Saturday, November 01, 2008

An Exhortation: 72 Hours

That's all the time left in this crazy election of ours. Certainly less than that by the time you're reading this. I'm writing from the home of an Obama supporter in Easton, Pennsylvania, who's kindly putting me up for the night so I can get started first thing tomorrow. Other Obama supporters brought fruit, baked goods, doughnuts, pizza, bottled water, and granola bars to our staging area today. Others made phone calls. Others tallied up the numbers from the walk lists. Thanks to two busloads of volunteers, I'm told that people from the Easton Obama office made 14,000 voter contacts today. The energy is amazing.

And underscored with desperation, because my goodness, November 5 will be depressing if McCain wins. The continuation of the Bush tax cuts, deepening our already horrendous fiscal hole; his erratic temperament; the militarism of his foreign policy; the lack of any decent policy on health care or education or energy; the likelihood of his being able to appoint more Supreme Court judges like Scalia and Thomas, vastly altering the scope of our liberties and even lives . . . Ye gods, people. The polls look good and we Obama volunteers are fired up, but we can't take anything for granted.

That is the negative argument for Obama. And the positive one is not just the man himself, his thoughtfulness and appreciation of nuance, his steadiness and lack of drama, or even his forward-looking policies, but this: We are the change we've been waiting for. Obama won in the primaries on the strength of the people who came out to caucus for him. The campaign has built the largest field and Get Out the Vote operation in the history of U.S. politics, on the base of funds from an enormous number of small-money donors. It's a campaign rooted in Obama's personal history as a community organizer, his belief that real change comes from people working together from the bottom up; and that belief has been lived out in the fact that an African-American man with the middle name "Hussein" has come this far and may actually be our next president of the United States . . . the best rebuke to the autocracy of George W. Bush I can imagine. As Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

So if you support Obama, if you don't want to see John McCain as president, you have to do something about it. Knock on doors. Make phone calls -- the tool at is a piece of cake to use, and most cell-phone services offer free weekend minutes. If you live in a swing state and don't want to make calls, find a local Obama office and take them food or drink or offer to give neck massages or answer phones there. Volunteer to drive voters to the polls on Tuesday. Donate money. Challenge any idiot who still believes he's a Muslim. Make undecided friends watch the Sarah Palin-Katie Couric interview and whisper, "A heartbeat away." At minimum, every expectation is that the lines on Election Day will be ginormous; resolve within yourself that you will be patient and good-natured and cast a ballot no matter what, and find ways to encourage this attitude in other people in line.

Today I told a woman on 7th St. where to find her polling location and helped a guy on Lehigh Ave. determine whether he's registered. We know from Florida in 2000 that every vote can make a real difference. For your own local voting information, check in here.

And then my friends and family members: This blog post is for you. Writers and Harry Potter fans: This means you as well. Random people on the Internet: Yep, you too. Less than 72 hours.

Yes We Can.


  1. "Challenge any idiot who still believes he's a Muslim."

    Is there something wrong with being a Muslim? (Of course, I'm aware Senator Obama is not, but should his supporters stop supporting him if he was?)


  2. I was going to bring up the same point; I don't think it should matter even if he were a Muslim. I'm hoping that the people who vote for him, do so on the basis of his policies, and not on the basis of his colour, or religion, or how many languages his kids know.
    On another note (perhaps irrelevent, I don't know) I'm not sure if an Obama administration will be favourable to countries like India; there seem to be more negatives etched out than positives here; issues like the Nuke deal are still sensitive around him. A lot of Indians are pro-McCain. However, looking at the bigger picture, I'm still glad you're pro-Obama. He has the potential to change a lot of things for the better. The domino effect that will create some good. Finally. Quite frankly, I don't think the world has the strength to handle another Bush-like administration. It can't be denied that America still has tremendous influence over thwe world and it's important to bring the country back on track. Obama is the right man to do it.
    People are talking a lot about the Bradley effect here, and honestly, it makes no sense, but it is, supposedly, a very real phenomenon. Let's just hope it doesn't ruin Obama's chances, and the man's got his head pretty straight anyway, with his whole "don't be complacent" attitude.
    Obama is the best man here, and thus, I hope he wins. I hope all your hard work pays off, Cheryl.

  3. I'd vote for Obama with both arms and both legs if I could. He has run one helluva campaign with a comeback or a solid explanation for every one of McCain's trumped up (or false) accusations. It's the campaign Gore should have run 8 years ago. One of Bush's worst crimes, IMHO, has been to trash our environment and to cultivate an attitude of indifference when it comes to anything to do with global warming or pollution. He's made our country the laughing stock of the world's scientific community.

    There. Now I feel better.


  4. Thanks to both anonymous and sharanya for asking me to clarify my comment. The Muslim remark was not meant to imply that Obama would be less fit for the presidency if he was a Muslim. But there are some people -- a depressingly large percentage (something like 20%?) -- who still believe he is, and who would not vote for him on that basis; and while it may be impossible to correct their deeply held biases in a conversation, one can at least correct their facts.

  5. Yep! I am excited! And a bit scared. Here in CA we have Prop 8 trying to erase all the thousands of gay marriages that have happened here in the last few months.
    A friend of mine. whom I've known since she was in high school, married her long term partner last month. They own a home, have a beautiful little boy and we all danced at their wedding. How am I supposed to explain to my kid that some how a law passed making their marriage illegal?
    I'm proud of my sixth grader for having debates at school.
    Keep using your superpowers for good!

  6. Cheryl,

    Just wanted to thank you for putting your time and energy where your convictions lie.

    Holding breath and holding onto hope,

  7. It is now mid afternoon, election day. It is an exciting and historica day! I early voted for Obama weeks ago. In 2012, I pray the entire nation will have the opportunity to early vote for Obama.

  8. Cheryl,
    Thanks for all your hard work for our country.

    Take a deep breath....we won....the country won.

    I look forward to seeing you Nov 15 at Prairie Writer's Day (Illinois-SCBWI)

  9. Thank you for all your hard work. I am SOOO glad it paid off! It's due in large part to people like you that for the first time in 8 years, I can say I'm proud to be an American, and hopeful for tomorrow.

  10. Thanks Cheryl, for all your work at helping me be able to say, "President Obama!"
    Ohh, that felt good.
    Joy is mixed here in California, tempered with the bitter loss of Prop 8 (though it'll be tied up in the courts for a long time, I believe.)
    But with President Obama (ahhh...) choosing the next Supreme Court Justices, when Same-Gender marriage does reach the U.S. Supreme Court, I think we'll have a fighting chance!
    Okay, just one more time...
    "President Barack Obama!" Darn if it doesn't make me smile every time!