It's hard being a Democrat in a red state. Trust me, I know: Labeled a bleeding heart liberal by my peers before I even knew what that was (it's true), I watched my home state of Georgia seem to turn redder with each election. Often times it felt pretty hopeless. But there was one thing I could do to make me feel less like the blue man out in an otherwise incredibly red state, and that was volunteering. Volunteering in a red state to further Democratic policies may seem like a moot point, but it really isn't — not only could I build a sense of camaraderie around my fellow liberal peers, I also got to see a strategic plan for moving the state away from its hard-conservatism.
Often times, red states are in dire need of people to step up and volunteer for these liberal causes. Strapped for resources and funding, these causes — whether they take the form of clinics, nonprofits, or so on — frequently don't have the manpower to keep afloat. They rely on volunteers in a state that drains their funding and, in some instance, would rather see them close their doors for good.
So though it may feel overwhelming at times, volunteering in a red state can make a significant impact. Here are few options for doing just that:
1. Volunteer For Your State's Democratic Party
Believe it or not, every state will have an official Democratic Party, no matter how red. Getting involved with your local state chapter is a great way to get an understanding for how the Democratic Party as a whole operates in a conservative area. And volunteering for them can mean a handful of things: canvassing, phone banking, attending chapter meetings, or even heading out to a bar for a local watch party.
2. Volunteer For An At-Risk Nonprofit
Volunteering for an at-risk, local nonprofit can make a huge difference. These nonprofits often rely on an army of volunteers to keep running, so while giving your time to a larger nonprofit is also great, these local ones may lack the funding to fully operate without your help. In Georgia, I volunteered for the Feminist Women's Health Center, an abortion clinic that also offers to train its volunteers in pro-choice, hands-on advocacy.
3. Canvass Local Democratic Causes
You've probably seen the people out on the sidewalks with a clipboard, asking if you care about X cause. Though this is often a thankless task, it can be a meaningful one. Theoretically, you'll canvass for Democratic causes, often in high traffic areas or by going door-to-door. But a word of advice (and caution) from someone who had many a door slammed in her face: make sure to canvass through legitimate channels. There are legitimate canvassing services, but do a bit of research to make sure your state's checks out (a quick Google search will do). And of course, oftentimes those local nonprofits need canvassers, so you can skip the third-party channel and canvass directly for the source.
4. Start A Democratic Party Club At Your School
If you're still in school, you could start a Democratic Party Club for you and your peers. Even my ultra-conservative high school had one, where we wrangled in the one Democratic teacher to be our sponsor. Admittedly, the club was small, but we still made an impact — we organized volunteer events and drives for liberal causes around our community. The High School Democrats of America has a great resource for getting a club started.
These are just a few ways to champion liberal causes in a conservative state. And just remember that even though it may seem like the red overshadows any traces of blue, it is always worth it to give your time if you're able.