Today, we’re featuring two of our youngest canvassers! Matt and Jake are twin brothers from Chapel Hill who are sophomores at Durham Academy. Theirs is a family that has always talked openly about current events – Jake says he has been incredibly interested in politics since age 11.
In their free time, Matt is a saxophonist for the jazz band at DA. Jake plays Ultimate Frisbee for the school and enjoys club Frisbee in the summer.
Because they can’t drive yet, the brothers usually get a ride from their father to our canvasses. Then, they split up and knock doors with a new canvassing partner each time.
Read this fascinating Q&A with the Schwartz brothers – sure to inspire you to get involved with FLIP NC in these final days before the election!
How did you find out about FLIP NC?
Matt: Jake and I wanted to get involved in the midterm elections, and I knew that we could be most effective in local elections. I talked to my dad about this, and we found FLIP NC online. Jake and I read about the organization, looked into how we could help, and decided to start canvassing.
Jake: We knew that this would give us a chance to really make change.
What has surprised you most about canvassing?
Matt: It’s surprised me how easy it is to talk to people. Before I canvassed, I was worried it would be difficult to speak with strangers, especially about the touchy subject of politics. I have learned from canvassing that most people are happy and willing to talk, and they are usually very polite if they can’t.
Jake: What I have been surprised by most is how willing people are to listen and talk to us. Though many people do not answer their door because they are not home, those who do are always extremely respectful. People are always happy to listen to what we say, even the few conservatives we’ve run into.
Do you like to recruit a friend or relative to sign up to canvass with you or do you prefer to be paired with a stranger to add to the fun?
Matt: Jake and I always canvass at the same time, but we like to be paired with strangers, especially because neither of us can drive.
Jake: I really enjoy getting to canvass with other people. All the volunteers are very interesting and fun people to be around. I greatly enjoy getting to meet the other volunteers while creating positive change.
Have a funny story or touching moment to share? A conversation you remember?
Matt: This isn’t a specific moment, but I have loved the few times while canvassing when I talk to someone who is just as passionate as I am about the Democratic cause. When someone knows all the candidates and amendments on the ballot, it makes me happy to see that there are other people who care.
Jake: I remember talking to one woman about her son who was applying to college. This was very reminiscent of what we talk about in my house because my brother is a senior and is currently applying himself.
What's your top canvassing tip?
Jake: I would say just to not get down when people don’t answer the door. When people do answer, you have to be enthusiastic and excited to talk to them.
Matt: My top canvassing tip is to keep a nice balance between making a personal connection and talking about the important issues. You shouldn’t just stand there and say exactly what’s on the script without being kind and personal, but you also have to make sure you communicate the important messages of FLIP NC.
What is really motivating you to get involved? Obviously, you want to FLIP NC, but tell us a bit about the "why."
Jake: I want to get Democrats elected who will have far better policies for the average American and the world than Republicans do. Republicans cut taxes for the wealthy and reduce environmental regulations. These policies only benefit the rich and certain corporations. I am canvassing to help Americans and the world as a whole.
Matt: I’m motivated to get involved by a variety of liberal issues that I care about. I know that more Democrats winning to the state government will help the people of North Carolina. This could also help the country as a whole because the Republicans in the state legislature are able to draw maps that dramatically favor Republicans. If there are more Democrats elected to the state government, they could stop this Republican rigging of the system, meaning that Democrats in North Carolina can elect more representatives to the U.S. House, which I believe would help the American people.
How are you feeling about the 2018 election? Optimistic?
Matt: I am feeling somewhat optimistic about the midterms. On the national scale, I think Democrats are in a strong position to take the House, but I think the Senate is pretty unlikely. In North Carolina, I certainly don’t know what will happen, but I think the efforts of FLIP NC and other similar groups will help to make Democrats have a good shot at winning some extra seats.
Jake: I am feeling optimistic about the election in the House of Representatives, but I do not feel very optimistic about taking back the Senate.
Who do you admire in politics?
Matt: I most admire in politics Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. These are two incredible and influential senators who represent the ideas and values of the left. They work hard every day to craft and push forward policies that help the American people, and these are policies that I strongly agree with. I personally hope one of them gets elected president in 2020.
Jake: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. They support and fight for policies like Medicare for All that help the American people.
What would you say to someone who is feeling totally dejected by our current state of politics?
Jake: I would tell them that they totally have the right to be dejected but that there is still hope. If Democrats can retake the House and Senate, then they can help to institute policies that help people. It is still worth fighting for Democrats on a local and national scale.
Matt: I would tell them that as bad as many elected Republicans are, including Trump, there are many incredible progressive Democrats working to enact policies that help Americans. I understand why people are dejected – it can sometimes seem like nothing will ever change for the better in Washington, but if the left gives up, then Republicans will truly have won.
Tell us about a political moment that inspired you, whether it was a personal conversation, a speech given by a president, or a recent “blue wave” moment.
Matt: One political moment that inspired me was when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her primary in New York’s 14th Congressional district. This was a remarkable feat by a progressive Democratic activist who spoke about leftist policies she believed in. She is one of relatively few national politicians who does not take money from corporate political action committees, which is a quality I greatly admire in a politician. She will almost certainly win the general election in November, and she will be one of the youngest people in Congress.
Jake: I was greatly inspired when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won. Even though Joe Crowley has been in politics for a long time, in my mind, he does not always represent what a true Democrat should be. She stands more for populist ideas that help the working class.