I’ve been working in the local Bernie Sanders campaign office for at least a week now: recruiting volunteers, training people to canvass, even going out and knocking on doors myself. It used to be fun while K was there; we just seem to click, you know? Similar interests and personalities, it’s like we’re on the same wavelength. His jokes were what helped me overcome my anxiety about calling random strangers to ask them to volunteer. His leadership is what freed me to go out knocking on random strangers’ doors. He has expressed appreciation for my efforts, considered my ideas, empowered me to organize in my town, given me leadership roles. It’s awesome.

But now he’s not going to be around most of the time (he’s helping another office), and instead M is running the joint. She seems nice enough, but her entire demeanor is different. She’s very down to business. “That won’t work, you should do this.” Maybe it’s just that I’m tired; I had a very busy day yesterday and my heart wasn’t entirely in it – I really didn’t feel like making calls. So I emailed people who signed up for events without giving us their number and called potential volunteers. Nada.

I hadn’t planned on canvassing because my feet hurt from the day before, but I grabbed the list I’d started and went out anyway. Door after door after door, not home. Not home. Not home. Someone finally answers. “No, they’re not here.” “We’re having dinner.” “We’re all voting for Hillary.”

I swear, this is like a gambling addiction. I keep looking at the list: “Okay, they’re 23, they’ll probably be a Bernie supporter.” Not home. Or moved. “The light is on.” Not home. “Well, you never know, my mom’s in her 60s and she’s voting for Bernie.” … that one never ends well …

But every so often, for a few shining moments, I get to talk to someone who says, “Yeah, of course I’m voting for Bernie!” Those people tend to be “too busy” to volunteer, though. And on rare occasions I get to talk to an undecided voter and hopefully sway them toward Bernie, even if just a little bit. Last night, when someone said he supported Bernie but didn’t plan to vote, I asked why. He said he didn’t think he could vote in the primary because he’s not registered as a Democrat. Well, it turns out that in my state he can – he’ll just have to declare at the polls – so I told him. Hopefully this will mean 1 more vote for Bernie. Enough of those, and we win.

(Go to CanIVote.org to verify your registration and party affiliation, and for information about how to vote in your state’s primary. It’s a nonpartisan site.)

It’s hard, holding on for those moments. Just one more house. Maybe this will be it! No… oh, well, maybe this next one. Maybe this next one. My feet hurt, I’m hungry, I’m tired, and I’m using my phone as a flashlight. But I push myself to go to the next house, to be warm and friendly when I greet its occupant(s).

At one of the last houses I went to, there were 4 or 5 names on my list, but only one answered. She seemed determined to block access to the others. I introduced myself, asked my questions. “Well I’m definitely voting for Hillary.” “Can I give you a flyer for the other members of your household?” “No, we’re all well informed. We’re all voting for Hillary.” I might have raised an eyebrow. “And you know, I really think he should drop out. He’s made his point, now he should just stop!” I blinked, and talked about how I’m glad Bernie’s staying in the race so – after over a year of supporting him – I’ll finally get to vote. I don’t think she was listening, she seemed to think I was trying to persuade her to vote for him.

I checked in at the office, grabbed the stuff I’d left there, called my husband to apologize for being the worst spouse ever, and came home. I went to bed fuming.

I think, if I get another person like that, I might not be so polite. I get it, I’m knocking on your door completely out of the blue to talk to you about a candidate you don’t support. Fine. Most of the Hillary supporters I’ve talked to have been friendly. Many have thanked me for my activism. Some have even wished me “good luck.” (Which seems a little ironic, but I’ll take it.) It’s not so difficult to say “No, thank you.” I’ll even accept it if you simply refuse to talk to me.

But to tell me that Bernie should drop out of the race is completely unacceptable. If you have that opinion, fine, but it’s very rude to say so to a canvasser.

Bernie Sanders has spent his entire political career – longer than I’ve been alive – fighting for nearly everything I believe in. He is about as close to my ideal president as it’s possible to get. I have enthusiastically supported him since the day he announced he was running for president. I have donated to his campaign multiple times. I have held my breath awaiting the results of every caucus and primary. I have beaten myself up over the anxiety that prevented me from volunteering sooner. I have pushed myself a million miles outside my comfort zone and overcome agoraphobia (okay, “agoraphobic tendencies”) so I can participate fully in the political revolution.

Now Bernie’s campaign is in my state, and I’ve essentially made it my full time job. I’ve put everything else on hold for it. I’m tired, but I’m showing up at the office anyway. I haven’t eaten in 6 hours, but I’m standing on your porch smiling while you tell me that coming here was a waste of my time. My feet hurt and my shoes are crappy, but I’m walking down street after street anyway.

I’m doing all these things because I believe Bernie Sanders’ campaign – and especially the political revolution he’s incited – is the most important thing that has happened in my lifetime. I am proud to be a part of it and I will do everything I can to make sure it succeeds. I sincerely believe that he can win the general election even if he has to run as a third-party candidate. That he is the president this country needs. The world needs. I and my family and the millions of Americans who are less fortunate than we are need. Universal healthcare, pronto. Lower interest rates on student debt, or we may never be able to pay it off. Addressing climate change as the threat it is. Using the tax revenue from the wealthiest nation in the history of the world to educate our people, build up our communities, ensure the veterans who have sacrificed so much for our freedom have homes and income and receive any and all treatment they need.

