by Susan Anderson, Precinct #29 Captain, Key Largo

As Keys Democrats, our goal is clear: we want to turn the Florida Keys BLUE.  But the stark reality is that we cannot expand our party membership without first becoming more visible in our community. Signs, buttons, and bumper stickers are the traditional methods for getting people’s attention, but they sometimes display messages that antagonize folks.  And in this hyperpolarized environment, they also risk alienating our own Dems who may be disgusted with the angry political climate on both sides.

Our Democratic party stands for civility and compassion.  We need to use these same traits to recruit others.

With that in mind, Keys Democrats recently chose not to print anti-Trump signs for the 2020 election cycle, as tempting as that might be.  We instead printed blue and white yard signs with the simple text “VOTE 2020,” which we will distribute as soon as the current health crisis permits us to do so safely.  But our experience has been that many registered Democrats in the county will not place a sign in their yard, even one with a simple message such as this, that in no way can be read to be overly antagonistic or controversial.  They are hesitant to talk about their party affiliation publicly, or to display a political sign in their front yard.  They feel threatened by people who will steal your political yard sign, yet display their own giant banners with confidence across balconies, boats, and canals.  They understand we need to be seen, yet are concerned about becoming targets for hooligans and for vandalism.

So what are we to do?

The #BeBlue campaign grew out of this conundrum, developed by frustrated volunteers who believe we need to make ourselves more visible without unnecessarily making ourselves targets.  The #BeBlue campaign provides reluctant Democrats a chance to participate in political activism without the antagonism they might be avoiding.

#BeBlue is a visual movement inspired by previous visual movements, such as: yellow ribbons tied around a tree to welcome a soldier home, black armbands for mourning or to show defiance, suffragettes wearing white, and the pink pussy hat, which needs no explanation.  The #BeBlue campaign, however, adds a new twist to the visual theme: lights.

Blue lights are a “blue-ti-ful” addition to every boat, camper, home, and landscape, and that is how they will be seen in the beginning by the unknowing onlooker.  Our volunteers and supporters have already taken to the #BeBlue challenge: tea lights line a home’s front windows, blue Christmas lights decorate a garden, blue solar flood lights underlight an exotic palm, and the fronts of porches and front doors are lighted blue, too.  These #BeBlue locations are being documented with pushpins on a map of the Keys, awaiting display in our future Upper Keys Democratic Office.

Eventually, word will get out that our blue-ti-ful night lights represent protecting the environment, racial justice, gender equality, choice, unions, healthcare for all, and other human rights.  But by then, the lights will have already been accepted as part of the landscape without causing a fuss, like the proverbial frog in the pot of water.  Every night, Democrats and their neighbors will be gently reminded of the current administration’s failures, and the BLUE option available in November.

#BeBlue can also be practiced during coronavirus social distancing, while all other volunteering options are on hold.  Precinct Captains can contact like-minded voters by postcard or phone, asking people from their neighborhoods they know personally to participate.  You would be surprised that people who otherwise might be reluctant to volunteer have eagerly participated in the #BeBlue campaign.  And once they have had a small taste of political activism, they may well decide they want to spend more time volunteering with us—which is much more fun and gratifying than yelling at the evening news!

Blue-ti-ful lights are affordable, can be ordered through Amazon and other sources, and will be delivered right to your home, keeping you safe during this pandemic.  A couple of options include Milky Way LEDs and Blue Solar Spotlights.

After your blue lights arrive and you have decorated your home, please post your #BeBlue lights on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter, and be sure to include in the comments the hashtag: #BeBlue.  You may also message me on Facebook, Susan Anderson, and include your photo and subdivision so I can add your location to the #BeBlue map.

Let’s turn the Keys, the State, and the Country BLUE. ?