The Human Side of the (Re)election

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Day 1, Morning

Over Election Day break, the CU Democrats hosted a five-day trip to Cleveland, Ohio. The goal was to help canvass for the Obama campaign during Get Out the Vote (GOTV). Bwog’s recovering reporter, John, reminisces:

Having not woken up at 5 A.M. since high school and feeling like someone had recently retrieved a rake that was shoved down my throat, I hauled my aching body out of bed to do some last minute packing for our 7 A.M. departure. After a nine-hour bus ride, the Super 8 motel’s bed served as an infinitely better alternative to our previous plan of sleeping bags at a Salvation Army. Thank you, divine intervention OFA, for your change of heart.

The next day, about 165 of us scrambled into the motel parking lot with overwhelming chaos and zeal. I was excited to knock on some doors and talk with voters about their reasons for voting blue. Expecting a large hive, filled with bustling campaign workers, I arrived to find a cozy home retrofitted as a staging location. The Obama campaign really was grassroots.

After a briefing on logistics and picking out a partner, we went on our merry way to knock on some doors. Looking down the list we were given, the addresses and the people who lived there seemed just like numbers. At that time, it seemed that Nate Silver and the Obama campaign were right; the demographic consists of a bunch of numbers that needed to be convinced.

I ran through the script (for talking to voters) multiple times before the first door. “Hi, I’m looking for so and so. My name is John and I’m a volunteer for the Obama campaign. Have you thought about who you are going to vote for on election day?” All that was thrown out of the window as I talked to single mothers balancing multiple jobs, eighteen year olds voting for the time, and voters from countless other “demographics.”

In Lit Hum, we are taught about epiphanies, moments of realization, when Oedipus finds out he has been sleeping his mother, when Medea rides off in her dragon chariot. Such epiphanies occurred to me when I felt helpless for a mother who could not go to the polls because she had no one to watch her children, or for an 87 year old voter who could not vote because she could not get to the post office. These are real people, with organic hopes and concerns. They are not simply another check mark on a clipboard.

As CNN’s John King colored Ohio blue on his touchscreen, I realized it was not about the 56,000 doors we knocked on. In the end, it was about people, each with their hopes and fears, finding time in their busy lives to voice their opinion.

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  1. Anonymous  

    Looking good CU Dems! (and Team 14!)

  2. MB  

    Oops...sorry 'bout that stank eye, Bwog.

  3. BB  

    Oh please girl, I'll have extra stank on the side.

  4. Van Owen

    I told a girl that I'd vote for Obama if she would give me dome and make me a sandwich. I got dome, a sandwich, and I voted for myself. Life is pretty clutch.

  5. Hmm

    Not that people aren't free to spend their break as they wish, but it seems pretty tone deaf to me for a group of the most "involved" and "committed" student social activists to take a field trip to Ohio when they could've made such a difference with that money and time helping out hurricane victims in our own city and state. Maybe if the author had helped people in the rockaways stay warm rather than indulge in a rollicking road trip with his friends, his self-aggrandizing statements about making a difference and learning the true meaning of lit-hum would be a bit less irritating. Or maybe he's just a freshman...

    • lol

      The campaign didn't stop because of Sandy. I'm sorry Romney lost. Time to get over it, though.

    • MB

      We've had this trip in the works for about 6 months now (we do it every year), so we would never cancel, but you're right that more people should take advantage of the spirit of our fall break and give back to their communities. I'm glad we were able to help re-elect a president who's worked remarkably well with Christie/Bloomberg/Cuomo to get those affected by Sandy the help they need right away. We're on the same team, buddy, no need for mock quotes.

    • anon  

      The funny thing is, I had doubts about going to Ohio while a sizable portion of my beloved city lay in disaster, so I asked a friend of mine - a lifelong New Yorker and Democrat - if I should stay and volunteer or go to Ohio. She replied, "Go to Ohio. New York will survive, and we're very proud of that."

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