Hillary headquarters SF on the eve of the election
I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, this was the San Francisco headquarters for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, not some cluster of cubicles behind a crossroads gas station. It was three floors of bustling humanity of all ages, colors, shapes, and gaits. And at one point there were tacos.
Truth is, I hadn’t known what to expect when I agreed to make phone calls for Hillary. I had a vague daydream of getting real with some undecided voter, acknowledging that while she reflects some of the problems of our current political system and doesn’t make a great candidate, she’s extremely qualified to be a great president. I wouldn’t even go into how profoundly unqualified Trump is, but if they brought him up, well, maybe I’d offer some anecdote about how the rest of the world (outside of Russia) is terrified we’ll make the wrong choice and the USA has already lost standing because of his campaign, while poisoning our discourse at home. How he’s already doing the exact opposite of making America great again.
Okay, so I hadn’t thought that part out very well. I was counting on the moment to carry me through. Did I get that moment? How did it go?
Well. “You’ve reached the mailbox for 239…Please leave a message after the tone.”
I don’t blame swing state voters for turning off their phones en masse. Just as long as they don’t turn off their brains too.
I talked to a few people, offered help with polling place info and how to get there, though I don’t think I had any effect. But to be honest, that wasn’t my primary reason for going. I was there for a more selfish purpose.
This election scares the hell out of me. Donald Trump embodies the worst elements in our nation, all the racism, sexism, xenophobia, greed, and willful ignorance that stands in the way of our progress towards a better future. All taken to a degree of vileness that I never expected to see in my country, and gaining a level of support that shames me to every red, white, and blue cell in my body.
It’s scary. And fear is worse when you’re alone. I sought others who see the same blazing truth I do and are doing something about it. Whether calling voters is useful or not, these people were not willing to just stay home with fear and crossed fingers, the way I had. I went to Hillary’s headquarters to see the other volunteers. And I saw them.
The college student, next to a lady with pictures of her grandkids his age. Millennials in hipster hats and workers with calloused palms. A wide array of ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds, all responding to the same danger to our nation and our world. I was impressed. All the caring hearts in that building, giving their hours for something we all find important, for no pay or reward.
Except they did get a reward. A couple weeks ago, on a normal Thursday morning, they had an unexpected visitor. Who showed up with a surprisingly small entourage of a couple cars, stood in the small room and talked to everyone, incredibly personable and charismatic, genuinely interested in what everybody had to say. Regardless of the fact that she was standing in front of cardboard cutouts of herself, under a banner with her name, and her status as the focal point of all our hopes for the immediate future.
When Hillary visited those people, she imbued them with an optimism that is precious in our modern day, and especially important in this rancid season of hatred and narcissistic ignorance. And they held onto it, and paid some forward to me. And today, as I post this before heading straight to the polls to vote for Hillary, I need all the optimism I can get.
Good luck, America. Don’t screw this up.