Politics along the Wapack Corridor
I’d like to share a story with you about a little cowboy.
It’s been several months since the OFA headquarters in Peterborough were closed up and our young OFA Field Organizers departed for new lives and activities beyond the Monadnock Region and the Wapack Corridor. Since then, as I have watched political events unfold here in New Hampshire and across our Nation, many times I have been motivated to reflect on what happened during the lead-up to the election and how close we may have come to a very different outcome. But, as it was, we fared pretty well and that “long arc of the moral universe” seems to have bent ever so slightly, but steadily, toward justice. Of course, that is not to say we don’t still have much work to do. Those on the Right may currently seem to be scattered and disorganized, but they still are fueled by misguided principles as to how our government should (or should not!) work and how our economy should be structured.
But as I look at the organization with which Democrats were able to deliver our support to the polls in November, I have to feel proud of that accomplishment. And I have to feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate. It was an organization . . . an army of volunteers . . . that spent the months prior to the election, from May through to November, making thousands of phone calls and knocking on thousands of doors — identifying supporters, informing independents and encouraging them all to make a commitment to get to the polls to let their will be known. And it worked !!!!
In the final weeks of the campaign, the efforts and activities of the organization shifted from “Supporter-Identification” to “Get-Out-The-Vote”. Beginning three weeks prior to November 6TH, OFA Teams were organized to concentrate on the GOTV activity and lists were generated to target those voters whose voting records might indicate a sporadic voting history. So, individuals who had declared support for our Democratic Cause, but who may not have voted in mid-term elections or who may have failed to show up during a primary election, became the most highly targeted citizens of the GOTV activities.
In Temple, our small army of canvassers set out to knock on doors across the town. We discovered roads and addresses that we never knew existed. And we discovered roads and addresses that, in fact, didn’t exist. But our purpose was to eventually contact all individuals on the lists and remind them of their support for our principles, to emphasize the importance of the election and to urge them to make a plan for when and how they would cast their vote.
This process took repeated passes through the community. One weekend, Honey might try to make contact at a particular address. Later that week, Cam might succeed in reaching someone at that address. And during the following weekend Rick might drop by to re-remind that same individual. Well, it did not take long for canvassers to start receiving some polite push-back from addressees. Honey would report back that particular individuals had suggested that we could count on their votes and that we didn’t need to remind them, but then those individuals would show up on Candace’s list and she would, inadvertently, attempt contact again. And so the process went on with repeated door knocks and repeated phone calls and, often, repeated complaints about the well intentioned harassment.
Well, there was this one particular household that probably received far more than its share of canvassers. I know that Honey and Cam both made contact with the residents at this address, and Deborah and I both had occasion to meet the residents, as well. Our first occasion was on a Sunday afternoon. We knocked on the front door looking for the listed male occupant. The door was answered by his wife who seemed a little stressed, and maybe a little annoyed, as she stepped out onto the door step holding the door slightly ajar but obviously focused on preventing both her dog and her little son from following her out of the house. She summoned her husband who, likewise, seemed bothered. I presented my quick spiel, apologized for having bothered them, probably left some literature and was on my way.
The following week, wouldn’t you know? The same address turned up on our canvass list, but this time for the wife. A bit embarrassed, I dutifully proceeded to make a visit. Once again, the young mother came to the door, stepped out, but this time she allowed the door to swing open and let her son – who was maybe five years old and sporting a large black cowboy hat pulled down over his ears – step out onto the door step with her. I apologized for having to make a return visit and we had a brief conversation about her plans to vote. While we talked, the little cowboy climbed down the steps onto the lawn and his mother advised him to not wander any further. The cowboy turned and glared at his mother with his bottom lip protruding with a disapproving pout. There was a bit of a stand-off, and the mother commented that he was giving her a little trouble this afternoon. Well, I turned to the little cowboy and gently suggested that all the cowboys that I knew listened carefully to their mothers and would work very hard to protect them !!!! With that, I departed.
Well . . . on November 6, we made one last pass through the community, attempting to reach each and every one on the GOTV list one last time. And, once again, wouldn’t you know? Deborah and I were assigned the little cowboy’s address – again !! And, once again, we dutifully attempted a visit. As we turned into the driveway, I was so relieved to see that there were no cars parked at the house, and I rushed to the door to leave a piece of literature in the form of a door hanger. Before departing, I wrote a brief note on the door hanger which read “Camille and Robert: Polls close in three hours. Please be sure to vote. If you need a ride to the polls or if you need someone to watch “Tex” while you vote, call me” and I left my cell phone number.
That evening, we stayed up late, consumed with watching the election returns and rejoicing in much of what we saw reported across the country. It was such a great night !!!
But on Wednesday morning – I don’t know how I had missed it – there, on my cell phone, I discovered this text message:
“Hi Tom. Just got back from taking Tex to vote Obama with me. Thanks for the note and everything you’ve done for the campaign ! – Camille.”
And that, along with our many successes witnessed across the Nation during those days, gave me great delight and made our efforts all worthwhile . . .
Now . . . why did I want to share this little cowboy story with you ?
Well, I’d really like for you to be able to share in that same terrific feeling coming from knowing that you are participating with a winning team. I would like you to be able to share in the fun of being on a winning team that is dedicated to shaping the direction of our State Government in Concord and our Federal Government in Washington. I would like you and me and all of us to be able to stay moderately engaged, even between elections.
And to stay engaged, we need to have reasonably active Democratic Town Committees working and playing in New Ipswich and in Temple and in Sharon. There is much work to do and there is much fun to be had. So, to this end, we have scheduled New Hampshire Democratic Party Local Caucuses – one for Temple and one for New Ipswich. Sharon has already conducted its Caucus ! The dates, times and locations are presented below.
My objective is that we attempt to grow a group of participants who are interested in remaining moderately active between elections. In doing so, my hope would be that we create some level of fun and excitement while establishing a process for educating voters to further the Democratic Brand in our State House District of Temple, Sharon and New Ipswich.
That’s it !!! I remain fired up and ready to go !!!!!!!
Yours in Progressivism, T Hawkins, Temple, March 29, 2013
TEMPLE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS: Monday, April 8, 2013, Second Floor Meeting Room, Temple Town Hall, 7:30 PM
NEW IPSWICH DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS: Saturday, April 20, 2013, The Backroom at Nennies 5 Star Cafe, 800 Turnpike Road, New Ipswich, 10:00 AM