I was walking home through the streets of Juneau about 8:30 tonight. The rain was falling lightly, just enough to leave the wet sparkle, like diamonds, on my jacket. The lights of the city were warm, contrasting with the tall dark mountains just in front of me. Juneau is a small, safe town. One can walk there at any time, day or night. Only the worry of running into a bear sometimes slows down my steps. And that only seems to happen on garbage day.
Walking home, I reflected on the experience I had just had. Some of the callers were new, never calling before. Others knew the drill. One of the novices commented, “I never knew that I could make such a difference. I talked to some people today who were going to vote for Murkowski. At the end of the conversation, I think they had changed their minds.” She had started out calling with some trepidation. She wasn’t sure that she could be convincing. She learned that the voice of a neighbor, carrying true conviction, can make a difference in this election.
And, I also realized the immense challenge we face. In this, one of the most Democratic of Alaskan cities, we heard people who would be voting their fears. They talked of voting for Murkowski as a way to block Miller. They were often the least open to talking, as if ashamed of their choices. Others were anxious to share their excitement about Scott McAdams. Most were pleased to hear that they could meet him next week when he came to town. In Alaska, face to face really makes a difference. Most of the people we called were polite, often sounding apologetic if they weren’t voting for Scott. That’s what happens when you call a list of primarily moderate and progressive voters. I had called to Fairbanks and Wasilla (Palin land) a couple weeks before for another candidate. I met with more rudeness than ever before in my calling career.
But tonight was democracy at its best. Calling felt like it could really make a difference. Sharing personal reasons for voting for Scott McAdams helped “seal the deal” with our neighbors. Many thanked me for participating, even some who disagreed with me.
Today, after phoning for McAdams, I felt a sense of both pride and sorrow. As I said to the people I was working with, “This is the core of democracy.” Then , on arriving home, my husband told me of the news of the Coleman/Rove/Reed plan for a $50 million “house surge.” Millionaires and corporations are going to money bomb the airways to try to change the course of elections. Mass media will replace neighbors’ voices. It is much easier to lie if that lie is wrapped in Madison Avenue dressing. It is so much easier to catch attention in a complex race if you don’t care about truth or complexity.
And I ask, can this cadre of true revolutionaries, people who carry democracy to their neighbors through talking and walking their political beliefs, prevail against this machine? I truly believe it can, especially if all of us persist in practicing that democracy. I will make sure that I am phoning, talking, writing, and walking as much as possible for the candidates I support. I believe that we can elect Scott McAdams and others like him to our government. We can win. Please join me. We have so much to lose.
(As I reread this, it sounds a little dramatic and preachy, but that is my mood tonight – please forgive me for expressing more feelings that thought in this.)
And please help out if you can - money also makes a difference. Thanks.