Meet a FLIPster: Ben Dawson

Neighbors on Call has done a great job of spreading the word about our canvasses, resulting in fantastic FLIPsters like Ben, who works in manufacturing and lives in Chapel Hill.  

“I attended a magnet boarding high school with a pretty oppressive administration,” Ben says. “That’s where I learned to question authority and fight for what’s right.”

Once he went to college and throughout his 20s, he didn’t pay much attention to politics, but the age of social media put it all right in the spotlight and made the process and results of the process so much more tangible.

And, “Mike Brown’s death in Ferguson really lit the fire for me,” Ben says.  

Here, a Q&A with Ben. And be sure to join him at one of our upcoming canvasses!

What has surprised you most about canvassing? 

It goes a lot more quickly than I thought it would.


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? 

It’s fun to go with somebody you know, but it’s also been fun getting to know new people while I’m out canvassing.

If you've participated in other canvasses, how are FLIP NC canvasses different? 

They’re a little better organized, and it’s the first group I’ve seen that uses an app. That’s pretty slick. Y’all have better T-shirts, too.

Have a funny story or touching moment to share? Maybe something that happened while you were going door to door? A conversation you remember? 

I’ve run across a few people who said they’re shocked and ashamed of politics on a national level but were unaware of all of the gerrymandering and resulting underhanded, callous political machinations happening right here in NC.

What's your top canvassing tip? 

Ring the doorbell and stand back to give them room to step out and feel comfortable engaging with you.

What is really motivating you to get involved? Obviously, you want to FLIP NC, but tell us a bit about the "why."

After the gerrymandering power grab in our state and whatever the Russians were able to pull off on the national scale to help Trump and conservatives, I’m worried that midterms might be our last shot at democratic elections. The corporate and very wealthy folks in this country have taken all the power now, with Citizens United, for example. Our vote is the only power we have against that. We have to get as many people as we can to the polls to fight this. 

How are you feeling about the 2018 election? Optimistic? 

I am optimistic, but I don’t have much faith in people around me when it comes to paying attention and actually voting. Our track record doesn’t bode well for this type of election, but this is also an extraordinary time, with an openly treasonous president and a record number of young people registering to vote. So, here’s hoping!

Other than politics, what’s a passion of yours? 

Parenting and racing cars and playing music.

What’s something on your bucket list? 

I want to race a car at the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. I have raced on some very famous tracks in the U.S., but racing there has always been a dream.

Who do you admire in politics? Why?  

I admire progressive candidates. I think the message on the progressive left these days aligns with my vision of what I know America has the capacity to be – well educated, healthy, and financially comfortable. Unlike conservatives, who think achieving those traits should be the responsibility of each individual, I recognize that the current system is set up to deliver the opposite result to us and that government should play a role in assuring these outcomes for Americans.

What would you say to someone who is feeling totally dejected by our current state of politics? And how do you stay in the fight? 

This is not going to fix itself. We need all hands on deck right now. It’s easy to feel fatigued by the constant deluge of horrible news and lies on the national political stage. What we can do right now is to be engaged in bringing change to local and state politics, all of which eventually feeds upward toward national level politics. Action on the state and local level now is a long-term investment in better national governance in the future.

I stay in the fight because – even though I’m in the most privileged class in the nation, white men – I’m the only one of those in my immediate family. I married into a family of immigrants who are not white. My daughter is not white. This current regime has repeatedly and clearly signaled that its interests are furthering white supremacy while demonizing and dehumanizing refugees and people of color in this country. I stay in the fight for my family and people I do and don’t know who may be marginalized or have their humanity denied by this government.  

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. 

Sen. Jeff Jackson spoke to a Neighbors on Call meeting earlier this year, and he was very inspiring about canvassing and the positive effects it has. I’m also very inspired to see how well Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did in her primary win and with all of the positive attention she’s bringing to progressive policies and socialism around the country. I think it resonates very strongly with young people, who are beginning to realize the power of their agency and the stake they hold.