Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dare I Call it Community Organizing?

For those of you that have been reading this blog for a while, you might be wondering where I have gone and what I might be doing instead of blogging. I am finding that I am being remarkably quiet, even for me. It’s not because I don’t have anything on my mind – I have so many things I’d like to share with you. But other than simply being busy with the kids, I’m quiet because I am trying to strike a balance between processing my thoughts out loud and being respectful of others’ viewpoints. That’s right, I’m talking politics – however did you guess? Politics and this election are the subjects occupying my thoughts most prominently.

I have never before quite felt this way about an election. I've been interested, but not nail-biting nervous like this. There was the study and rallying to encourage people to vote that was part of Sociology 101 coursework in 1988. Most of my peers then didn’t even know who the candidates were, let alone planning on dragging their big hair to the polls. That year, I simply voted because it was my right to do so – not because I had a strong opinion of either candidate. Four years later, I waited in the longest line I had ever seen to cast my vote in the Bush vs. Clinton race. I was happy to do my part by casting my vote. The outcome was beside the point. I felt like my vote counted. And then there were the two dark elections in a row where I voted and felt like my vote didn’t matter – that it wasn’t enough. I felt helpless and unheard. This time around though, I am truly excited about this election. This will be the first time that I will be voting for a candidate rather than against one.

But I am aware of a certain discomfort in discussing such matters. Being from New England and in the words of Dar Williams, “Way back where I come from, we never mean to bother, We don’t like to make our passions other people’s concerns.” I was raised in a family where polite conversation did not involve talk of politics, religion and sex. I personally felt uncomfortable reading a blog post recently written by someone who is very pro-Palin. Since she asked for comments, I left a thoughtfully and respectfully (I hope) dissenting one. But I will guiltily admit that I may not be back to read that particular blog for a while. And I got very little feedback on the one post I wrote that wasn’t even necessarily about politics but I had the word in my title. So if I am putting anyone off here, I am sorry and I understand. It is simply easier to talk about the current state of the election with like-minded people – I get it.

The problem is, only speaking with folks who feel the same way I do isn’t really helping the cause. I can write numerous posts about what I like about Obama and what I dislike about McCain and those of you who agree with me will say, “Sing it Sister” and those of you who disagree will quietly click away. I’m sure I won’t be changing anyone’s mind so there is no reason to turn my blog into a podium. [For those who are completely undecided and plan on flipping a coin in the voting booth, email me and I’ll tell you why I am pro-Obama.] Seriously, do you really want to hear what I think of Palin as our potential new VP? I bet you can guess. However, I feel that we do need some true activism so I make the following proposals for whatever side of the ticket you are leaning:

1. Stop talking about the candidate for whom you are not voting and start talking about the candidate for whom you are voting. Tell us why you think he’s the right man for the job.
2. Write a heart-felt email or letter detailing these reasons and send it to everyone you know.
3. Call your local campaign office and find out how you can help. You can volunteer any number of ways by helping to get folks registered to vote or making calls. If you don’t have that kind of time, offer to donate food to feed the other volunteers.
4. Donate to the campaign of your choice. It’s going to take money to campaign hard in those battleground states.
5. Offer to drive someone to the polls that ordinarily might not be able to get there on their own.
6. Find out who’s on the fence – these are the people who will decide the election and these are the people we need to be talking to.
7. Get the facts on your favorite candidate – feel free to correct people who are spreading ideas that are simply not true. For example, “No, Obama does not want your kindergartner to carry condoms.”
8. By all means, vote. But only McCain or Obama can be president so think carefully before wasting your vote on a third party candidate or write-in. No one has ever made it to the Oval Office by a write-in vote. If you do decide to write-in your vote, email me ahead of time so I can make sure you know how to spell my last name correctly.

If true change is to happen, it is going to have to start with us. Be proactive! If you have any other ideas, please let me hear them. Please, please comment – I’d love to hear what you are thinking.


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

What? Civilized political discourse! I love you for the suggestions--this is why I despise reading a lot of political blogs--even when I agree with their points. They don't play fair and they aren't well-mannered. Everyone writing about politics should follow your guidelines!

Killlashandra said...

I'll just comment that being proactive is the right road to elicit change. It's often the hardest one to choose.

Stacy said...

I don't go into politics on my blog for the very reason that it is not what my blog is for. I think most people are passionately for their chosen party. There is little you can do to change their minds as it is mostly based on how they see the world and it's approach to correcting problems. I do contribute to the political campaign of my chosen party. If I want to discuss politics I'll do it over a glass of wine with my friends to have a truly enlightened discourse. ;)

Marty, a.k.a. canape said...

I already figured out how to spell your last name. Watch out, or I'll be making bumper stickers soon with me as your VP running mate.

@sweetbabboo said...

Marti can't be your VP b/c I wanna be. I can't believe I didn't comment on your last political post. Just know I totally commented in my head but must have been interrupted before actually typing it.

I love this post. It reminded me a little of this article I just read (only you were a lot more fair and balanced).

Madame Queen said...

You know, it is my general rule never to discuss politics. The times that I have broken my rule have rarely ended well. But I think I can say that this is the one of the most thoughtful, well written political posts I've read. I'm so sick of hearing about why the other guy is so terrible. I love that you said to tell me why your guy is so great. What a novel concept, huh? Bravo!