. It’s not something most people do, really!

But it’s so critical. And if you’re willing, I WILL HELP YOU GET INVOLVED. As will hundreds of other folks on here. It’s really not hard! Just takes a little time.
The next big push will be the midterms in 2022. Incredibly important — we need to retain the House and expand our lead in the Senate. But even before that, there’ll be tons of special elections and local elections. And local elections ARE EVERYTHING.
When we show up for every local election, we help local folks build organizations that eventually win locally, state wide, and nationally. That’s Arizona. That’s Georgia. That’ll be Texas in a few years.
So what does it mean to get involved in elections? It means signing up with a candidate or group that’s registering voters, educating voters, and getting folks to actually vote.

I prefer working with local groups when possible.

Then you pick the work that fits your abilities.
If you’re local, you can do on-the-ground voter registration and canvassing. That’s when folks go out in person to public places or go door-to-door to register voters or to give voters campaign lit or get folks to actually vote when polls open.
In person canvassing can be intimidating - you’re knocking in people’s doors! Seeing them in person! But it’s INCREDIBLY effective. The lack of in-person canvassing may have been one of the reasons Democrats didn’t do as well as expected in congressional elections in November.
There’s also something really special about in-person canvassing. It’s the most classic campaign experience. Even if you’re not a huge people-person, I highly recommend doing it at least once.

But of course it’s not for everyone, especially during a pandemic...
But there are plenty of other great ways to get involved! Phone banking is probably the next most effective method of outreach. Campaigns get publicly available lists of voters and break them down by party and neighborhood and target folks for messaging.
When you sign up to phonebank, you generally do a training over zoom that lasts maybe 30 to 45 minutes. Campaigns these days use dialers that you access through a web browser on a computer. No phone necessary and the people you’re calling don’t see your phone number. Privacy!
Phonebanking is intimidating to a lot of people because first, who the heck calls anyone anymore? And second, it’s weird calling strangers! BUT! It’s not that hard, actually! The online dialer has a script that you read, and you check off boxes according to the responses you get.
You get new lines to read based on the responses you log. And these are usually pretty straightforward scripts — not to hard to get through. Yes, you do have to think on your feet a bit. And yes, the people you call are not always nice.
But usually the rude people just hang up. That’s not so bad! You mark ‘em as a hang up and move on. And sometimes you get AMAZING calls with great folks who are big supporters or who might be really thrilled to hear from fellow Democrats.
And sometimes you might actually make a real difference! You might help someone find their polling place, or actually convince someone who was on the fence to actually go vote. That’s exactly the kind of thing that wins elections, and that happens in every phone bank shift.
Yes, sometimes people are horrible. In my last phone bank shift for the GA runoffs, a woman said, “I have three words for you. You commie bastard, go f— yourself.” I did not have the presence of mind to tell her that was six words. But I did work in a cheery “God bless!”
There’s no real silver lining to the horrible calls. But in a modern phonebank, you’re usually on a zoom or slack chat with fellow phonebankers and you can commiserate with the organizers and your fellow volunteers. It’s a genuine community effort and YOU ARE SUPPORTED.
I mean, one good thing is that when you uncover a truly horrible person, you mark them as such and they’re removed from the database so we don’t waste time trying to contact them again, which is good for the campaign.
Okay. So that’s phonebanking. It’s not my FAVORITE, but I know it’s effective and sometimes it’s the only volunteering opportunity, so I DO IT. Can’t do more than a couple hour shift, though - I really turn it on - smile when you dial! So it’s physically & emotionally exhausting.
So I highly recommend phonebanking. But maybe that’s a little too intense for ya. NO PROBLEM! There’s textbanking, too! You’re here on Twitter — you’ve got all the skills you need for textbanking!
Textbanking is just like phonebanking but it’s done through texts. You do the training and you get set up on a website with an interface for texting through your computer. There are prewritten scripts — you just hit that return key repeated and send out your initial batch...
And then when the replies come in, you pick the appropriate responses that the website offers. And you mark the voter with different tags, as appropriate. Again, your phone isn’t involved and your privacy is protected. And it’s all just texts! Easy peasy!
The trick with textbanking is that people tend to be MUCH MUCH MUCH RUDER than phonebanking. Depending on the nature of the list I was working on, I sometimes got DOZENS of “f— you”s during the course of a session. But you know what? Who cares! It’s just texts!
Different orgs have different policies for opting people out, but generally if someone curses at you, you opt ‘em out. Some orgs enjoin you to be VERY polite and not deviate from the standard scripts. Some allow you to add “Bless your heart” or some such.
Generally with text banks & phone banks, you are NOT there to argue. You’re finding out who supports your candidate and getting out the vote, not trying to convert people who hate you. So if you’re worried about being asked to argue with Rs, don’t be. That’s not what it’s about.
Now early in a campaign in particular, there IS outreach to try to convert undecided voters. Again, you’re not there to ARGUE, but in those cases, the scripts do have you trying to engage and nudge. The scripts give you responses/things to say, so don’t worry!
I actually found textbanking to be very educational in terms of understanding what folks are thinking out there. People will tell you all kinds of stuff! Got a sense of the increased support for Trump in South Texas a little ahead of time from textbanking, for example.
It was also interesting to see the kinds of repeated catchphrases people were using in their responses. You get a sense of how the other side’s messaging is working that way.
And with all of this outreach, you get exposed to a huge diversity of people. A lot of trolls! But also a lot of folks with widely diverging concerns and issues. And that’s hugely informative and educational and important for us as citizens and human beings.
Speaking of trolls, textbanking is also interesting when you encounter people who want to engage and discuss things. A bunch are just straight-up trolls who want to waste your time. You make a judgement call and extract yourself politely and move on. But...
Sometimes you get people who actually seem to want to talk about certain issues. And when the organizers I was working for allowed for it, I would take the time to engage, to find out what those folks were concerned about and speak from my heart about why I was voting as I was.
That’s valuable because there is that chance you’re talking to someone who can be moved. And it’s valuable because it gives you the chance to think through what really matters to you and practice sharing it with others in a politically and personally effective way.
Most of the people who wanted to engage like that were indeed trolls. BUT some weren’t. And as I’d say in those texts, if they were willing to have a good faith conversation, I was up for it! And I have to believe that if someone wasn’t trolling, that conversation was worthwhile.
Maybe it didn’t bring ‘em over in that moment. But it gave them something to think about. And maybe over time it’ll have an effect. That’s all this work in a microcosm, really. Millions of little interactions and nudges and conversations to move a few thousand votes...
...AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT WINS ELECTIONS. All those conversations cumulatively end up shifting enough people to, say, win Georgia by just over 11,000 votes.

