Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yes WE Did.



Good morning America!

It's been a grueling but exhilirating couple of months and the last two weeks have been exhausting. I've been volunteering at the Obama campaign office in my small Virginia town, going down there every night after work and all weekend...basically any time I was not at my job or in classes. Last week in the runup to the election, I took vacation time so that I could be there full-time. I ended up being given the job of organizing all of the volunteers that were coming in to help, assigning them to tasks, sending canvassers to satellite staging locations, monitoring which turfs were covered, delegating other prep tasks (literature sorting, data entering, etc.) to small teams. It was stressful but exciting, and I'm still recovering from 10+ days of sixteen hour days on my feet.

There was truly something wonderful about the community coming together to elect this very special candidate. It's hard for me to articulate the spirit of hope and positive energy that surrounded us. I think of the elderly woman who would make her way to our office with the help of a cane and feed paper into the shredder. The high school students who can't vote but who would make phone calls, enter data, or help tally up the numbers from the day's activities. The blue collar family who is struggling to make ends meet on less than 25k a year, who were denied food stamps for the third time last week because they are "not poor enough" but who spent hours each day going out to knock on doors and talk to voters. The quiet young black veteran who showed up to help and after we learned about his IT expertise gained in the Army, immediately set to work troubleshooting some of our computer and networking issues. The local volunteers who were the heart and soul of the office and the out of town volunteers who came down from D.C., Maryland and even New York to help provide assistance in the last Get Out the Vote push. People from every race, social class and creed coming together and working hard in what is really grueling, unglamourous work.

In the end, we were able to turn our city blue even if the surrounding county still went red (although we shaved off over 10 points from their margins which in itself is pretty amazing). It's not an easy area to be a Democrat. We had plenty of rude people walking by our storefront windows and yelling nasty things. The night before E-day, the car of one volunteer was side-swiped by someone yelling "Obama sucks". I couldn't tell you how many people came in to get a new yard sign because the ones they had kept getting stolen. I answered the phone and got yelled out by people telling me that they "weren't votin' for no goddammed Democrat". Other offices around the state suffered worse in the ways of vandalism and threats. My own parents sent me horrific email forwards about Obama being the "anti-christ" and other fear-mongering nonsense. Clearly change scares some people. But overall, I am very heartened by the willingness of so many people to come together and reject the divisive politics of the past.

Tuesday night as I sat in the embrace of my boyfriend, surrounded by a sea of tired, happy people, I wept tears of joy. Not only because my future children will grow up in a world where a man that looks like them can be president. But also because I have seen firsthand what can happen when individuals organize and work for the betterment of the whole community. I have made friends that I expect to keep for a lifetime and have met people in my area that I would never otherwise have known. It's been an amazing journey and it's only the beginning.

In closing, I just have to share one of the many grassroots contributions during this election. It's a zydeco band from Louisiana, my mom's homestate and a place I have lived. Not only is the music joyful and infectious but I just love seeing the mix of regular folks. (and as a speaker of french, I get a kick out of the Cajun french). :-)

18 comments:

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

You are amazing! I bow down to you :D
I think most of us are glad to say we are blue!

Kati said...

Congratulations in particular to you Sula. You put you precious time and love into this election.

You must be SO proud. And the fact that Virginia went blue??? AWESOME!

Tracy said...

That was wonderful Sula. The time and energy you put into the campaign obviously made a difference. I loved hearing about all of the different people who worked in the office and it brought tears to my eyes.

azteclady said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, as you've shared your energy and your time.

And that song? LOVE IT! Oui, on peux!

Kwana said...

Congratulations to you to us. Be proud of all the hard work you did. It's such an amazing thing. Such a wonderful time.

Kerry said...

I wasn't able to volunteer as much as I wanted, so I truly thank you and the other volunteers who put in so much hard work. You guys had a lot to do with the results!!!

Before Tuesday night, I was hoping to get by without having my Obama-stickered car keyed. I never expected VA to go blue! My county (Frederick) went red, but less red. And my car is intact!

CD said...

Oh yes YOU did, indeed!!

Congratulations to you and all the Americans here. Even to someone who is not American and has few ties to the States, it was an extremely moving evening. Towards the end, a pretty raucous one where I was watching ;-)...

And thanks for the clip. Have to say that, even though I consider myself a French speaker, was pretty glad for the subtitles. Do people really speak like that in Louisiana?

CD said...

BTW, as a lurker, now that that's over and done with, looking forward to more Armitage and Man Love Mondays...

Shannon said...

Good for you!!! I have to say the atmosphere was amazing here in Chicago. You could feel the excitement and the hope in the air. When the announcement was made I could here car horns honking and people shouting, cheering, outside. Chicago is one happy place to be right now.

Thanks for all of your hard work in an area that needed it. Illinois was colored blue on the maps even before our pollin places closed. Your time was work that made a true impact.

Carolyn Jean said...

Sula, I totally thought of you when Virginia was announced. And what a great post!! You rock. I am just so impressed and grateful for the hard work you did. THANK YOU!!!!

Giselle said...

Sula,
Go you!
Gosh I thought I was done with crying over this election but your post brought me to tears once again. I wished to volunteer as you did but the kids, work etc I just couldn't and I regret that bitterly. It's such an awesome thing you did. Oh there I go again. I'm like a leaky faucet lately.

Kristie (J) said...

I'm glad to see you back and missed you while you were gone. But you were doing something so much more important during your time away from blogging. I think the recent election results have thrilled the world. I know it's thrilled Canada.

Tumperkin said...

It's wonderful. The rest of the world are very very happy too.

Great post.

sula said...

Thank you all for your very kind comments. I'm sorry it's taken me a few days to get back. I was in Pittsburgh at a conference for my job. Now back home and curled up at DBF's apartment waiting for him to come home from work.

I'm still in a bit of shock. But in a good way. It may take a while for this to sink in. I want to keep doing volunteer work though. I'm going to look into some of the opportunities to get involved in the next few weeks.

and um, kerry...at the risk of sacrificing my internet anonymity, we may have actually met. assuming you ever stopped by the office that serves that county. heh.

big hugs to everyone and I hope to get back to blogging more regularly now. :)

man love, richard armitage and plenty of new romance novels await.

azteclady said...

*waving* Hi, sula!

Have you seen this?

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Thank you for all your hard work to bring us to the mountaintop!!!! I campaigned a bit in Philadelphia, and my tears of joy have been with me all week. Blessings to you, and to our brighter future thanks to the efforts of people like you, all inspired by one incredibly gifted, amazing man.

sula said...

lol, az. I hadn't seen the video but I agree with him.

leanna, thanks for stopping by and thanks also for your contributions in Philly. Everyone doing what they could...that is how we got this far.

CD said...

"man love, richard armitage and plenty of new romance novels await."

Come on, girl. This politics stuff is all very well but come back and focus on the important stuff ;-)...