The Grassroots Are Greener on the Same side
This was first published in the “Word Courier’s Journal” June 5, 2012
I recently completed my third field canvassing junket to Milwaukee. Our group of Obama supporters visited on this past Sunday. The nine of us went there with purpose knowing that Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall election will be held today. Each of us is aware of the importance that Wisconsin replaces Gov. Scott Walker with his opponent, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett. As a result, we spoke with every voter we could.
It was during the ride back home, amidst our discussions of all things political, that something occurred to me. The year 2012 marks my 30th anniversary as a grassroots campaigner. I began in 1982 beating the local precincts path in my mid-sized Illinois hometown. Our candidate was a wonderful lady who was tragically killed in an automobile accident shortly after winning the Democratic primary to retain her county board seat. It gave me pause to think of former Will County board member Jane Mills Reed, the charismatic figure who introduced me to politics.
Thereafter, I would canvass by phone and in the streets on and off for the next thirty years. The campaigning included supporting Jesse Jackson’s presidential bids in Iowa’s first in the nation caucuses while a college student in the 80’s. I also walked the wards of Chicago, hosted phone banks and toiled the precinct fields of various Midwest states.
The campaign experience has showed me a thing or two. It may sound corny, but democracy revolves around these people power efforts. The technological changes that have taken place from 1982 until now have completely altered our world. Yet, for all the tweeting, texting, friending, blogs, television, and money, one thing remains clear: word of mouth never goes out of style. Conversations still matter.
Wisconsin’s people brought about today’s election despite facing a pair of billionaire brothers and their Tea Party flunkies. The demonstrations, marches, and picketing have held steadfast against Tea Party tyranny. To end oppression, to preserve liberty, and attain all these other lofty aspirations it boils down to one factor: someone must care.
People who care enough to volunteer following an eight-hour workday surrounded by one-hour commutes, parents who alter their life schedules for the cause and students who add canvassing to the pressure of a full class load are just a few examples of the grassroots soldiers that man (and woman) the trenches in the war to combat tyranny and enable the survival of democracy. I am truly thankful for those who care.
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