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who is talking openly about the need for better, immediately-accessible mental healthcare.

And I can think of nothing more feminist than an old white man who could easily retire and live comfortably doing everything in his power to empower those of us who have been marginalized, disenfranchised, made invisible, tread upon, taken for granted, and stolen from for decades.

Bernie promised that he will take his campaign all the way to the Democratic Convention; he needs every pledged delegate he can win to make the strongest case possible for why he should be the Democratic nominee. He has said, multiple times, that everyone in every state should have the opportunity to vote in this primary, to have our voices be heard. Every state – including mine. Every voice – including mine.

I have waited for over a year to vote for the person who I believe is the best presidential candidate this nation has ever seen. If you disagree with me, fine. Vote for whomever you please. Just do not tell me that my voice should be silenced. I have just as much right to vote for my candidate as you do for yours. I deserve to have a say in who the Democratic nominee for president will be.

To say anything else is completely and utterly disrespectful, a slap in the face, and I claim every right to defend myself.

Vote Like Your Life Depends on It

For anyone who thinks the major parties are the same, congressional elections aren’t important, or their vote doesn’t matter, please remember the government shutdown that happened last year and cost us $24,000,000,000. It happened because the Republican Speaker of the House chose not to vote on the federal budget in an attempt to undermine the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” – which, by the way, is the reason I have health insurance and can afford the medication that seems to be helping me change my life.

One person should not have that much power, but for the time being we need to ensure that person isn’t in the pocket of right-wing extremists who exist to do the bidding of the ludicrously wealthy at the expense of everyone else. They would rather allow people to starve to death or commit suicide than risk losing a small portion of their profits. (Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in Americans.)

The only way we can have a federal government that comes remotely close to representing us is to get a Democratic majority in the House, and the only way to do that is for those of us who can vote to do so – wisely.

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Here’s the relevant part of my post from last year about the shutdown:

I’ve been having a really hard time lately and there’s no end in sight. Sometimes I feel so hopeless, it’s painful to keep breathing.

This government shutdown orchestrated by a small handful of right-wing extremists who somehow managed to take control of the House is such a huge, overwhelming problem. I know one person who works for the government who has been extremely stressed out, and another person who just lost their job – I suspect at least partially due to the shutdown. I’m concerned for them, and for the hundreds of thousands of people out of work, and for the millions of people who won’t receive the assistance they need for Zek knows how long. The impact on the economy is devastating, and more importantly people could die as a result of this.

It completely and utterly infuriates me that the Republicans won’t even acknowledge that they played a role in the shutdown, never mind taking responsibility. […] All we need is for the House to vote on one bill that’s been sitting on Boehner’s desk, but that he refuses to call a vote on. I don’t even understand how or why the Speaker of the House – one person – has that kind of power. I thought our government was set up to prevent one person from ever having that much power.

We can petition them all we want but it’s like they live in a different universe. […] I think the only solution is for the American people to somehow take direct control of the House – at the very least, force them to vote on the bill that would provide funding to the departments that have been shut down (without removing access to birth control or delaying implementation of the Affordable Care Act / Obamacare for a year, thanks). At least then we’d have some semblance of transparency, a record of who voted to keep this country afloat and who voted against us all.

So far I’ve learned of one way to bypass Boehner and force a vote on the clean funding bill: the discharge petition House Democrats have been pursuing. I encourage readers (especially those in the U.S.) to sign this petition urging House Republicans to join their colleagues in ending the shutdown. Also please consider contacting your representative directly (House.gov). I know I just wrote that petitioning them doesn’t do anything, but I don’t really see any other course of action. People know that the Republicans are responsible; there are several races for Republican seats in the House where polls show the Democrats to have an advantage.

(But only if the people who support them vote!)

And here’s part of another post I wrote around that time, Running Red:

I read an article that said the Tea Party is actually pleased with Boehner and that this shutdown is part of his career strategy. That’s right folks, starving mothers and babies, survivors of rape and domestic violence put out on the street, head start programs ground to a halt, hundreds of thousands of people without work or pay, parks and monuments closed, a lapse in veterans’ benefits, etc. etc. etc. … merely the pawns in Boehner’s game of chess. If he’s winning, he’s not going to listen to our petitions – unless perhaps there is a massive outcry by the people in his district, who can vote for his opponent in the next (this!) election. Without their votes, all the support and campaign funds from his party will be nothing.

So please, please vote today, if you haven’t already. If you’re inclined to vote Republican, please look up what your candidate and other Republicans have been doing and think critically about whether they actually represent you, your needs, and the rest of us who aren’t bazillionaires in terms of the practical, this-world decisions they’ve made and the consequences of their actions (or inaction). If you’re inclined to vote Democrat, please stop reading this right now and go vote!

Additional Voter Resources at Vote411.org

Voter Lookup

Here’s the WordPress tool for looking up information about where to vote on or before election day: Tuesday, November 4th. I plan to vote at my local polling center that morning.

2014 Midterm Elections, Get Out The Vote!

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