Sunday, November 02, 2008

GOTV

GOTV. It stand for "Get Out The Vote." It is the rallying cry of the last days of the Campaign for Change of Barack Obama who stands to inspire not only the largest voter turnout in American history, but perhaps a shift in the consciousness of our nation. A much-needed shift, after the seeds sown by Ronald Reagan have their flowering amid the meltdown of the American Dream.

My garage is a local staging area for GOTV. My area field organizer arrives early with his older sister - I'll call her "T," who will man our HQ with me. We suspend a huge "CHANGE" sign from the open garage door, and pepper the yard with signs and flags. From here, we dispatch volunteers to other neighborhoods in the vicinity throughout the day, armed with canvas lists and their own story. "Hi, I'm ______ , and I'm a local volunteer for the Barack Obama campaign. Have you voted already?" The supporters we cajole for a few volunteer hours.

All day, the cars pull up. Women and men by themselves, or families. Perhaps they have done nothing else since the campaign began. But now they have stepped up to the plate, because they know what is riding on a Florida victory for Obama/Biden. White, black, Asian, Indian, Hispanic, of all ages, they arrive in spurts of activity. T. checks them in, and I train them in the art of canvassing. Only one returns prematurely, embarrassed by her admission: "I"m sorry, I can't do this." After that we team up the more timid ones, though that usually means less doors knocked. But we want every one in their comfort zone.

The packets come back, unsurprisingly, with a comfortable margin of Barack supporters. Over weeks and weeks of door-knocking and phone calling, the lists have been winnowed down to predominantly Obama voters. We look for people who will need transportation to the polls, and press the able ones for a canvas commitment. And always: "Have you voted yet?"

Early voting ends today in Florida. On November 4, we decide nothing less than the future of our country, and perhaps the world. Regardless of the outcome (which I hereby declare will be a landslide victory), I have had the opportunity the past 3 months to see the best side of America, a taste of the unification of spirit that I believe will be the over-arching theme of an Obama administration. That has changed me, in late middle age, back to something of the innocent I was before Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were mowed down within 3 months of each other. I have always thought that something inside me was irrevocably lost that year. But is turns out that it was only sleeping.

The whole world is watching.

No comments: