Why Did I Go to Ohio?

NOTE: I wrote most of this yesterday on the flight back from Ohio, but decided to spend some time thinking about it and editing. I also wrote this post on race & these two (1,2) posts from Ohio.

(Geauga County, where I went, is the red one, next to Cleveland)
(from NY Times map)


This is the first day in a long, long time I’ve felt real hope. The end of the of 2006 elections was a relief & it meant that the long nightmare was at least ending. But it wasn’t a time to start a new national dream. Today is that day. The last eight years have shattered almost everything that I loved about our country. We have laid bare all the ugliness we are capable of as a people*. We have done and said things I believed were impossible for us until we did and became those things. It was 8 years of looking in the mirror and finding evil and ugliness. It has been a hard, hard time (tears come to my eyes even thinking about it). What a beautiful way to turn the page. The difference between just yesterday and today is best summarized by Barack himself, as he said last night:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

I spent the last two days of the campaign working on getting out our vote in Republican Geauga (“Gee-Og-A”) County. Just how Republican?:


(I particularly liked the “I’m a BITTER Gun Owner & I VOTE” sign). McPalin signs outnumbered us about 8-1 in the particular precinct I was working, but for the county we hoped to get 43% of the vote nonetheless. This would help offset the pressure on Ohio’s more democratic areas. We got 42% in the end. (Mandy, Amy & Matt – you ROCK!). My last day was spent driving around knocking on doors, leaving polling place info, talking to the few (but enthusiastic) Obama voters, observing Amish, and getting the sheriff called on me. Also, I managed to do this :

(thank you Geauga County Volunteer Fire Department)

As red as the area was, and as apprehensive as I was about leaving state HQ, it felt really, really good to be a part of the effort in an area that needed it and in fact to be a part of that area’s success.

That actually brings me to the question of why did I go to Ohio? Did they really need my help? Would things have been different If I didn’t go there & put in 19 days of (honestly) around 14 hours a day of work? Well, yes and no. On a small scale, I don’t believe for a second that my tiny role in such a vast enterprise** was of great significance. But as true as that is, I also know I helped a lot and the campaign was better for me putting my skill and enthusiasm into play. But that is just a small scale. On a larger, and more important, scale the fact is that without people in aggregate deciding that they could help in the same way I did, this would not have happened. That whole idea of “you’re just one person, how can you matter” eats at me constantly and makes me angry. The only thing that ever matters is aggregations of many such “one persons”. And in fact, there were many people there who worked just as hard as I did (if not harder) but had definitely been doing it for much much longer. Most of them were paid staff, but there is no way they were getting paid what their time and effort and dedication was worth. We all owe some SERIOUS thanks to the many people who worked so hard for months and months and months on the Obama campaign. (I’m looking at you Natasha, Jill, Amy, Campy, Gene, Eric, Romulo and Sam!)

And on a more “boy do I fascinate myself!” level, I guess the other reason I went is that I don’t like being a spectator. I like being in things. Especially things that mean a lot to me or where I think I can help. 🙂

Anyway, I’m home now. Thank god. I love SF & I missed all of you guys. I’ll be eating vegetarian for a week to deal with my Obama belly. And yes, I’ll be wearing my Ohio Staff badge for a week too 🙂

We have a lot of work to do, and Barack has set our expectations so very high. I can’t wait to see how this all turns out, and of course, keep trying to play my little part 🙂 And to my fellow Obaminos who took it to the campaign trail: Adrian, Liz, Bob & Kristina in Nevada, Eric in Wisconsin, Alpesh in Colorado, and Doug in Oregon, I SALUTE YOU and give you my sincere THANKS!


*Prop 8. Prop 8. Prop 8. Even now our worst is on display. This hurts so bad. A special HUG to Kelly & Brian who fought SO HARD for this.

**I can’t wait to read & hear more about Obama’s campaign. After being a tiny part of it, I’m grateful to have been part of something so impressive and righteous. The idea that we would ask everyone for their vote, not just those that we knew were Democrats, but push for a vast “50-state” strategy was fantastic. And the sweetness of the Republican-derided community organizer, winning such a vast mandate in some large part by creating a campaign based around community organizing, is deeply deeply satisfying.

4 thoughts on “Why Did I Go to Ohio?

  1. I assume you watched Barack’s speech at the Chicago rally. Did you notice that there was absolutely no trace of jubilation in his voice? His jaw was set tight and his brow was furrowed. His text was inspirational, while his subtext was that of a man with a day-planner full of asses to kick.

  2. On re-reading my comment above, I see I should have added: “…and that’s a GOOD thing.” 🙂

    (I nominate Joe Lieberman as the first recipient)

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