Why do we “Rock the Vote”?

CLC Staff / May 28, 2016 /

In today’s political environment, just about everybody is questioning “the political establishment”. Voters from every part of the country, in both parties, from all religions, are skeptical about how our democracy works.

With a iphone in one hand and a TV remote in the other, voters are getting overloaded with information about how to react to current events, and most of it is negative. “Politics” has become a dirty word to the average person. Or something too complicated to sacrifice personal time for.

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We’ve all been there. We’ve seen the commercials. We’ve experienced negative campaigning. We’re educated on Citizens United. At some level, we all know that we are engaging in an ugly sport that brings out personal issues and hurt feelings. That’s never the intent, but it’s always the case.

So nobody can blame the uneducated voter or overloaded iphone user. We have to find unique ways to connect with voters so we can provide them with education on our values. That’s the bottom line for every advocacy group. And in 2016, most people view their union as a safety net, not a source of education on current events. So when we do provide relevant information, it is often ignored or less appealing than a personal issue that requires attention. This is not the world we created, but it is the world we live in.

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With all of this in mind, the leadership of the Central Labor Council decided to take a new approach to electoral campaigns in 2016, hoping to create that unique space where we can connect with our voters. After decades of relatively similar campaign activity, we have built our new political program around five basic principles:

1. Great food (usually free)
2. Entertaining atmospheres
3. Community involvement
4. Family friendly activism
5. Non-partisan, union messaging

These principles, together with many failures and national training conferences, have generated our very first Rock the Vote series. We have long known that free food is a major factor to recruiting activists.

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We have learned recently, however, that the real key to activist retention revolves around providing a great meal before and after a volunteer activity. Thus you will never have a bad meal at our Rock the Vote events. (Cont.) While enjoying your asada tacos, chicken fajitas or BBQ chicken sandwich, you’ll be able to watch one of our live bands, send your kids over to the bounce house or pick up helpful information on local elections from one of our community booths. If you need legal assistance or resources on United States citizenship, that’s available as well.

-Dillon Savory, CLC Political Director

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