November 04, 2008

On the front lines of hope

I have a 30 week belly pic I need to post later tonight - complete with my ex-large PINK Obama t-shirt. ( I also have 24, 26, 28 week belly pics I plan to post.....)

BUT - we are having computer issues and I am thoroughly exhausted at the moment.

I have been so fortunate to be working the front lines, volunteering for the Obama campaign for several days. I've done canvassing, phone banking, and today my neighbor and I spent 10+ hours working as "Section captains" managing the drivers volunteering for our district and working with poll workers to relay information and deal with all sorts of voter issues and conflicts. And it has been incredible.

The one disappointment has been learning how uneducated I have been and really so many others have been about voting procedures, especially around things like mail-in ballots and provisional ballots. So many of the issues cropping up at the polls today were with people not voting in their precinct, or voting via provisional ballots because they did not use the mail-in ballot sent to them - both situations mean that their votes aren't counted right away, have to go through a really complicated process of verification and may not even be counted unless there is a dispute. Add to that the blatant instances of those trying to interfere with or deliberately mislead voters showing up at the polls in our predominantly democratic district - and it can be a bit discouraging.

A really surprising and positive thing today was visiting polling places throughout the day and never seeing very long lines or waits as there have been in years past. It is obvious that a huge amount of voters voted early this year and that is exciting for so many reasons. It means people were voting with intention, purpose, and pre-planning rather than waiting until the last minute. It means people were more involved and excited about getting out to vote and making their voices heard. And it means that whatever issues are cropping up at the polls today - they are affecting a far smaller percentage of voters than they would have otherwise.

Being involved in this campaign has been an experience I will carry with me for my lifetime and one I cannot wait to share with my son, who kicked and rolled around inside of me today, seeming to share in my excitement and emotions. The group of people we worked with was one of the most diverse, passionate, kind, intelligent, wonderful groups I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. As exhausting and overwhelming as today has been for me, I cannot imagine how so many of these people who have traveled across the country to be here, leaving families and jobs behind, to be here every single day - I cannot imagine how these people have kept up their energy and their passion for months now. It is so good to be reminded of the strength and deep goodness in people all over this country, all over the world. People willing to work together, to collaborate, to cooperate, to make sacrifices, to affect change - to bring positive movement in a world, in a nation that has held much disapointment recently for so many. I am so proud to be part of them, even in my own small way.

Every day I showed up there was such an overwhelming swath of volunteers cramming themselves into the campaign office that those running the efforts were frequently completely caught off guard with how to best mobilize such an unexpectedly huge amount of people showing up and wanting simply to help. This is an amazing problem to have and one I have rarely heard of plaguing other volunteer-driven organizations. I know some of this is probably due to the sensational nature of this candidate and the election as a whole. But in a nation where so many are suffering, so many are experiencing loss of jobs, it still really amazes me that so many showed up to give. To give of their time, their resources, their energy.

I want Obama to win, I want democrats to win. For numerous reasons, personal and political. But today I also desperately want Obama to win so that all these volunteers, these millions who have shown up in so many ways, for so many months - these people who choose to hope, choose to believe that their efforts will make a difference - so that all of these people will be rewarded, will be proven right - their efforts will work, their work will affect change, and maybe it will carry forth into future issues. Maybe it will restore more people's faith that they can make a difference, they can become involved for issues they care about, and their involvement can matter. And maybe all of us will live a little differently - live just a tiny bit more with intention and willingness to give to bring about the changes we are hungry for. Not just for ourselves, but for all of us - together.

I have been reluctant to celebrate my nationality, hesitant to engage in any form of patriotism, for at least 8 years now. I have felt disenfranchised by our politicians and administration. I have had a difficult time being "proud" to be an American. I have grieved at baseball and soccer games when the national anthem was played. I have had dreams of leaving the country.

Today, this week - I am reminded that this IS my country too. I do have a place and a voice here, and I am proud to engage in it and be a part of it. I am proud of my fellow residents of the U.S.. I am proud and I am hopeful.

And gosh, it feels so good to let go of some of my cynicism, my anger, and to hope - with realistic expectations - but nevertheless to hope.

(now I have to rush off to a big party downtown for all the volunteers - I am dead tired, but I am not ready for today to be over yet - so I am going to go mingle with thousands of others and hopefully CELEBRATE!!!!!)


Anonymous said...

I am proud of you Duffy! Have a great time at the party.

I gave you an award. Go check out my blog.

Meg said...

I drove to my internship this evening and watched corners and corners covered with people holding signs and waving. The beeping and cheering made me tear up the entire car ride... Hormones maybe??? I think it was my hope and anticipation for a sweeping change.

I commend you for volunteering this week. You are making a huge difference!

annacyclopedia said...

Well done for making the world a better place through your work. I hope the celebration was as jubilant as I imagine it was!

patrick said...

i can't help thinking it's awesome that there has been such long lines all over... people taking a greater interest in public issues is always a good thing