There is a nonzero possibility that Donald J. Trump will be the next President of the United States of America.
It has been entertaining, up until now, to relish what a time it is to be alive in the age of a Trump candidacy. The hair, the insults and the impending self-destruction of the Republican Party have served as easy banter at dinner and a convenient pivot for liberals who find themselves on opposite sides of the Democratic primary.
But the days of laughing off Trump are over, and with the xenophobic billionaire now barreling toward a string of wins on Super Tuesday, it’s time to start thinking seriously about how to take him down.
My suggestion? Do more than just post Facebook statuses. Go work for a Democrat.
That could mean doing traditional fieldwork. Though the hours can be long, this kind of one-on-one voter contact ultimately makes or breaks a campaign. In Ohio, Virginia, Florida and other swing states, mobilizing only a handful of communities could tilt the election and seal the fate of our country for the next four to eight years. And we need competent people to do this work. Suffice it to say that some field organizers are better at their jobs than others, and progressives need skilled on-the-ground staffers to complement candidate speeches with personal conversations.
But fieldwork is only one small part of the modern campaign. If voter engagement doesn’t seem like your cup of tea, consider using your skills elsewhere. Finance teams manage large databases of donors and run sophisticated analyses on how to raise money effectively and spend it prudently. Digital teams need an army of coders to bring progressive campaigns into a new era online. Communications teams need clever speechwriters and press aides familiar with journalism.
In fact, there’s no reason to limit yourself to the presidential race. If, heaven forbid, Trump takes the Oval Office hostage, a strong Democratic Senate can block his most abhorrent policies. States like Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Ohio, Florida and New Hampshire will have close races that could flip control of the chamber. Each of these will need smart staffers to bring home a victory. Strong Senatorial campaigns don’t just put more progressives in Congress; They also help boost the eventual Democratic presidential nominee if they run smoothly. Try stopping Trump this way.
Even much smaller state Senate and state House races in your home state need energetic college students to give them a boost. These low-level incumbent Republicans may not like Trump now, but they’ll eventually come around when they realize they need to support their nativist nominee. They’ll twist, they’ll turn, they’ll bend over backwards to convince themselves that somehow a person who wants to shred the Constitution and ban all Muslims from entering the country is anywhere close to qualified for the presidency of the United States. But they’ll do it. And as scary as that is, they’ll get away with it if we don’t run strong campaigns against them.
Each of these campaigns deserves your help simply because of the stakes of this election. But on a personal level, these campaigns can also be life-changing experiences. There just won’t be many times in your life when you’ll be so free to work on a campaign in such a meaningful election year. I’ll never forget the moment, after months of knocking on doors for him, that Barack Obama won his re-election bid in 2012. The same goes for 2014, when the Yale Dems and I helped Dan Malloy beat back a well-funded campaign against him and cling to the governor’s office here in Connecticut. These memories will last a lifetime, and you’ll never get them by allowing a few tweets to be your only contribution to stopping Trump.
So if you’re a senior still looking for a job, consider a five-month gig at a campaign after graduation. For underclassmen, call up your state party. Ask for a job. Campaigns up and down the ballot will need volunteers and interns this summer to do substantive work to build a firewall against Trump and his party in all 50 states.
Decades from now, our grandchildren will ask us about the time Donald Trump ran for President. They’ll either be mystified at how Americans let him bully his way into the White House, or they’ll be grateful for the hordes of young people who stood up to hateful rhetoric and racist policy, and did the hard work necessary to make Trump a mere footnote in American history.
Join that movement. Work for a Democratic campaign.
Tyler Blackmon is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College. His column runs on alternate Mondays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .