Now Is The Time, And We Are The Answer

Way back in the day, when Elder Girleen was still just a babe-in-arms, one of the things that ended up giving structure to the days I spent with her was taking daily morning walks through the neighborhood in the company of a few other moms (and the occasional dad) who had kids of stroller-sitting age.  The “Stroller Brigade,” as we came to be known throughout the neighborhood, wasn’t some official club; it wasn’t an organization anyone had dreamed up. There was no board of directors, no officers, no fundraisers.

We were just a group of women whose main (and sometimes only) commonality was the fact that we had kids of roughly the same ages that we were staying home with.  We met every morning in the parking lot of a nearby church — sometimes there were 7 of us, sometimes 2. Sometimes no one showed up at all.  We walked for an hour  and mostly talked in the cautious pleasantries employed everywhere by moms:  where do you live?  how old are your kids?  Are you from here?

Would we have met each other, pre-children?  Probably not.

Now I know some of those folks and their kids much better but back then the main thing we had in common was our babies.  And that was — and can be — the most tenuous of bonds.
For our various reasons, we all needed those morning walks; we were wary of breaking those social bonds.  Thus, when we walked one morning way back in 2003 when Iraq was invaded, the fact did not even come up, nor did the politics surrounding it.
That was probably as it should’ve been (how could we have kept rubbing shoulders every morning if we vehemently disagreed?).  What we had in common wasn’t strong enough to overcome what we probably did not.
But the time for such careful politesse is, I think, long past. At this moment, politics does belong on the playground, around the water cooler, everywhere.
All of which is a long preamble to the passionate and eloquent call-to-action I received from a friend today:
I don’t know about you but I am getting more and more scared as I watch the news.  There’s never been a party quite like the Dems from snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but even without any obvious missteps, with the best ticket I’ve seen in my life, and with Americans nearly unanimous in seeing deep deep flaws in how the past eight years have been handled, I can see that we might lose this one.  And the stakes have never been higher.
So what to do?  Last weekend  I rounded up a bunch of friends, and used the Obama website and local listserves to take a caravan of cars to go canvass in nearby Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  It’s one thing to read in the paper about disaffected white ethnic voters, or soldiers who return from Iraq telling stories of having to fight without enough body armor (or bullets!), but it’s quite another thing to actually see those people face to face.
Canvassing is not really that hard but it’s not easy either.  The folks at the Bucks County field office were super-organized, and when we showed up they had packets with lists of doors to knock on, and good maps, and they got us trained and out the door pretty fast.  At first it feels embarrassing to knock on the door of total strangers (but then at first it must feel embarrassing to go trick or treating too, right, and somehow we got over that hump pretty easily).  After a couple of houses, you get in a rhythm.  I was lucky and went with a good friend, so we had the unexpected bonus of some mommy time in between houses, catching up on summer vacations, the beginning of school, and the delicate balance of survival as a working mom.
The goal is to connect with people.  If they are hard and fast for McCain, then it’s just “thank you, have a nice day.”  For the undecideds, we asked them what issues were important to them, and then shared our thoughts about where the candidates stand on those.  We tried to move those leaning toward Obama into strong Obama voters, sought out strong Obama voters as prospective volunteers, and made sure that those who voted for Hillary were moving (or already moved) into the Obama camp.  Since my friend who accompanied me was a big Hillary supporter herself, she was sort of a “secret weapon” on the trail, talking about the commonalities in Obama’s and Hillary’s agendas.
With eight adults and three children divided into four teams, we knocked on about 200 doors and earned probably 10 votes.  It takes effort, and energy, but ultimately nothing is more effective than showing up as a volunteer, being the heart and soul of a movement, demonstrating that you care enough about what this election stands for to get up off the couch and do something about it.  If you are religious, think of this as praying with your feet.  (Whether you are religious or not, think of this as stopping the scary slide toward becoming a theocracy!)
If we lose, it’s our fault for not doing enough — and we will get the goverment that we deserve.
So why am I writing?  *To encourage you to get involved.*  If you live in or near a swing state — Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia are all really important but so are some others — then hit the trail.  It’s so easy — just go to the Obama website, click on “states,” then find a local field office and call them up.  They will be happy to hear from you and will give you everything you need to get started.
*If you don’t live near a fiend office, then hit the phones.*  I did this during the primary and while it was not as fun as going door to door, I did rack up several hundred phone calls for Obama.  Again, at first it feels scary to call total strangers, and we all hate telemarketers, but for the most part I found people to be surprisingly receptive to listing to the political enthusiasms of the disembodied voice of a total stranger.
I’m exhausted too, and behind on my work, and the house is a mess, and I desperately need a pedicure.  But for the moment all that’s on hold….
Ask yourself what you can do — and then get out and do it.
Don’t know about you, but after reading that, I’m signing off now to figure out how to get down Florida this weekend.