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November 02, 2004


Midnight: Just got home from the post-election "party." We closed up shop in Shoreline at about 8:30 after the last of our poll watcher data came in. We had CNN on and the mood visably deteriorated as the results started to come in.

About 1/2 hour ago I was sitting next to one of the teenagers who came up to Everett with me to volunteer for a day. "What did we do wrong?" She asked. "We didn't do anything wrong," I said. "And neither did you. You were there and you worked really hard - I SAW you do it."

But I wonder. I talked with her mom for a while at about 10pm. We both wondered if things wouldn't have turned out differently if the party machinery wasn't so fucked up. But now, I'm going to bed. I'm going to try, for now, to believe that I did all I could for this election. Washington is a Kerry state right now, and Patty Murray kept her seat. That's what I worked on and for now, for the next 24 hours, it's going to have to do.

5pm Update: We're still cranking out the vote here in Shoreline. Our second shift is working really hard - we finally lost Gretchen at about 4pm and she got here first thing this morning right after we opened the doors. The high schoolers are here too, they got in a little after three and they helped us finish up our call lists - we're in round two, now we're just calling people who we left messages for earlier today.

I just spent a little time talking with one of our canvassers, a tall guy wearing a "Canucks for Kerry" button. He told me that in Canada, they're not allowed to broadcast results until the polls are closed on the West coast. Of course, here, we'd have to wait for the Hawaiians to close up shop if we did that, but I can't help but wonder what would have happened in 2000 if we'd done it the Canadian way. The Web has certainly thrown a wrench in the works - a private citizen was taken to court for publishing the results on his own site.

We're running our final poll check at 6:30, but so far our turn out looks really good. We're checking results online when we get a lull in the action, but it's a little like being in the eye of the storm. We're working really hard here and we don't have a lot of time to see what's going on out there in the world.

Short update: Jay Inslee came in and shook hands with all the volunteers and headed out again into the rain. We had so many people show up we had to set up an overflow phone bank with the Sierra Club down in Fremont. We also got a pile of cell phones that were supposed to be used by the canvassers - we put our callers on them.

Chris, one of the staffers, walked through around 11 am to give us the numbers and we cheered like crazy.

Apparently there was some kind of snafu around lunch because we ended up with three boxes of KFC for 100 volunteers. The pizza showed up later, but only one box made it down to us. I grabbed a slice and headed back to Cap Hill to go to the polls. I'm going to vote and head back up to Shoreline, but what I really want to do is take a nap. Whew, it's going to be a long day.

I'm at the front desk at the Jay Inslee campaign office where I'll be spending my day. We got here at about 6:50, the place was already packed. It's pouring rain, but the team captains have come out in force, wearing rain pants and hats and carrying umbrellas. They're having snacks and getting their maps and in about 1/2 hour, they're off to the neighborhoods to get out the vote. My phone bank team has gone on a coffee run - we didn't want to get you out of the shower to answer the phone, but we'll be starting our efforts around 8 and we'll be here until 8 tonight.

It's the big day. Let's vote, people.

October 29, 2004


Today I hung out with Pat. He's ex-Boeing, laid off two years ago. He's 62, an avid cross country skier, and he makes his own apple cider. He's also an ex-Republican. Naturally, I asked him why.

To my surprise, it was abortion rights that made Pat switch.

"Men can't have babies. Until they can have babies, they shouldn't be make decisions about abortion. Also, some time back I attended a rally, some right wing organization, where they were on about abortion. I asked the guy if he was willing to pay to raise the little bastards - by that I mean the traditional definition of the term, a fatherless child - himself. Heavens, no, he said. So I said, wouldn't it be better to let that soul have another shot at finding a host that wants it?"

I don't know why I was suprised by this, but I was. It's not everyday an old guy in a Dickey jumpsuit and aviator eyeglasses tells you why abortion rights matter. I kind of think he should be the new front man for Planned Parenthood ads.