When you volunteer, you make that happen. Lemme repeat that. You make that happen. Your work literally makes it happen.
Okay, got distracted a bit there. Textbanking: easy! Fun! Like Twitter but it actually gets people to the polls!

But let’s say textbanking isn’t for you, or the campaign you wanna help doesn’t offer it.

There are still more options!
During this election season more than any other, I saw a bunch of groups organize postcard and letter writing to swing states. I did a bunch of letters through @votefwd. You sign up, indicate how many letters you wanna write, download a pdf with all the letters with addresses...
And then you print out the letters and fill in your personal message in the allotted space in the form letter. Then you address and stamp and stuff the envelopes and mail them on the day designated by the org. EASY, right?
If you’ve got social anxiety, sending postcards or letters may be the perfect way to get involved. Only hitch is that you pay for the envelopes and postage yourself. And you need to have access to a printer. But if that’s manageable for you, I highly recommend it!
The thing is, ALL these different ways of reaching voters are incredibly effective and complementary. Different folks respond better to different kinds of outreach. And people usually need to be contacted in multiple ways before they pay full attention.
So whichever way you choose to volunteer, IT MATTERS AND IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE. And there really is a way for just about anyone to jump in.
I’ll also say that doing actual election work was one of the primary thing that kept me functional this fall. Every day of 2020 was a crisis and a trauma, and 2021 is shaping up to be just as bad. But when I was actually volunteering, I didn’t feel anxious - I felt almost GOOD.
Actually volunteering to get out the vote for a campaign is the opposite of doomscrolling. It kicks you OUT of wallowing in despair and INTO proactively working on something positive. I highly, highly recommend it as an antidote to this accursed website, for example.
Similarly, getting involved in actual electoral work gives you something practical to do with this crummy website. Instead of just RTing new horrors, you can RT volunteering opportunities or info on how to vote or any number of practical things you learn about when you volunteer.
So that’s my big pitch for getting involved in actual electoral politics. Yes, it takes some time and work! But it’ll heal your heart every single day you do it and it can literally save the world!
I’ll also say that when you step up and start volunteering, there’s a great chance that you’ll end up bonding with folks in your community and make friends who’ll walk through fire for you and vice versa for the rest of your days.
And volunteering will throw you into a community of fellow volunteers whom you barely know but who will make you cry like a baby when you see them dancing and celebrating in their bedrooms and living rooms during the group zoom post-election party.
This is why I have zero patience for doomsayers who get on Twitter and say there’s no point. Yeah, we don’t win every election. But there’s always a chance. And everyday heroes get out there and fight in every election to build the orgs that will win next time.

