Kathryn Hahn Explains Why Midterm Elections Matter
If you live in what’s known as a swing district — an area where elections tend to be close or are becoming closer — then gird your loins: You’re about to get oodles of texts, phone calls, knocks on the door, and letters in the mail from hordes of caffeinated volunteers. And while midterm elections aren’t always breathlessly anticipated events, this year’s midterms, which are happening on November 6th, are shaping up to be hot.
“People usually just think about that big presidential election; they don't always realize how important the midterms are, especially this year,” Kathryn Hahn, the actress known for her achingly empathetic portrayal of Rabbi Raquel on Transparent, and as one very relatable Bad Mom, says. “It’s an imperative time for our country.”
Indeed, there’s a good chance that Democrats will take back the House of Representatives in November. But it’s gonna take a lot of volunteers to convert the #Resistance vibes into a landslide of actual votes.
Hahn is among the many campaign volunteers getting involved for the first time. This summer, she hit her home state of Ohio to go door-knocking for Danny O’Connor and drove down from Los Angeles to support Katie Hill, a 30-year-old openly bisexual woman running to represent a district that’s voted Republican for decades.
Hahn grew up in Cleveland with a Democratic mom and Republican dad; Catholicism, not politics, was the glue that united their community. But issues like women’s rights, LGBT rights, civil liberties, and freedom of speech increasingly drew her toward liberal candidates and causes.
“I knew certain things about the country that I believed to be true: that it was a country based on freedom and independence. I saw the image of the Statue of Liberty, and when she said that she would accept all humans in with open arms, I took that as her word,” Hahn says. “And so when I could see certain things that were not true being built into our laws by people who we were voting for — that's when I started to be political.”
“I had a lot of passion to do something, but I didn’t exactly know where to put my energy or what candidates were where, or even what a swing district really meant,” she says. This summer, she partnered with Swing Left, a progressive political group that helps people volunteer in the swing district closest to them.
After you enter your zip code, Swing Left’s site queues up a bunch of specific actions you can take, from canvassing alongside other volunteers in a nearby district to phone banking for a district further afield to making a donation to a critical race. There is training associated with each action, so first-time volunteers won’t feel lost. And while Hahn would say it's important to volunteer any time, Swing Left, and the celebs in the video above, are focusing on the final weekend before the election, or Saturday November 3 through Election Day, November 6, as part of The Last Weekend, a coalition campaign which aims to line up 1 million volunteer hours over those four days. Consider it a last call to galvanize voters.
Hahn has certainly been putting in her hours. And while centrist or conservative voters might prefer celebrities and their ilk butt out of their local politics, Hahn says that the Hollywood muscle is not running the show. Instead, each Swing Left volunteer team is led by someone who lives in that district and has a deep understanding of the issues on the ground. (In Ohio, locals told Hahn they were most concerned about taxes; in California, it was immigration.) The out-of-district volunteers are there to amplify the "get out the vote" work that’s already being done locally.
“The most important thing is to vote in November, but it’s also important to volunteer,” she says. “Whether you’re canvassing or phone banking, it’s just three or four hours of your day, and you feel incredibly fulfilled.”