October 28, 2004

Everyone is doing it

You know what's cool? When you meet the volunteers. One of whom might very well include a transvestite in black and purple striped stockings. Or a 60ish schoolteacher who lets you have her salad because she can see you're really hungry and you've been there since, well earlier than her, that's for sure.

I'm running a phone bank in Shoreline on Election Day. If you're not yet signed up to volunteer that day, I can use your help. Drop me a line.

October 25, 2004

Three Good Reasons to Vote Democratic

I pay 240 dollars a month for health insurance. This might not seem like a lot of money to you, but when youíre not working, itís a good chunk of change. Not that Iím complaining about not working. I plan for it, itís the nature of being a freelancer, plus it gives me time to volunteer for the Democrats.

Since I go hang out with the staffers on a regular basis, theyíve got to know me and what my political issues are. They know that my marriage to a damn foreigner makes me a rabid advocate for international diplomacy. And they know because Iím a freelancer who runs her own business I care about the cost of insurance. Thatís why they invited me to be a speaker on a panel with Senator Patty Murray.

Senator Murray, in case you were wondering, is tiny. I could have tossed her over my shoulder and made a run for it. So tiny is she that Iíll bet I could have made it to the front door before Iíd been stopped. But that is neither here nor there.

The room was filled, mostly with seniors, though there were a few students, and some local government reps. There were three other panel speakers. The idea was that each person would talk about their issues with health insurance and then, the Senator would respond. I went first. I talked about how I used to get my insurance from my agencies, but I was always ending up having to pay COBRA when I could least afford it. I talked about how Iím the primary income in our house and how when the husband relocates, Iíll be paying out for both of us. I talked about how employer based health insurance doesnít work for me. I talked about how I love my work and my lifestyle, but that doesnít alleviate the pinch I feel when I have to pay that bill every month.

Next up was Mary. Sheís 59 and a survivor of two strokes. Her husband, whoís 60, was laid off two years ago from his job as a computer programmer. Mary shells out a lot of money for the medication she needs to manage her post-stroke condition. Her disability and social security are what keeps their household afloat. Her husbandís unemployment ran out long ago. It shouldnít shock you to learn that they have a hard time paying for everything Mary needs.

Then was Valerie. Sheís 52 and sheís a nurse. She spoke about the delivery of health care from the other side. An insurance company they used to work for recently dropped their certification of their facilities. Patients entering without the correct insurance are billed at double the rate of those with the correct insurance. Apparently, you can get care in the emergency room or the walk in facility, and they are two totally different pay scales. She says the docs and nurses want desperately to do right by their patients, but they are regularly faced with wrenching decisions about care as they find out whatís paid for and whatís not.

Kelly spoke last. Kelly is 46 and has Parkinsonís disease. She couldnít hold the microphone so the Senator set the stand in front of her. Kelly said stress that makes the shaking worse and that she was so nervous that if she spoke without notes, sheíd just lose it. She then read an eloquently composed plea for stem cell research. She read about how sheíd been laid off from her job a mere three months before she was diagnosed. She read about how her symptoms have progressed. She made a joke about how while sheís intrigued by the idea of being cloned, what she really hoped for was to clone a Petri dish full of the cells she needs to cure her disease.

The Senator had reasonable comments for all of us, naturally. But the thing that stays with me is how humbling my companions were. A woman whoís had two strokes. A 52 year old nurse who really wants to help people on both sides of the counter. And a woman whoís had her life ravaged by disease. God, I thought, HELP THEM! LOOK AT THEM! CAN YOU SEE THEM? DOES ANYONE SEE THEM?!

After we wrapped up, I got to talking with a man in the audience. ďThis is what they need to see,Ē he said. ďThey need to see that policy is affecting real people.Ē Heís not fucking kidding. I would like to have seen the president of the United States tell Kelly he would not approve the research that gave her the only hope she had.

