I just arrived home bleary-eyed and hoarse-voiced from two days in Sin City (Las Vegas), Nevada. Did I go to gamble, party, hit the Strip, drink, smoke or make merry? Nope. Instead I rallied two friends and a friend-of-a-friend to volunteer on Election Day for the Obama campaign and we flew to Vegas to pound the pavement. Kudos to Swanner, Bean and Susan from Santa Monica for rallying with me!
It's 6 AM on Election Day, and we're lost in Henderson, Nevada. We're looking for our staging location to pick up Election materials and maps of the precinct to walk. So we call our designated local campaign volunteer, who, it turns out, has food poisoning. He points us to a nearby volunteer's house and we get our assignment. Time to hit the subdivision perched on the bleak desert hills where we are supposed to hang door hangers reminding people to vote and telling them where their polling place is.
We pound the pavement all day, making 4 trips to the same precinct knocking on doors to be sure people were able to vote. No one is happy to see us. At best, they sullenly admit they voted before slamming their doors. In fact, I'm not sure anyone in Henderson, Nevada is happy, period. One house (with two registered Democrats listed as the residents) has two different signs on the windows with pictures of guns on them warning that if you steal from them, you will be shot. I make a note never to trick-or-treat here.
Mid-morning, we take a break from canvassing to go do "visibility". This means standing on a busy street corner waving our "Vote for Change" signs. We get many honks and waves and one middle finger. The woman who gives us the bird is first of all, a woman and second of all, driving a semi. We decide Henderson could be nominated for "least hospitable town in Nevada".
By 7 PM, the polls are closed. We hit the Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay for a well-earned meal and watch through tears as Barack Obama makes his historic speech. No one else at the Burger Bar seems happy. No one is celebrating. We know we should go to the Rio for the big Democratic victory party but we're too exhausted. Something about the desert wind, the long walks through the near-empty sub-division and the surliness of the residents has taken it right out of us. But we are, of course, elated. We feel great. We helped make history. Barack Obama will be our next president. And that's all that really matters.
When we board our flight home to San Francisco, we realize most of the plane is filled with fellow Obama volunteers. Cheers go up in the plane when CNN announces the big win in Nevada for Obama. It's good to be going home.