Collin Hubbard is a field representative of the Progressive Turnout Project, and he has a message for voters: This election is about American values.
MICHIGAN—Every election, I vote to protect the Constitution and to create a more equitable, sustainable America. This election, I’ve taken on a greater role as a field representative for Progressive Turnout Project—having one-on-one conversations with inconsistent voters across Michigan, helping them connect the issues impacting their daily lives to the choices on the ballot, and giving them the information they need to turn out and make their voices heard.
I was compelled to take action because, as someone raised in rural Michigan, I have witnessed the impacts globalization and corporate greed have had on our communities. I have seen jobs, families, and communities continually uprooted and undermined by a system that sees them as human capital rather than as human beings.
I was compelled to take action because, growing up in a Republican household, I was taught that freedom and personal liberties were only obtainable when we treated others with dignity and respect. Sadly, Republican leadership no longer seems to care for the dignity and respect of others, and all too often tramples on freedoms and civil liberties. In order to build a more durable and compassionate society, we must show respect, not contempt, to those who suffer the most. We must create as large an umbrella as possible while embracing American diversity and innovation.
In my conversations with voters across Michigan, I’m heartened to hear that so many of them share these same American values—regardless of their race, gender, or where they live. When I ask voters what is motivating them to vote this year, honesty and integrity are the two most frequent answers I get. Voters tell me they are tired of the lies. They want to move on from this president and return to some semblance of normalcy. They aren’t willing to turn a blind eye as the government separates children from their parents. They won’t stand for racial injustice. I’m encouraged by this “new normal” taking hold across Michigan and the country.
At Progressive Turnout Project, we talk to inconsistent voters—people who don’t vote in every election, and may be alienated from politics. They may also be targets for voter suppression, and deeply frustrated by constantly changing voting rules and requirements.
At first, many voters I talk to don’t believe that taking part in the political process is worth their time. It’s hard for many of them to see how their individual votes add up to form a collective voice. They often feel like the system is broken and that there is nothing they can do about it. It sounds like a dead end, but it’s really the start of a discussion we need to be having.
As a field representative, my job is to make sure voters feel heard. Acknowledging and listening to those who feel left out is an important part of bringing them back into the political process. It is an acknowledgement of their ability to make a change in the world around them. I ask those unconvinced voters what changes they’d like to see and their frustrations with the current levels of action (and inaction). The responses I get are intelligent and salient, and they spark detailed conversations about the real difference between the candidates on the ballot—from the presidential race all the way down to drain commissioner. These one-on-one conversations can make all the difference in turning a non-voter into a voter again.
As we head towards Election Day, my conversations make me hopeful about the outcome. One voter after another tells me how tired they are of the bigotry, misogyny, and blatant lies. They are tired of the hyper-partisanship in Washington; they are tired of the mudslinging, the dog whistles, and the ineffective governance of the last four years. They are aware of the fragility of our democracy and the need for diversity of thought. They are turning their tiredness and awareness into action: making a commitment and plan to vote, whether it’s voting early in person, through the mail, or on Election Day.
My colleagues tell me they’re having similar successful conversations with voters across Michigan, and the data is promising. Already, Progressive Turnout Project has gotten nearly 29,000 commitments to vote from Michigan voters—nearly three times Trump’s winning margin in 2016. With six days to go, well over 2 million Michiganders have returned their ballots—almost half of 2016’s voter turnout.
I am encouraged every day by my conversations with voters. Our voters are strong, compassionate, and selfless. I feel hopeful knowing that come Election Day, these conversations will have helped more Michiganders vote and played a part in bringing substantive change to our future.