Oct 31. The Final Countdown: 120 More Hours

I haven't slept well for days. I think it started after the final debate, when Obama and McCain rose, and shook hands, and rose to stand with their wives and wave to the crowd. On one side of the stage, John and Cindy stood a few feet apart, despite the fact that he looked like he could have used some support. At the other, Barack and Michelle hugged, and looked into one another's eyes, and then out at the mass of people before them. In that moment, the choice seemed that simple to me: someone's got to lead this country out of the mess we're in, and into a brighter future. What do you want that person to be like: stolid, or warm?
I've never been a political animal. I'm registered 'Decline to State.' I was raised in the Reagan era, and knew about Watergate before I was old enough to play on the big kids' side of the playground. As far as I could tell, American politics was, at best, about making life harder for homeless people and artists, and at worst, about outright deception and fraud. I never went in much for fighting for justice -- it looked like a losing battle -- though I always felt a little bit bad about it. Instead, I turned my attention to my immediate community, to relationships, and to the arts, where I found a panacea for the apparent brokenness of the world in the beauty of what we could still create, and in the assertion I found in the arts, over and over again, of how much we still needed one another. And so I've managed to grow up without ever engaging in politics much beyond casting my vote -- until now.
Tomorrow, I'm getting on a plane to Colorado to work as hard as I can for the last few days of the campaign to make sure Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States of America. I'll be working on the Obamathon, a 96-hour independent effort to elect Obama.
The Obamathon is run by Progressive Future, and the director of the office I'll be joining in Pueblo, Colorado happens to be my boyfriend. Most of the time, Travis sits at his desk back here in Santa Barbara, writing reports to influence legislation to stop global warming, get toxins out of baby toys, and stop nuclear power plants from being built. But for the past two months, he and his colleagues around the nation have suspended operations in order to focus their attention on the presidential campaign. The best single thing we can do for the public interest, they figure, for our environment, our health, and for social justice in general, is to get Obama elected.
If I've been sleeping badly here in Santa Barbara, Travis has hardly slept at all. He's working 20 hour days now, hiring canvassers, sending them out to knock on doors and tallying their results, training staff, shuttling people around the city. Few people in Pueblo have cars it seems -- they just don't have the money for it -- so he's considering buying a fleet of bicycles from Walmart in order to get his canvassers out to every last precinct. I don't know exactly what I'll be doing when I arrive, and I don't care; at least I'll be putting those sleepless hours to work on something worthwhile. And when we reach the evening of November 4th, I plan to look out over the new landscape of American politics and see a government I can get behind, one that calls us out of cynicism and resignation and into working together for change.
I'd better go pack.

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