I shook hands with the Senator and then talked with my colleagues. They were sympathetic to my economic worries over my monthly insurance bill. I was awed by their strength. What an honor to be with them. No one is going to send those kind women to Washington to address Congress, so we will have to send representatives who have met them. When I plead with people to vote Democratic, I usually ask them to do it for me because Iím so wrapped up in foreign policy issues. But now I know Valerie and Mary and Kelly. Iím not voting for me anymore. Iím voting for them.

October 11, 2004

It's for you

I guess it should not have surprised me, but I don't have kids. See, it turns out that young teenage girls LOVE to talk on the phone! This was especially handy on Friday afternoon when the three good sports I took to the campaign office learned they were going to spend the afternoon making phone calls.

Not only did they cruise through the list, lining up volunteers left and left (I can't say left and right), but they did it with good humor, patience, and they didn't want to go home. They were kind to the cranky, didn't take the hang ups personally, and they worked really hard. I kept checking in on them to make sure they were okay and to see if they wanted to do something else, but nope, they even turned down the project involving markers.

Two 13s and a 12. They get a 10. Plus.

October 05, 2004

Bread and Circuses

1. Grandma on the phone, calling Seniors: "Oh honey, I KNOW, we all loved him as president. Things were so much better than." I sat next to her for a while and watched her work. She was AWESOME. A thing that is true: YOU are the best person to activate your crowd. She's a perfect illustration of that.

2. Woman I called while recruiting volunteers: "Just look at what happened in Rome. I mean, that's what President Bush is doing. He's giving us bread and circuses. This has GOT to stop." Hallelujah, sister.

BTW, I can hook you up with an election day Get Out The Vote crew. Just drop me a line.

October 04, 2004

Two and One

I got two Republicans and a non voter. That's right. I got them, they're voting for Kerry this time around. I wanted to mention that in a big old public forum like this to remind you that the while election is a mere month away you can still bag a swing voter. Run, don't walk, to your nearest campaign office. Or just start workin' the crowd. You might think you don't know any Republicans, but you do, you do. I might have only got three votes, but they'll tell two friends...

We have to win. See, I'm not leaving if we don't. I've decided to secede. And it is really going to piss of my downstairs neighbors when civil war starts on my front porch. Do it for them.

September 28, 2004

The Dirty Work

Face it. The phone calls are a drag. Itís telemarketing, plain and simple; itís a politician youíre selling, not magazines or timeshares. And it sucks. Itís wearing and dull. And people are angry. Theyíve been called 97 times by 97 different campaigns. They donít want to talk about their politics to a stranger on the phone. And hell, why should they? As they reminded me repeatedly, itís their right not to tell anyone how theyíre voting. They are right. I canít argue with them. Also, it turns out, duh, thereís a ton of policy I know f*ck all about.

The hardcore Republicans? Very nice to me. Really nice. Polite. The undecided voters? Totally inscrutable. Iíd ask them what issues were important to them in the election and they didnít know. Are they kidding with that? A bunch of people hung up on me. And I talked to one funny old coot who said this in a slow southern twang:

ďI don't like that Bush. We shouldnít have gone in there.I fought in WWII. I was 19 years old when I enlisted and I don't like how we went into Iraq. Theyíve been fighting there since time began. And our Lord was there, Jesus was there and they were fighting then and theyíre still fighting.Ē How do you respond to that?

The staffers do the dirty work too, it's not just the volunteers. the staffer next to me cranked through her list of phone calls while I did mine. What a day. Iím whacked. I must have made a hundred phone calls.

I turned on the radio when I got in to the car. American Pie had just started and I sang along. When I got off the freeway, the huge orange moon was hanging low in the sky. I guess that's the payoff. The orange moon and "this'll be the day that I die."

September 23, 2004

I Have No Idea Where that Number Came From

From the "No, I am NOT blogging my time at the campaign office" files comes today's clip:

"600,000 Democrats threatening to leave the country? How is that good for the campaign? We need to keep in mind that it's not over yet. What's with the defeatist attitude? We need to be saying we're winning with Kerry and Edwards. It's not over yet."

September 21, 2004

You Said It, Sister!

