Organizing your own precinct is useful not just for state and federal elections but for local politics, too. That’s the second reason to do it. Core issues to liberals, like racial equality and environmental protection, and core issues to conservatives, like economic development and religious expression, are hashed out locally. On the environment, for instance, liberals even in deep blue cities and towns could push for much more. Or not. Whoever has power in precincts gets to decide.
What does it mean to organize your precinct? Track down a list of voters. You can get it from a local election office or from a political organization. If you can, work within an existing organization: a local party committee or an activist group. If the local organizations in your area are lethargic and ineffectual, then find one or two people to join you and, boom, you are a precinct committee, self-appointed to connect to voters in your neighborhood.
Meet your neighbors. Could you learn a few hundred names by 2020? You probably could. Ask them what they care about. Focus on them. Be an empathetic listener.
Who gives you the authority to do this? The precinct committee, of course. You are one of its founding members.
How much time will this take? Just about the same amount you currently spend futzing around online.
Is this for everyone? Probably not, but if you are reading this, you might very well be the best-equipped person in America to organize your precinct. Even if you intend to relocate within a couple years, as is common among young adults, joining a committee to organize at your current address will give you skills that will be transferable wherever you go.
Isn’t organizing only for ideologues? No. If activism doesn’t fit with the aloof, independent self-image you’re trying to curate, then grow up. Politics is about power. It might be helpful for moderates to get some more of it. Or less. Anyone who organizes empowers their vision for the future. If moderate voters don’t like polarized politics, they might consider stepping up to the plate and organizing.
As you build relationships in your neighborhood, your encouragement to vote (and your recommendations) will be a more potent form of mobilization than any stranger’s door-knock. Keep in mind that most citizens don’t think much about politics. They might vote for the wrong side or stay home on Election Day simply because no one like you is reaching out.