Before heading to Nevada to help on the final weeks of the Obama campaign, I had the brilliant idea that I would record my experience, whether through a daily blog post or weekly video posts, or most likely, the best-selling novel I’d pen. I’d capture every moment of it, I’d inspire others to do the same, and I’d not only have volunteered my time for the cause but documented it. It was going to be epic.
Then something happened called, working on a campaign. Which, as I had heard but didn’t quite grasp, is a bit demanding. After being immersed in and writing about President Obama’s achievements all day, then listening to the infuriating rebuttals by the other guy, or just seeing how much this election truly matters to the people here and how high the stakes are…at the end of the day all I’ve had energy for is about half an episode of something on Hulu before passing out.
Here we are, with less than a week left in this race and I have been sitting here trying to write about what this experience has meant to me thus far. But the truth is, I don’t know how to, not yet at least. I’m still too deep in it. But, I had an “aha” moment the other day at a youth rally at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and I felt inclined to share it with you all now, in these final days before E-day.
There have been so many moving moments for me during this campaign so far- seeing Joe Biden fire up a group of passionate steelworkers brought me to tears more than once, or the line of people who happily waited and cheered to see President Obama for hours, Michelle Obama speaking so eloquently at a local high school...but it was a very simple moment that made me realize that getting involved really does make a difference.
We had a rally and march with the students at the University to go vote, and I asked one young gentleman walking by if he had voted. He said no, that he had lost his ballot so he couldn’t vote anymore. I let him know he could go vote without his ballot, and he told me he didn’t have his social security card- I said he just needed his ID, that it would take about five minutes and he could go cast his vote right then. He looked so relieved, said thank you, and went right into that library and he voted. I wanted to just sit down and weep right there, I felt so happy.
I know that sounds so simple, and it was. It was one person, one vote, but it hit me- people need information, and sometimes they just need that nudge. There are first-time voters, there are people who are on the fence, people who are worried about what they need to bring or where to go- and all those volunteers who are out there knocking on doors, making calls, informing them- it matters. I guess I’ve always seen volunteering or helping get out the vote as some abstract thing, this thing we do to make ourselves feel better and to say we’ve done it. But the reality is, it is literally what can win an election. It’s that one person you might reach after making 20 phone calls, or knocking on 50 doors, or the student you encounter at a rally.
At the end of the day, you don’t need me telling you that the most important thing you can do in this election is vote. Everyone is busy, and the most obnoxious thing in the world is telling others what they should do with their time. I have spent the majority of my life not volunteering so I have no soapbox upon which I stand. But as a wise woman reminded me the other night, after a long, tiring day- we don’t want to wake up on November 7th and wish we’d done more. So I say only this: if you feel you have anything at stake in this election, anything to gain or lose, anything to say- spend an hour, a day, the weekend helping get out the vote. You will never regret it, and you may help change history.