03 November 2008

Driving For Change

One note - This post has been held in draft at the request of the Obama campaign until after the election. All bloggers were asked to do this so that blogging about the Drive For Change events would not affect the outcome.

As mentioned in an earlier post, one of my friends from church is very passionate about electing Obama. She not only helped convince me that Obama would be my candidate of choice if I didn't live in California, but also asked me to go to Nevada with her to knock on doors and get out the vote.

So we did. Another church friend joined us. The most interesting addition was the fourth person. Our driver had posted on the DFC site that we had a space in the car and the guy we lucked into was absolutely the right fit for us. He liked the same music, was an In-n-out person, into community service, and interested in discussing religion, politics and all kinds of controversial subjects people don't usually discuss when they've just met. It was Divine Providence. (Trust me, cause we met guy #2, and he would not have fit in at all!)

Our assignment was Las Vegas. For our driver, it was her first trip to Vegas so we couldn't NOT go to the Strip. After checking in to our hotel, we took a short jaunt down the south end from New York, New York to Mandalay Bay. Then we headed back to get an early start the next day.

We had to report to a park first. This reminded me of MMM where everyone gets a disbursement clue. Each car was handed a map to a precinct. Again, we had Divine Providence because our Precinct Captain had gone to UCDC with Random Car Guy and was also a UCSD alum (as I am). He handed us two large packets of voter lists and info and asked if we could do both of those before coming back. Early voting had begun and we were going to the doors of sporadic voters and asking them to vote. Most of the people were registered Democrats but all were either undecided or Obama leaning. We did not knock on any door of someone who was strong McCain, but we did knock on a few strong "Other" doors. When we finished those packets, we headed back and were given another packet in the same area where the staging office was located so we didn't even move the car.

Exhausted, we grabbed some dinner, and then headed back to the hotel. We had entertained ideas of the hot tub, but instead we ended up sitting around and talking about everything until nearly 1am. The four of us really bonded over the whole experience and we were sharing all kinds of life experiences. It was very special.

The next morning we were back at the staging office to pick up two more packets. We did those and then headed home.

That weekend, our team of four knocked on around 350 doors. We met some really great people. Everyone was friendly, even the people who had decided on McCain. Only one person slammed the door on us. Along the way, we met really fantastic Americans: a convention delegate, a former Californian, a Republican dad who had just dropped off his Democrat son to knock on doors like we were doing, an older woman who shook her cane in the air with joy that we were reminding people to vote, an undecided woman on horseback who stopped us on the street and asked us about Obama and by the end was pretty sure she was going to vote for him.

We also saw a lot of foreclosure signs. In one neighborhood, a child told us not to knock on the house next door because "nobody lives there anymore". We saw housing developments that had been abandoned only partially completed. One woman told us that she was so disappointed in America that she would "not be participating in the election". That made me so sad I almost cried. I hate to see Americans not exercising their right to vote. In the end, it's more important that you vote than who you vote for. If you don't vote, you are letting other people decide your life for you and that is just sad.

By the time the weekend was over, our precinct had knocked on 5000 doors, and the state of Nevada had knocked on 100,000 doors. The one-day voter turnout on our first day was 23,000 statewide, a new record.

On the way home, we encountered a horrible traffic accident so the drive took about three hours longer than we had anticipated. But we just looked at it as more time to spend together.

I haven't bonded with virtually random people like that since boarding school. It was definitely a life-changing experience.

We plan to get together to watch the Election Results. We hope we will be celebrating, but at least we know that we did everything we could.

BTW - I still am technically "undecided". I will decide on Election Day whether I will actually vote for Obama or cast my vote for my preferred candidate Nader. But I hope Obama wins.

By the time I post this, we will know.

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