Every time I check the latest updates on the 2016 Presidential race, I am always brought back to the reality of how our election system actually works.
Do you remember whom all the progressives were talking about earlier this year? Elizabeth Warren. Remember her? See, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party gave up on her months ago once she made her supporters realize she actually isn’t going to run for President. So for a while there, all we had was Hillary Clinton and we were content with the idea to rally behind what would be another historical Presidential election in the making. But then out of the blue came Bernie Sanders. And now, everyone I speak to has a fundamental conflict between supporting Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the next election. Let’s face it gays, Corporate-based super PACs will raise the majority of the funds for both candidates (roughly $5 Billion is projected for both). But citizen-based super PACs (such as the Pride PAC) that represent hardworking American voters will play an even larger role in the 2016 election. And not only will union PACS and citizen PACs be majorly influential, citizens in general will be more powerful then ever due to the reach of social media.
Take a look at the analytics behind this meme that the outside advocacy group The People For Bernie Sanders 2016 performed since 9/11:
Those numbers are outrageous and we are still 14 months away from Election Day.
This gives us confidence and hope. This will be an election where the same people that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 will still vote Democrat, and the same amount of people that gave $10-$25 will do the same. Despite Sanders denying contributions from Super PACs, if he becomes the Nominee, the Super PACs will raise and spend for or against him whether he likes it or not. Hillary is guaranteed to raise the funds, but like in 2008, half of Obama’s $600 million worth of campaign contributions came from donations of $30 or less. American voters will not only play a huge part in going to the polls on election day, but also a major part in how much money the Democratic Nominee can raise. This puts the American people as the largest Super PAC of them all and with this knowledge, here are 6 easy ways we are seeing the LGBT community use the power of the American vote to help elect a pro-LGBT President in 2016:
1. Hosting Dinner Parties
It’s not difficult to have 5-10 friends over for a ‘Homemade Meal for Hillary’ night at your home and we are seeing dinner parties for candidates popping up everywhere! You can do this once or once every 3 months depending upon how much support you’d like to offer a candidate of your choice. As part of contributing to the meal and the campaign, most charge $5/person to attend. This raises anywhere from $25 - $50 for the candidate of their choice. That amount of money goes a long way and if you do this every quarter up and to the election, you’ll raise upwards of $250 for Hillary or Bernie, which is a lot of money.
Think of it in this way, If 5,000 of the fans of Pride PAC threw an average of 2 dinner parties leading up to the election, we could theoretically raise over $250,000 for a candidate, by just throwing dinner parties!
2. Hosting Debate Salons
Debate Salons (or debate parties) are a lot of fun. I hosted a formal debate salon in San Francisco in 2012 for the first general election debate between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney and we had and incredible turnout. This doesn’t have to be a big affair, anywhere from 5-50 people make great debate salons and can be a solid source of community discussion and debate about the issues that mean the most to the people you care most about. Also, instead of charging entry to the salon, you can place a tip jar on a table where the salon is being held (can be in a living room or in a hotel conference room, anything works!) and ask kindly 6-10 times throughout the night to contribute to the debate tip jar and have them write which candidate they want to win on the bill. You can then send that contribution to that candidate once the salon is over. Drinking games are always fun at these, but watch out…drinking every time Donald Trump says “China” will due you in before the night has even started.
There will be over 20 debates between now and election day (both primary and general), so the opportunities to host a debate salon for your inner circle of gays and gay allies are numerous. Imagine if 10,000 Pride PAC members hosted 5 salons and raised $50 at each salon. We’d raise a good $50,000 just from hosting debate parties!
3. Holding Tweet-Ups
If you’ve never been to a tweet-up, then you’re missing out on the geekiest networking party on the planet, but it’s still super fun! LGBT people are getting groups of people together (usually more than 10) and establish an event themed hashtag that has the candidate’s name in it. For example:
They usually make it something fun and catchy, but not too long so people can actually take advantage of the 140-character limit when tweeting. The tweetup hosts encourage all guests to discuss the candidate’s issues and tweet every 5-10 minutes as part of the discussion. If you want to do this yourself, you can also hold a Q&A with asking the room a question, ask guests to answer using the designated hashtag. The moderator can then read out answers and form a discussion, or the other way around where guests can ask questions and the moderator can choose from scrolling the hashtag. It’s super fun and gets the word out too hundreds of thousands of people!
4. Hosting/Attending Pride PAC Meetups
Meetups are simple social events where you get to know fellow LGBT supporters in your area. These are super casual and usually happen at a local pub or someone’s house or local business. While these tend to be a little less focused on fundraising and more on conversation, this is a great way to keep the conversation going when supporting a pro-gay candidate in 2016. We’re seeing LGBT individuals holding meetups all across the country on all sorts of issues.
5. Joining the Pride PAC
Once we announced our new initiative, we've had droves of new members ready to fight! This year, Pride PAC intends to do what we did in 2012 for President Obama and really invigorate the LGBT community to participate in the election of our next president. It’s essential that we not only raise our voices, but also collectively put our money where our mouth is and actually have a seat at the table. Unfortunately in today’s election climate, the only way to get that seat is to buy it. How much does that seat cost? Sometimes $32,000 and if you don’t have the money, you’re not getting heard. We at the Pride PAC believe this is the single defining reason why we are in this financial mess, our politicians are bought and sold by big business and not enough citizen-based advocacy groups like us are able to compete. This year, we intend to change that.
It is our goal to sign up at least 100,000 members by election day. Membership costs as little as $5/month and contributions not only go toward advocating your pic for Prez, but also buys a seat at the table for our LGBT counsel to hold our politicians to their word and fight for legislation supporting full equality. The power of having over $6M+ a year to directly advocate toward the spread of equal rights and also having a coalition of 100,000+ American voters starts to echo the start of a new type of community, a new type of organizational power…maybe even a new party. Find out more about the awesome membership benefits, how exactly contributions are spent and more on the Pride PAC membership page.
These are just five of many ways the gay community can get involved in the 2016 elections and make a real difference. At the Pride PAC, we believe that the spread of information and knowledge is how we progress real change. If more LGBT individuals participate in our system (both fiscally and vocally), we will have more power than the handful of billionaires than run our system today and finally have the seat at the table that we deserve. Why not start now?
Do you have ideas on how the LGBT community can help elect a pro-equality President in 2016? Let us know in the comments.