By Ilana Strauss
In June, the Trump campaign predicted a massive showing at its first rally in months. Online, the campaign had received over a million requests to attend the rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and organizers even rented an extra outdoor space to manage overflow. But when the day of the rally arrived, only 6,200 attendees actually showed up.
What caused the discrepancy? One popular theory involves TikTok teens and K-pop fans. According to participants behind the social media campaign, these groups spread the word to sign up en masse for Trump’s rally. In theory, their efforts could mislead campaign organizers about the rally’s popularity. The plan apparently worked. Trump arrived to find a depressingly small crowd, and teens around the globe virtually high-fived.
Over the course of American history, plenty of people living in the U.S. have been excluded from participating as voters in the democratic political process. Today, minors, immigrants (who paid $400+ billion in taxes in 2017), and 6 million former convicts can’t vote or run for office. Even the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, was recently diminished as the Supreme Court invalidated key parts of the bill in 2013, affecting actual eligible citizens.
But as TikTok teens have shown, those who can’t vote can still get creative and wield enormous influence. No matter your status, you may be able to use one or all of these methods to affect the outcome this November:
1. Campaign. Just because you can’t vote doesn’t mean you can’t help get someone elected. You’re perfectly free to phone bank, knock on doors, hand out fliers, and do whatever you can for your candidate. This could mean campaigning for candidates running at the federal, state, and local level.
2. Donate. You don’t need to be a corporate billionaire to make a difference. Especially when it comes to supporting candidates in small, local races, policies up for issue referendums, non-partisan groups that enable voter registration, and this year’s trend of buying stamps to support the U.S. Postal Service — Your donation can make an impact. In 2019, before a clear Democratic presidential nominee was apparent, small donations (along with big money) played a front-and-center role in the 2020 Presidential race for candidates on both sides.
3. Spend Wisely. How you spend your money matters. A significant number of corporations are connected to corporate PACs that donate directly to candidates, parties, or lobbying efforts. Do the research to figure out what brands align with your voting record — you wouldn’t want your hard-earned dollars going to fund political candidates you don’t support. Plus, you can let the companies you do or don’t end up spending your money with know how you feel about their Corporate PAC activity by tweeting at them, contacting them directly, or signing petitions.
4. Communicate. Campaigns succeed by spreading information, and you can play a role by spreading GIFs, posts, podcasts, and other forms of media to support a candidate. Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s campaign, for instance, rose from obscurity in 2019 and went viral thanks to a base of supporters that created massive quantities of memes. At its heart, politics is a war of words among regular people. The whole point of advertising and campaigning is to get ordinary citizens to think and talk with one another. So share your opinions with friends and family. They’re more likely to listen to you than a paid advertisement anyway.
*Just make sure to research the information you choose to share. Nothing hits your credibility harder than being someone who spreads misinformation.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau Only about 153 million people are registered to vote in the U.S., but about 328 million live in the country. Just because you can’t vote doesn’t mean your voice can’t be heard. Politicians and big businesses may get a lot of limelight, but the masses are the real power. And no matter your age or legal status, you’re a member of the masses. So get out there and fight for the future you want.
Ilana Strauss is a guest editorial contributor for Clueyconsumer.com. She is currently a freelance journalist, with her work being featured in publications such as The Atlantic, New York Magazine, The Weather Channel, Travel + Leisure, and Popular Science. In addition to her work as a journalist, Ilana hopes to fight the spread of misinformation by creating her own company that measures an article’s factual accuracy.