Yes, You Can Stay Socially Distant And Be Politically Active

Guest op-ed from youth activist Isabella O’Connor of Des Moines.

In a post-caucus and coronavirus-ridden state, Iowans are struggling to remain, or become, politically active.

Many people who were already engaged in politics, or looking for a new hobby while social distancing, are having trouble discovering how to be involved. Yet now more than ever, people are realizing the importance and power of political engagement.

Americans’ lives are being drastically impacted by politics every moment. In a matter of one week, I was laid off of my part-time job, sent home from my freshman year of college and denied unemployment benefits.

The future was uncertain and I needed a sense of hope while in quarantine, so I began to get politically involved from home. Fortunately, we can all do our part, no matter how big or small, to remain politically active while social distancing. Our communities will come out stronger, more unified and healthier because of it.

Advertise on Iowa Starting Line

Here are some things you can do from home:

Sign up to virtually volunteer for your favorite candidate(s)! 

Iowa has a phenomenal slate of progressive candidates up and down the ballot. If you have spare time, sign up to volunteer to send texts or phone bank for your favorite. This can usually be done by reaching out to the campaign on their social media accounts. Typically, a campaign staffer will connect you with a link where you are able to call and text potential voters. Even sending five quick texts can make a difference! My recommendation is to sign up with a friend and send texts while on FaceTime!

Request your absentee ballot!

In order to keep our fellow Iowans healthy, the smartest and safest decision we can make is to cast our votes in the June primary election by mail. Lucky for us, this is an option in Iowa! You can download a request for an absentee ballot online through the Iowa Secretary of State’s website to mail in.

The request form must be received by your county auditor’s office by 5 p.m. May 22, 11 days before the June 2 primary election. If the request is for the Nov. 3 general election, the deadline to request a ballot by mail is Oct. 24, 10 days before the election. Request it now to make sure your voice will be heard!

Donate money to candidates or causes you believe in! 

Although they may not be knocking on your door every day, campaigns and issue groups are still out there, and a lot of them are struggling. If you are able, consider donating to a candidate you believe in. It can make a world of a difference to the staff, candidate and movement as we all attempt to figure out the best way to elect Democrats up and down the ballot without in-person field operations. Most candidates and organizations have a donation link on their website.

Attend online events!

Many campaigns, politicians, activists, organizations and political groups are hosting online events and trainings. These are amazing opportunities to become a more knowledgeable activist from your couch.

One upcoming event is from Our Voices Iowa. They are hosting a digital summit where you learn how to build skills to make your power heard via trainings on lobbying for your rights, running for office and relational organizing. The workshops run April 5-9, with a Digital Day of Action on April 14. You can choose from the sessions that meet your passions and fit your schedule. It will be held on Zoom. You will receive the log-in after you register! You can register here.

Call your lawmakers!

Many Iowans are struggling and need relief. Call your local, state and federal politicians and advocate for people and small businesses battling financial, health and wellness struggles. The U.S. Senate and House switchboard phone number is (202) 224-3121. The Iowa House number is (515) 281-3221. The Iowa Senate number is (515) 281-3371.

Educate yourself!

There is a lifetime supply of podcasts, YouTube videos, documentaries, articles, books, movies and other resources to learn from. Whenever I feel myself getting restless, I turn on a documentary while I clean or do laundry, a podcast while I cook or go for a walk, and try to read a few articles a day to stay informed. 

For a lot of us, these are really difficult times. However, I feel fortunate that there are countless opportunities to remain politically active in times that can feel hopeless. For me, being politically active makes me a happier, smarter and better person. I hope you all can feel the same uplifting feeling I feel, even from home.


By Isabella O’Connor
Posted 3/30/20

5 Comments on "Yes, You Can Stay Socially Distant And Be Politically Active"

  • After the Iowa Caucus fiasco many are taking a well deserved break from politics. Can’t believe Biden(ugh) is the front-runner. Didn’t trust him back in ’87 when he was caught plagarizing and don’t trust the bum now. Perhaps check on some of your shut in neighbors and make sure they are doing okay. Not everything needs to be political – plenty of good deeds can be done outside of the political arena.

  • In order to deny Trump a second term, those of us who are Bernie supporters will still need to vote for Biden if he is the nominee. We are in a national emergency, and not because of COVID-19. I urge everyone to do so. In 2016, I literally held my nose when I darkened the little oval for the presidential race, but it had to be done to keep Trump out. With Biden in the White House and a Democratic Senate , we on the Left will have more space politically to move Bernie’s agenda.

  • Hi Kim

    I’m a proud lifelong Democrat(and a former county chair) but not sure I could ever hold my nose and vote for Biden – will have to see how the DNC treats Bernie this time around. Hopefully Biden won’t be the nominee – he’s a hot mess.

  • Pat, while we may not have any more control over the presidential primary, we do still have the opportunity to get progressive change in motion in other levels of government by electing progressives. Politics is fatiguing, but I hope you’ll vote in the June 2nd primary (and for Kimberly Graham for US Senate 😉 )!

  • Hi Miranda- Yes, I plan to support Kimberly Graham for US Senate, am certainly not going to support the carpetbagger from Minnesota.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *