Volunteer Profile - Phone Banking - Marilyn: The Thrill of Winning Alabama
(Editor’s note. Marilyn was interviewed on Sat. Feb. 3 between her calls for Democracy Action to Pennsylvania for Conor Lamb, a Democrat in a special election for a House seat. Rapid Resist is an organization that enables people to send text messages to lawmakers.)
What organizations are you active with?
Democracy Action, Rapid Resist, and Swing Left. That's about as much as I can handle.
What makes you feel like you're making a difference as just one person?
One of the things that is so important to me is that the GOP is a party of money and we know that they've got all these billionaires and they can spend and conquer the media waves to get their word out. But I know that there is nothing more powerful than word of mouth and people talking to people. And that's what really matters and since we have the people, that's what we should be doing. That's our strength. It's not money, it's people.
So how much phone banking are you doing these days?
At least once a week.
What's it like?
There's a profile of the person you're calling so you know that they're a Democrat, you know how old they are. All those kinds of things really help. For the most part the people we reach are very nice. They thank you for taking the time to make this effort.
So what would you say to your friends if they said: “I could never do that because it's rude to talk to strangers.”
It was really funny because I have my cousin in Hawaii and she said the same thing: “I just feel like it's so intrusive and people would so much hate it.” And then she was called by someone, and she said it was actually a very nice experience. She really felt OK, wait a minute, this is a really nice person and you're respectful and everything. And so she came around. I have to admit, I am not brave enough to do door to door. That's why I'm doing phone banking and postcard protesting and texting.
What are your talking points when you get a Democrat on the phone?
Well, they differ. For Pennsylvania: “Did you know there’s an election coming up on March 13th? Who are you leaning towards voting for?”Then you ask them, and this is another part that I really love: Are they willing to have a sign in their yard? Are they willing to volunteer? Does anyone need a ride to the polls? This makes it feel so very much like a community effort. It's really great.
What was the most satisfying phone banking you’ve done recently?
When we called Alabama. It was so great. The black vote really came out. It was so rewarding to speak to black people to be able to say, do you need a ride? Do you want to go with someone because sometimes it's threatening for them to just go vote. So just to be able to support them like that was great. And Doug Jones, oh my gosh. He sent thank you's to all of us. That was unusual. So I was really impressed.
Were you surprised that Doug Jones won?
More than surprised, just thrilled. It works!
Does it make you feel better when you're active?
Absolutely. I think when people don't do anything, you feel helpless. And I think that definitely builds that sense of despair. You've got to feel like no matter what, you are in the good fight.