From the "No, I am NOT blogging my time at the campaign office" files comes this tiny vignette. A 70ish lady, fully decked out in Kerry/Edwards regalia. Upon handing off her project of the morning, she said this to the staffer at my left:

"You know, I LOVE this country, but when I think about what our government has done in Iraq, I just get so damn angry! Don't GET me started!"

September 19, 2004

The Selfish Democrat

Iíve just spent the day with the Kerry organizers at an office north of here. Theyíre recruiting precinct captains for the last 45 days before the election. Itís all about getting out the vote, people, and they really need your help.

Apparently, theyíre all really hush hush about whatís going on in their offices. When I asked if I could take some pictures, they asked me a bunch of questions about who they were for. Another campaign staffer asked me if I was going to be writing about what Iím up to for anyone. They really want to keep things under wraps. This is a huge bummer for me, because you all know thereís nothing Iíd rather do than blab on and on about what I got up to during the day. Well, the second best thing to that is going to be having you there with me. So as things progress and I get more involved, Iím going to be asking you to join me. That way I wonít have to describe it to you in sanitized terms, you can experience it for yourself. You folks who arenít my neighbors, I beg you, get in touch with your local office and go sign up.

I will tell you about one thing that happened today. I met a really nice guy today - heís been volunteering for political campaigns since 1964. Heís a DBA, runs his own small business, kind of an old hippie, Iíd guess he was about 55? 60 maybe? Anyway, he told me that heíd signed up to work for the campaign because his son is serving in Afghanistan. He says he canít bear to hear the Bush administration talking about whatís torture and whatís not because, well, his son is in Afghanistan. Heís been there for nine months. ďItís personal,Ē he said to me.

Thatís the surprising thing I learned today Ė that itís okay that politics is personal. Iíve been feeling sort of funny about it being so personal. See Iíve been under this illusion that there should be a certain community minded sacrifice around being involved in politics, when Iíve been all, hey, I want this government OUT because itís really way better for ME. But for everyone who spoke at the training session I attended today, it was personal. The fact that I care deeply about US foreign policy because I have to answer for it when Iím in Europe makes me an ideal campaigner. The fact that I pay 3000 dollars a year for health insurance Ė without dental or optical coverage - and it still costs me 40 bucks to see a doctor - makes me an ideal campaigner. The fact that Iím surrounded by people I adore who canít get married makes me an ideal campaigner. For the union guy whoís lost his job, itís personal. For the woman that works at the base that canít live on her military salary, itís personal. You know what it is for you. And nowís your chance to talk about it. Your story can swing a vote that makes a difference.

So get on downtown, okay? Lots of folks are talking about their plans to head to Canada or Europe if the election doesnít go their way. But before you start packing, please do something, anything, to help take this election. Contact your local campaign office. Pick up the phone and call them, or, better yet, just go down there and talk to a human being who can sign you up to help. Donít have time? Send money to the DNC. Send money to someone you know whoís giving their time to the campaign. Call your local office and say ďIím going to Costco, you need anything?Ē Write to your local papers and tell them why this election is personal. Write to your friends and tell them to get themselves downtown to the campaign HQ. Wonít take you but 10-15 minutes.

Hereís how to get involved

1.Go to the US map on the Kerry/ Edwards website here.
2.Click on your state.
3.The Contacts box is in the top right corner. You may need to click ďContacts in Ē to get the information you need.
4.Pick up the phone and call the office. I really recommend calling or showing up in person, the campaign folks are bogged down in web input. Just go.

Thatís it. If you have trouble, let me know, Iíll help you find a contact. (Email me.) The campaign needs you. More importantly, I need you. This election is all about me. I am so tired of explaining US foreign policy to Europeans who think that we must be out of our collective minds to even consider re-electing a president who wasnít elected in the first place. And Iím tired of paying through the nose for health insurance thatís barely adequate and eats all my profits. I'm tired of hearing my friends say they're waiting for the Supreme Court to let them marry. Help me out, okay? Itís personal.