The Native Vote Challenge begins today. You already know the drill: It’s the same as the Winter Challenge or the Ice Bucket Challenge. Only instead of shivering, we need to register and then make certain to vote.
That means challenging your friends to do the same. Then your daughters and sons. Especially your adult children because this is a fast growing segment of Indian country and their votes will make all the difference.
We already know that Social Media is a powerful fundraising tool. There’s nothing better than folks asking their friends for donations or to volunteer.
But this is the first election when Social Media is tested as a voting tool.
Will it work? Can our Facebook posts change the world?
Republicans think so. The party released a new voter app this week based on the Ice Bucket Challenge. The idea is that people will download the app and then let them know when they’ve voted (early voting may be the single most important election lever this year).
The Native Vote Challenge already has a great start, consider last year’s winter challenge as practice. Make a video: I am voting because, challenge someone (or three) by name and then post it on Facebook.
Tuesday the National Congress of American Indians released a 20-second video from President Brian Cladoosby: “Every day I see another reason that every Native vote counts. I challenge every Native American to register to vote and make their voices heard.”
So take that vote challenge – and tell your story.
Start on Facebook (where there is a Native Vote Challenge page). Like the page, so you can get updates. Then grab your phone and make a video or a meme. Give your own reasons for voting. Challenge your friends, the ones that cannot be bothered, and ask them to register before the deadline (in many states that’s October 5).
I gave my ten* reasons for every Native to vote. And will again in my own 60 second video.
But what’s cool: Your reasons are probably different. And just as important.
I hear from friends who say they don’t want to vote because it’s an act that affirms U.S. sovereignty. But voting is only one aspect of federal and state authority over our lives. Some of our brothers and sisters serve in the military, volunteering their lives if need be. We all see our paychecks shrink because those same governments determine how much of our money we will share through taxes. And, all too often, those governments determine which one of us will lose freedom because of a broken law.
The only way, the only way, to limit the authority of state and federal governments is to organize and vote.
This week is The Big One because you can’t vote if you don’t register. So take the Native Vote Challenge. Share your post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Challenge those who should vote, the ones who will fool pollsters and candidates.
There are two social media hashtags for Native Vote, #NativeVoteChallenge2014 and #OneLouder. I like them both.
I am especially fond of #OneLouder and here’s why: The reference is, of course, to the cult film, Spinal Tap and amps that go to “eleven” because, well, it’s one louder.
That’s my metaphor for this election. Indian country needs that extra push, the vote that’s one more, the race that’s decided because we participated, the vote that’s one louder.
Mark Trahant holds the Atwood Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For up-to-the-minute posts, download the free Trahant Reports app for your smart phone or tablet.