June 4th, 2008

corset & bougainvillea

98 Killahs!

I am still exhausted and my thighs are screaming from all the walking, but I wanted to mention a few things about election day, also known as The Day We Kicked 98's Ass:

- I woke up at 4:40 a.m. yesterday to drop No on Prop 98 doorhangers at all the voters we'd identified as voting no to remind them.

- Dustin is a rockstar. Having never done any canvassing work, he was my road dog from 10 in the morning until after the polls closed knocking on doors to remind people to vote and doing poll-checks. Funnily enough, we were assigned two West Oakland precincts in which we each have lived. The polling place in my precinct was McClymonds High School. I used to live in a loft across the street from there, and it was outside that loft that I found Java.

- One of the poll workers came in while I was checking the list of voters and yelled, "Those heathens stole our flag! AND the flag stand!" I tried not to giggle, but it was hard.

- I got hit on by the security guard at McClymonds. It was like being in high school all over again.

- I spent twenty minutes talking to a middle-aged man who had told someone from Just Cause Oakland that he intended to vote no on 98 but now refused to vote. First, he claimed he wanted to be a "lord of the land" someday himself, own 4 or 5 buildings on his block. I said, "Well, unless you plan to buy them by 8:00 p.m., you're still a renter, and it'll be a lot harder to afford 4 or 5 buildings if you're paying triple your current rent." He then admitted he was blowing smoke up my ass and leaned towards socialism. We had an interesting conversation about Karl Marx, but he still refused to vote, saying he's a Jehovah's Witness and they don't get involved in politics. "You'll never find a Witness in any man's army because we could not kill another person who might also be a Witness." I said, "You pay taxes, right? So your money still contributes to killing people. Now, I won't argue with you about your religious beliefs, but I was raised with the notion that God helps those who help themselves. If you won't drive five blocks to help keep housing affordable, that's your choice, but you can never opt out of the system as long as you still live in it."

So irritating.

- The best part of my day was a 68-year-old Jamaican woman I met who wasn't sure if she could vote. She's been in the States for at least 28 years and has lived in her apartment for 12, but only registered after the February primary because she wanted to be able to vote for Barack in November. I asked her if she knew about 98, and she got very animated about wanting to vote against it but said she was waiting for her daughter to get home. I let her know I'd drive her to the polls if she wanted and would call back.

Well, I did, and she did. She'd walked to the wrong polling place and was back home. I drove up, she hopped in the car, and hers was the last ballot cast at McClymonds--at 7:59 p.m. Having never voted before, she needed help with her ballot. The poll workers asked her what party she belonged to--"Yes on 99."

"No, no--are you a Democrat or a Republican?"

"No on 98."

I actually had to leave the room because I started tearing up.

When I drove her home, she started talking about Michelle Obama, and I nearly died.

"She look good now! She gain some weight. She no longer look like a skinny ragamuffin."



"I want to move because this girl move into the apartment next door and smoke the weed all the time! The smoke get in my apartment, and I'm embarrassed to open the door--people think it's me! And you know it's the good weed, too--it's strong. But she always look mean. You think she smoke that much weed she'd be in a better mood. She could at least offer me some if I have to smell it all the time. *cackle*"

I shit you not. That woman made my whole damn day.

- Thanks to the many friends who pitched in over the course of the campaign. Seriously. I think I win an award for recruiting not just over 160 volunteers, but because so many people I know personally showed up at some point in the last few weeks:


If I've forgotten you, I'm sorry--I'm about to fall over. (Today, we broke down the headquarters and moved everything out.)

And thank you to all the folks who were supportive, got the word out, etc. And of course a BIG thank-you to everyone who could vote and did.
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