The events preceding the 2020 election were unlike anything we have seen in recent history. From the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, to President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis, many felt concerned and confused as November 3 approached. Additionally, with the continued coronavirus pandemic, police violence toward black and indigenous people worldwide, and the climate crisis, many felt there was more at stake during this election than ever before. Feeling desperate and anxious about the future, many Concord Academy community members were inspired to take action in support of causes they felt passionate about. While voting is the most obvious way for individuals to engage with electoral politics, it is not the only way to fight for change, especially for those not eligible to vote. Emma Storbeck, a history teacher, shared, “[it’s] important to Democratic processes, but it’s also one part of it.” Other ways to get involved included efforts to get out the vote and build support for specific candidates.
While traditional door-to-door canvassing was not an option this year, phone banking was a great opportunity for many to get involved with the election. Phone banking, where volunteers call individuals to educate or persuade them, can serve many purposes. Natalie Samulka ’24 spent some time phone banking for the presidential race as well as several Senate races. She described the experience as simultaneously fun with a lot of waiting around.
Lilia Kasdon ’22 echoed this sentiment, “Most people just don’t want to talk, but if there’s one person you can help, it’s worth it.” Phone banking can also be a nonpartisan endeavor; many phone banking efforts are solely focused on helping to get out the vote. Storbeck believes that efforts like these are extremely important in combating voter suppression, noting, “It’s tough to call something activism when it feels like a necessary thing to do.”
For many, activism took other forms as well, such as letter writing, in which volunteers hand write and send personalized letters to voters. Sasha Green ’22, who participated in both phone banking and letter writing campaigns, shares, “[Letter writing] feels much more like an act of care [in comparison other forms of activism]”. Sasha does have some qualms about the process, “There is much more of a disconnect, because with phone banking you have an instant connection,” she elaborated. Similarly to phone banking campaigns, letter writing aims to address a variety of issues, frequently including voter suppression. While shown to be not as effective as making phone calls, letter writing is a great way for volunteers to build community and get involved.
CA community members also took other steps to engage with their communities. For example, CA’s Sunrise hub organized a Wide Awake action in Boston, MA on October 24, in which Sunrisers decorated the Massachusetts State House plaza with topical art. The purpose of this action was to remind the community of what Sunrise believes is important: voting rights and Green New Deal supporters. Sasha, who is also one of CA’s Sunrise hub coordinators, mentions that because Boston is a relatively liberal area, the purpose of this action was to reinforce to voters that, in the views of Sunrise, “this generation of leaders has failed us [Generation Z].” Many people shared this viewpoint and were motivated to act by a sense of disappointment in the current leaders. Among most, one theme was clear: the results of the election, while important, will not stop the fight for rights in the slightest.