Volunteer Profile - Voter Registration - Betsy: Like Waves Eroding a Rock

Interview with Betsy, a volunteer at the Sat, Feb. 3, phone bank in San Francisco, organized by Democracy Action and Swing Left SF.

How did you find your way here today?

I think it was through Swing Left. I'm signed up for a number of different newsletters and email updates, and I've been volunteering for Swing Left's work in District 10.   (Editor’s note – Swing Left SF is focused on turning the House seat in District 10, just to the east of San Francisco, from red to blue in the 2018 midterms.)

What have you done so far?

I've gone out to District 10 twice.  I went out once for a voter registration event and once for a door-knocking canvassing event. And then I set up a fundraising page, and I want to plan a couple of fundraising events, but I'm still trying to figure out how to do that.

How did you first get involved? 

I think I spent a year feeling very frazzled and very fragmented, concerned about everything--guns, DACA, healthcare, and all the corruption. I felt absolute horror and outrage and anxiety at every turn. It's really in the past month or so that I've decided to narrow my focus on the November election. This feels more hopeful, focusing on district 10. It's a flippable district and we can just keep working on the slow and steady grassroots stuff, which has been shown to be effective.

Tell me about your voter registration trip in District 10.

I hauled out to Tracy. It's like an hour and a half away. My husband has agreed that his political act will be to watch our son, and I'm going to go out and do the leg work. Then it was just arming myself with a clipboard and going to a shopping plaza. I brought my dog, which made us harder to refuse. It felt like we were talking to a friendly audience mostly.

The goal was registering people to vote?

Yes, the ostensible purpose was to get people registered to vote. But I think it's also just a chance to get the election on everyone's radar, to get people to make a pledge that they're going to vote in the fall. Most people are already registered. The next level is to get them to sign up for vote by mail. But to me the most valuable part of it was to get everybody to keep their eyes on the prize, the midterm election. It's really easy to overlook this one, and everything depends on it.   

What kept you from acting earlier? How did you overcome that?

I think one barrier that I probably always felt before was a sense of the enormity of it. And the one-drop-in-the-huge-ocean kind of overwhelm of it. And I think what's affected me was when I went to the women's march in DC and just the enormous outpouring of energy and motivation. That made me feel more hopeful in that while I was just one little voice, I had this picture in my head of hundreds of thousands of other voices that were also making these repeated calls. It feels like there's an obstacle in that everybody feels like it's so little, and it's hard to believe that you can make a difference. And what's been powerful for me is that as you tap into these networks, you see that there is this actual constant buzz all around us and people really making small regular contributions to change. And you can believe that makes a difference when you add it all up. But you have to be a part of that stream. I just felt I needed to be like waves eroding a rock, just keep battering down on it and wear it away.

How do you stay positive?

It seems like every day that passes, Republicans just make things worse. And while that’s horrible with its impact, the gift that it gives us is that it puts the House within reach, and there's hope if we just focus on making it happen.


Profile picture for user Haney Armstrong
Haney Armstrong , Feb 14 2018 - 3:08pm
Thanks for sharing your story and for spending your time in this struggle.