Come be a hero.
Thanks for sticking this out. Might be my longest thread on this goofy website.

If you wanna get involved, stick around - I’ll plug all kinds of opportunities when the time comes. And follow my heroes @rokwon @runwithskizzers & @Celeste_pewter who post great stuff all the time.
Also, search out and follow your state’s Democratic Party. I volunteered for @texasdemocrats @OHDems and @PADems during the general - every state has a party that needs volunteers.
And search out independent groups that are organizing year round in communities or around issues that matter to you. In Georgia, I volunteered for @AsianAAF and @ngpaction. There are so many more on GA, and in every state. Poke around!
Finally, there are nonprofits and other groups that don’t (and legally can’t) coordinate with specific candidates, but which do incredibly important voting rights work. I love @VoteRiders and @TXCivilRights. There are so many more. Seek out the ones you like and work for them!

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More from @gregpak

12 Jan
#AquariumUpdate Setting up a new tank. Walstad natural planted tank method, with a substrate of garden topsoil covered by sand. In this case I’m trying a hardwater variation, using aragonite instead of sand. Vallisneria & hornwort in there for now. Going for a vallisneria jungle.
No heater so far (!). May try a room temp native fish tank with sheepshead minnows and mollies (!). We’ll see!
This is basically like my cooking photo threads, but it’ll take months instead of minutes and you can’t eat the final product. ;-)
Read 14 tweets
10 Jan
stevie i love you so much but are you trolling me
don't have to tell me twice stevie
Read 6 tweets
10 Jan
"Unity and healing" are impossible without accountability and consequences.
Also, "unity and healing" require stripping seditionists of social standing and political power. They can rejoin society and heal when they've been stripped of their ability to hurt it.
If you're a seditionist or enabled seditionists, you don't get to whine about losing power if you want unity and healing. You have to give up power and do other, non-sociopathic things with the rest of your life. THEN we all can heal.
Read 4 tweets
8 Nov 20
Today was incredible.

Imagine inauguration.
Then imagine calling your reps the very next day to tell them to push Biden to the left... and thinking we might actually have a shot.

We’ve got so much work ahead of us. But it’s a new world.

Biden said it: possibility.

Now it’s our job to help him see it and seize it.
I think Biden absolutely realizes he could be one of the greatest presidents in history, guiding our country through one of its greatest crises.

And I think he’s a person who’s learned and grown over the years, expanding his understanding of the country’s problems...
Read 7 tweets
6 Nov 20
Gonna rest in a bit. But two thoughts on next steps:

1. Fight to protect the election results.

2. Fight to get @ReverendWarnock and @ossoff elected.

3. SIMULTANEOUSLY refocus on COVID & communities in need. Give to @getusppe & your local food banks. Bad winter coming.
(Sorry, that was three thoughts.)
Big thanks to @prisonculture for this link to local foodbanks. Give if you can to one near you. The winter is going to be hard and the federal government during the lame duck is going to the opposite of help.…
Read 6 tweets
6 Nov 20
Now let's get those Senate seats.
Some relevant info from the AJC: 8,899 military ballots had been requested but not yet returned as of yesterday morning. Any military ballots have to be received today to be counted in GA.…
Read 8 tweets

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