Friday, August 5, 2011

Notes from canvassing: Part 1

Two days of canvassing, two days of thoughts on the recall campaigns

The following is part one of a two part series on my experiences over two days of canvassing. I have been working with different political canvassing organizations for the past three months, on the recalls as well as fighting against Gov. Walker's proposed budget. These two stories focus on my thoughts on the recall elections in the waning days of the canvass.

Part one: August 4, 2001
I'm a tired, sweaty mess. Today is August 4, and there are five days until the recall elections. The weather is humid, overcast but still hot, and you can almost taste the moisture in the air. My shoe is broken, digging into my heel, a small reminder of the pain this state is experiencing under this governor's leadership.

As a canvasser, I get sent out to cities and rural areas alike -- no potential vote is left unspoken to. Some people are pleasant, happy to see me, others are skeptical and rude. Those that fit the latter description are just as tired as I am, tired of the mess that Wisconsin has seen, even if they don't readily admit it. Government has become ineffective, they say, and so they escape despair by entering cynicism. I don't blame these people, I empathize with their feelings. But change isn't meant to come easy. And so, I walk.

It's not a thankless job by any means. Every now and again, I get a household that actually thanks me, endlessly, for what I do. It's my job, I say, and move on with a bit more hope. Still, all of the "thank yous" in the world I would gladly trade for a win on Tuesday.

I'm not a naive person -- I'm very realistic. Even if Democrats win the Senate back, they won't be able to reverse the damage of Scott Walker's agenda. But just because the fight can't be won instantaneously doesn't mean it's not worth fighting. This is one step towards restoring Wisconsin's values, towards the restoration of the state I grew up in and still love.

Walking from house to house, you have a lot to think about. I've thought about these recall elections, countless times. They aren't about collective bargaining, cuts to education, cuts to welfare, a disregard for the rule of law, or even the arrogance of the governor and his legislative allies. Those issues all matter a great deal -- but they are mere symptoms of a greater problem this state is facing.

These recalls aren't about a singular issue. Rather, they're about the destruction of values, of core beliefs that makes Wisconsin what it is, or was, or STILL CAN be. Those issues -- and others like them -- were destroyed in the wake of Walker's overall assault on our state's traditions. Bringing them back to Wisconsin will take awhile, will require patience and a constant struggle towards removal of his allies, and of him as well.

And so, I walk. I won't stop walking, not until the time comes when ALL of Wisconsin, not just the donors of Walker's campaign, receive the respect and attention they deserve from their governor.

The good news is that I'm not walking alone.

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