On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Getting Out The Vote: Doorbelling for Darcy

With only 10 days left until Election Day, and absentee voters already able to mail in their ballots, it is time for me to get out from behind my laptop and help get out the vote.

Living in the 8th Congressional District has given me a front row seat to one of the most hotly contested races this year, and I have been writing about it since February. Back then few were paying attention, but today Darcy Burner's campaign could decide whether the Republicans continue to drive this nation into the ground, or whether we will finally have a Democratic majority in Congress that can start holding the Bush administration accountable for six years of failed policies, at home and abroad.

Make no mistake about it, without a Democratic majority the last two years of Bush's presidency will be just like the past six years have been. The Iraq War will continue to fester, and the call by a large majority of Americans for a plan to reduce the level of troops in Iraq will go ignored. We will continue to see more than two U.S. soldier deaths a day, and could possible reach 5000 dead by the end of Bush's term in office.

Without a Democratic majority the national debt will continue to grow unfettered as we pour billions into the Iraq War debacle, and neglect investments in the education of the youth of this nation. Today, each American, adult or child, shares $28,500 of our $8.5 trillion dollar debt. By the time Bush leaves office expect your share to grow another $5,000 or more. Republicans want to scare you with talk of Democrats raising your taxes, but explain to me how this debt gets paid off without reducing spending and raising taxes? But that's the Republican plan: rack up massive debt so that when the Democrats inevitably regain control they will have to deal with it. Well, we can either start dealing with it now, or we can allow Republicans to continue growing their Debt Tax at our expense.

Without the checks and balances of a Democratic Congress while Bush finishes his term, he will be allowed to continue to abuse our Constitution, and attack our values as a nation. As Americans we are all now tainted by the policies of the Bush administration, supported by the Republican led Congress, that endorse torture, redefine the Geneva Conventions as Bush desires, and have buried habeas corpus. Americans don't stand for this, but this Congress and Dave Reichert have voted to allow it to happen. Other countries used to look to America as an example of positive values, opportunity and freedom. Now other countries are saying if America can torture, why can't we? Is this the America you believe in? Are these the values you believe in?

As I said before, I started writing about this congressional race many months before it was on the national, and even local political, radar. I have been doing so because I feel that this nation has been heading in the wrong direction and we must do all we can to fight back, say enough is enough, and vote in a new Congress that will help turn us back into the country we once knew.

I have asked people to make donations and to volunteer their time, and many of you have responded. Yet while I consider myself a politically engaged citizen, I know that most people are normally not. As a nation, even the record turnout for the 2004 elections was only 63% of potential voters, meaning that 71.3 million Americans who could have voted did not. Of those 71.3 million, only 16.4 million even bothered to register to vote. In essence Bush won re-election with the support of only 32% of potential voters. Another 31% voted against him, and the rest, by not voting at all, essentially approved of the decision others would make for them. I am sure a majority of them have not been happy with the events of the past two years, but if you don't vote then many will say you can't complain.

This year, following two more disastrous years of Bush and the Republican Congress, it is vital that as many as possible Democratic leaning potential voters become actual voters. People have come through in droves by donating money to help the campaigns produce television and mailbox advertising. You've surely received your fair share of such mailings and seen the ads on TV. However, now is the time to help with your time to reach out to potential voters and help get out the vote.

Last week I contacted the Darcy Burner campaign to volunteer my time. They called me back and arranged for me to help canvass today. I had done this before last month so I was familiar with much of the drill. I have also helped on the phones more recently.

Walking a neighborhood, knocking on doors or ringing door bells, is vitally important to the effort of getting people out to vote. It is also hard work. I was given a single precinct on Mercer Island - about 4 north south roads and 3 east west intersecting roads in a hilly neighborhood. I had a list of 85 houses to cover and it took me over four hours to do so. While the good weather surely accounted for a lot of folks being out and about, a good number were home. The general feedback I received was largely positive and in support of Democratic candidates. I was wearing my Darcy Burner button, so it was clear who I was for anyone wanting to check me out through their peep hole or window. People I talked to expressed their frustration with the current Congress, and the strong need for a change, many indicating strong support for Democrats. People liked the fact Darcy wasn't backing down in her television advertising, and was hitting back when attacked. In hindsight I was pleasantly surprised that most everyone I spoke to were not bothered by my brief interruption. One lady thanked me for doing what I was doing. A small number indicated they would be voting for the Republican canidates, but that was hardly a surprise given I was on Mercer Island - I actually expected far more. If I came across a "No Soliciting" sign (and there were a few homes displaying one) I did not knock or ring a doorbell, and instead left a flyer. I also left Darcy Burner flyers at every home where there was no answer, after talking a moment to add a short note with my pen at the bottom that generally read, "Please vote on Nov. 7th for change in D.C. - Thanks!"

While I definitely have an understanding of most of Darcy Burner's positions on the issues, the campaign also provided me with issue sheets should it have been necessary to answer a voter's questions on a topic. As it turned out I didn't need to refer to them. The purpose of my canvassing was certainly not to harass people or get into a debate on their doorstep, and if a voter was disinclined at this point to support a Democratic candidate I would have been wasting my time to try to convince them to do so. What canvassing to get out the vote comes down to is engaging with people face to face, to show that their vote matters - because it matters so much.

After fours hours of criss-crossing the streets in the precinct in beautiful, sunny, 60 degree temperatures, I was pretty worn out (and in need of a bathroom break - Tip: don't drink too much liquid before heading out to canvass, but consider bringing a bottle of water to quench your thirst). My left hand was also pretty worn out from holding my clipboard and flyers. But it was a very satisfying feeling to have covered 100% of the addresses on my list, knowing that someone else wouldn't have to finish the job, even while over the next few days the campaign will want to try to contact by phone those voters that weren't available.

There are still many precincts that need such personal attention from volunteers, and if you have the time, any day of the week, please consider contacting the Darcy Burner campaign to let them know how you might be able to help. If you are a Cantwell supporter, please contact their campaign to help get out the vote. If you have a favorite state candidate you wish to support, get in touch with that campaign.

Every vote counts, we've seen just how much that is true in this state in recent years, and now that the fundraising is drawing to a close, there is a nationwide call for all hands on deck to get out the vote. On Election Day, November 7th, the focus will turn to ensuring all the votes that have been cast are counted, and volunteers will be needed for that. Regaining control of the nation from the Republicans, and setting us on a new course, will take a lot of hard work over the next 10 days, but faced with the prospect of two more years of a Republican Congress, and the possibility for change, that's a lot of very worthwhile hard work we cannot afford to not do.

Please help if you can.

1 Comment(s):

Comment by: Anonymous Dave Gibney

Anyone remember Richard Alan White of Randy J. Tate? I sure don't.

Also, it was the hard votes to support President Clinton that cost Jay and Maria and others the seats in 1994. You know, the budget that helped make the 90's economic growth boom.
I remember Linda Smith, she was a lucky nut-job swept in with the the rest of the useless, like Dick and George.

10/30/2006 2:04 PM PT  

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