Once again, America’s eyes are fixed on Ohio as our state regains its battleground status and begins early voting in the countdown to November 3. A 30,000-foot-view shows former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump in a neck-to-neck race. But a closer look on the ground shows an intricate web of family, friend and neighbor relationships that may be turning the tide enough for Biden to win out over Trump’s broken promises.
The media paints Ohio as a grim, bygone state where the white working class reigns under the shadow of shuttered factories. But the reality is much more colorful. When a 28-year-old gay, Black son of two former GM factory workers from Dayton who went bankrupt, a 30-year-old Filipina immigrant organizer and recent Ohio transplant who is voting in her first-ever presidential election, and her 84-year-old Italian Catholic lifelong Republican neighbor from the Cincinnati suburbs who is voting for Biden this year, start talking and listening to each other—that’s where the power lies to turn this election into a referendum against everything Trump stands for.
That’s what I and other organizers like me have been doing all over the state. Our strategy is simple. Unable to knock on doors because of the virus, and instead of calling or texting strangers, we conduct conversations with our friends, family and neighbors—holding our own networks accountable when it comes to voting. Using an app called OutVote, we’re able to remain physically distant while reaching those closest to us and recruit others to join Zoom-based outreach parties.