MELANIE ROTHSCHILD IS NOT NORMALLY ONE TO STUMP FOR A CANDIDATE, MUCH LESS FOR THOSE OUTSIDE OF HER VOTING DISTRICT. BUT—THESE ARE NOT NORMAL TIMES.
To fight against the current administration, Melanie Rothschild was determined to help flip the 25th Congressional District in the Santa Clarita Valley, a longtime Republican stronghold.
“Election night 2016 seemed like it was the ultimate stunner, but actually—it wasn’t,” Rothschild said. “What’s really grabbed me in every direction since then, is the shocking compliance on the part of the Republican Congress and all those who support them. Minute-by-minute, I am incredulous that these practices of scapegoating and outright racist calls are witnessed in broad daylight—at this point, almost without novelty, I feel like I want to walk around shouting ‘This is not normal,’ ‘This is not the United States,’ ‘What’s going on everyone?’ on a constant basis.’”
Which is why, since September, Rothschild has been driving north to the Santa Clarita Valley on Sundays to canvass door-to-door for Democratic Congressional candidate Katie Hill.
“So, turns out that these days, driving an hour on Sunday morning and ringing stranger’s doorbells is pretty much small potatoes compared to how I’ve been feeling for the past two years,” she said.
Rothschild, who grew up a solid Democrat in the San Fernando Valley, is fully committed to canvassing right up until election day, when she will work with Katie Hill’s campaign office on a program called “The Last Weekend” (thelastweekend.org) known to be the most effective way to “flip” a district.
“Topangans are starting to go out there in weekend posses,” Rothschild said. “Door-to-door canvassing campaigns have been proven to work in swaying election results. This is something you can do to make an impact and at a time when it’s never been more critical…this is the time to do things that feel a little uncomfortable.”
To further gain support to “flip the House,” Rothschild and her husband, Larry Garf, hosted more than 40 friends and neighbors at their Topanga home on Saturday, Oct. 13, to inspire them to help Hill in her bid to oust Republican Steve Knight.
“We invited friends and neighbors whom we know are like-minded,” Rothschild said. “This was not an event to try to convince people to change their thinking, but rather to talk specifically with people who want to support Democrats in the midterms.”
During the evening, everyone enjoyed a “yummy” Topanga potluck; the Zetz Klezmer Ensemble performed and then, folks sang “This Land is Your Land” during an evening designed to lift spirits.
“We put up signs around the room, some with quotes to ideologically mark our united values, and some which were pragmatic about “Swing Left” and the “Last Weekend,” Rothschild said.
During the evening, Rothschild read an inspiring speech and encouraged her friends and neighbors to consider campaigning for Katie Hill until election day.
“We no longer have to speculate about just what would happen under extreme right-wing control,” she read. “In just two years, we’ve seen the courts undermined, the environment brought beyond the brink, public gun rampages characterized as a necessary side-effect of a free people. and an American president sticking up for Nazi’s and foreign enemies, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. We knew it would be bad, but I don’t know if we thought it would get this bad, this fast.”
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
After the house party, it was back on the road on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 20-21, travelling north to the Katie Hill headquarters, this time with backup!
“Larry, my husband, went canvassing door-to-door with me for the first time on Saturday,” Rothschild wrote. “Canvassing is way out of his comfort zone. The first door we knocked on Saturday was a winner—solid and enthusiastic Democrats!”
She also reported that Hill’s campaign headquarters was bustling as the election draws near and she herself planned to spend the next two weeks and weekends canvassing and phone banking.
“I have had so many experiences in canvassing, you have no idea what’s going to be behind that door,” Rothschild said. “There are Republicans who basically hate all liberals and shut the door. Then, there are those who disagree but they are cordial; they say, ‘Sorry, we’re Republicans.’ There are some who say they lean right but are not happy, so that is an opportunity to have a conversation. Most people want pretty much the same thing but they are scared.’”
Rothschild wrote later that “study after study shows that the most effective way to get people to vote is by having conversations with them in the four days before Election Day,” which is Saturday, Nov. 3 through Tuesday, Nov. 6.
To accomplish that, Swing Left (www.swingleft.org) is organizing an effort to recruit the largest grassroots army ever assembled before a midterm election.
“Each of us has the power to make a big difference in a key race by talking to voters,” Rothschild wrote, closing with Swing Left’s key slogan, “Don’t just vote this year—volunteer!”