By Sarah Jane Knoy

A grassroots organizer reflects on (and complains about) the impact of the “First in the Nation” Primary on life in the Granite State

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PRIMARY 2020

This is my third primary season in New Hampshire. After 2016, I swore I would leave the state before the next primary came around. Why? The primary can suck all the air out of the room, especially if one works in community organizing. Our usual leaders and members may be too busy following their favorite candidate around to come to meetings. Or, they may be attempting to shake hands with every candidate in a crowded field. Or, people of faith and good will are just so turned off by the hateful partisan environment created by some campaigns that they simply stay home and tune out!

So, you may ask, why I am still here, writing this blog?

2020 feels different for two reasons, first because this year GSOP is in partnership with our national affiliate Faith in Action on the LOVE 2020 Project. The LOVE 2020 Project sets up meetings between faith leaders and primary candidates to ask them to “De Fund Hate and Invest in Love”. These meetings flip the script of the usual candidate “forum” or “town hall”. No stump speeches allowed. Rather, the candidates listen to stories of real people’s lives and respond to those stories from their values. So far the meetings have been fun and productive. More specifics about these individual meetings will be forthcoming.

The second reason this season feels different is the campaign staff. This year the campaigns (most of them anyway) are chock full of young black and brown staffers. The staff are enthusiastic and engaging and rather than simply demanding access to our people – the usual tactic from previous primaries – this new breed of staff eagerly offer to help with community projects. Staff from the Buttigieg, Beto, Booker, Warren, and Castro campaigns have attended NH Interfaith Prayer Vigils for Immigrant families and some even joined in our Solidarity Walk for Immigrant Justice last month!

I look forward to sharing my experiences from this primary season with you through this blog. Stay tuned for more details from LOVE 2020!

#LOVE2020 #petebuttigieg #betoorourke #corybooker #elizabethwarren #juliancastro #GSOP

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Who really supports ending deportation and detention?

Members of the Granite State Organizing Project joined up with our sister organization in Faith in Action, Essex County Community Organization (ECCO), the American Friends Service Committee, Indivisible, and others to bring the fight against unjust detention and deportation of our immigrant neighbors to the NH Democratic Party Convention last Saturday.

What a madhouse! Some of the campaign staffers had gotten there at 3am to claim the best corner or street side location. The entire 3-block area was a cacophony of candidate chants: “Mayor Pete, Mayor Pete” “ I say Julian – you say Castro” and “Bi-den, Bi-den” echoed through and around the arena, blending into meaningless background noise punctured by the occasional banging on a Bernie drum.

Our De-Fund Hate team got a great response, most of the deletes eagerly defied the ban on stickers to take our “Defund Hate: no Cages no Camps” message into the convention.

Things got fun when the ECCO folks brought their child size coffin to the door of the convention, set it down and began the funeral for all who have died at the border. The police soon materialized and insisted that we move on which we did … after we finished the funeral!

We spent the next half hour parading the coffin around the convention center chanting our support for immigrants. The Beto kids were on the ball, they immediately stopped their Beto chants and joined ours “No Hate – no Fear, Immigrants are Welcome Here”, and the Warren campaign jumped in right away too.

Sadly, none of the 19 candidates made immigration a top priority once they got inside the convention. What will it take to get the Primary candidates to live up to the values we claim to hold so dear?

Next up…….which candidate takes the best selfies?

#LOVE2020 #petebuttigieg  #juliancastro #joebiden #berniesanders #elizabethwarren #NHDP #GSOP

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Next up…….which candidate takes the best selfies?

If you are following this blog, you know that Granite State Organizing Project has been setting up meeting with all the presidential Primary candidates to ask them to “divest from  hate and invest in love.”   What does this mean to us?  It means to stop the increased militarization at the border and to end the unjust detention and deportation of our immigrant neighbors and to invest in things that make our communities stronger education, affordable housing, health care and the environment.

We are not endorsing any candidate or any party and nothing in this blog is a reliable indicator of how the author will vote when February rolls around.

So, which candidate takes the best selfies? Cory Booker, without a doubt! We had a great meeting with the candidate about a month ago, right after the NH State Democratic Convention.  We had a good crowd of 50 people in a local Manchester Church. We asked our questions, he answered.  Senator Booker seemed most passionate about his veganism and the climate. I, as a former Greenpeace staffer and lifelong vegetarian appreciated this!

His stories about living in a poor neighborhood and the violence that young Black men experience was truly moving and felt genuine. He answered our question about using executive power within the first 100 days of taking office to put a stop to the unjust deportations and detentions in Spanish, proving at least some level of fluency.

But, he really knocked my socks off when selfie time came!  I was going to skip the selfie in favor of a group picture and getting out of there on time, but he grabbed my phone and snapped! I really appreciated the way he made sure my friend Monyroor got a photo too.

I was also impressed that Senator Booker made sure to tell me he knows my counterpart in his home state of  New Jersey and his expressed belief in the efficacy of community organizing.

#LOVE2020 #Booker

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LOVE2020 meets Beto & Tulsi

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua is a beautiful old building. It is centrally located on top of a small rise near downtown. A number of presidential primary campaigns have rented this space for their town hall meetings, which is great way for this wonderful congregation to get a little extra money. The LOVE 2020 Campaign has also had a few events here, including a July meeting with Beto O’Rourke and a September meeting with Tulsi Gabbard.

I must confess, before meeting Beto I didn’t really know who he was. I thought he was just some guy who almost won an election in Texas. (Sorry!)  Wow, does he ever light up a room! It is hard to pinpoint the source exactly but he has great energy and charisma. He speaks pretty good Spanish, too.

At our meeting with Beto, our team of leaders shared stories about the impact of draconian immigration policies on their families and communities. Beto listened and answered from his heart – in Spanish! We were all impressed. And, as I have said before, he has one of the hardest working, most earnest and committed staff I ‘ve ever seen. There is always someone from the Beto campaign at our Immigrant Solidarity Team events.

We had fairly short notice for our LOVE 2020 meeting with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, so our team was small, but also mighty. We had the same questions for her we bring to all the candidates: “Will you use your executive power to put an end to unjust deportations and detentions of our immigrant neighbors within your first 100 days in office?” and “Do you love us enough to divest from militarization of the border and invest in our communities?” Although we may not agree 100% on the issues, Congresswoman Gabbard comes across as a person with rock solid integrity.

Though meeting with the Presidential Primary candidates, promoting these meetings, and writing about them in this blog do NOT constitute endorsement of a political party or candidate, the LOVE 2020 team is grateful to O’Rourke, Gabbard, and all the other Presidential Primary candidates who have made time to meet with us to discuss values critical to the governing of our nation.

Up next, conversations with the “front runners”.

#LOVE2020, #betoorourke, #tulsigabbard