Election Day 2008

A time of waiting.

The email Jan sent this morning to all the people who aided in her campaign:

Thank you for all your hard work on my campaign.  All precincts have been walked, all signs posted, all letters to the editor published, all events beautifully hosted and productive, and all campaign materials distributed. We have all done our level best, and win or lose, deserve to take a bow. See you tonight at Linnea’s 8-11!

Gratefully yours,


Sunday morning I got a call from Megan, one of the students I’ve worked with on Focus the Nation at Cal Poly for the past year.  She was in Las Vegas walking precincts to get out the vote for Obama but wanted to let me know that she’d found a couple more volunteers to talk to residents and distribute flyers in student residences for Jan.  Cassidy biked over on Sunday and took a couple of hundred and spent three and a half hours canvassing Sunday night, and Tyler biked over yesterday and took 150 to pass out in Mustang Village before his 2pm class.

In the past, relatively few students voted, and only a few of those voted locally rather than in their home districts.  The information about students on the registered voter lists was outdated, since they tended to change residence every year. So back in September we had decided not to try to cover the student apartment buildings in our precinct walking. But as election day neared, we discovered while knocking on doors that many more students than those on our local voter lists were registered and most were excited about meeting the candidate herself and also the guy with the Jan Marx sticker on his hat who identified himself as her husband.

So after we used up the thousands of slick campaign brochures we’d been distributing for the last two months,  Jan photocopied one, and on the reverse side added a letter to the paper by Chad, who’d written a column in her favor in the student newspaper on behalf of Empower Poly, the coalition of 23 student clubs dedicated to various Sustainability initiatives.  In the last four days she had hundreds of these printed up at Kinko’s for the two of us and the student volunteers to use for mass distribution. When we ran out she printed another 100 on her office copier and then it jammed.

At two p.m. yesterday we got a call from the manager of Mustang Village complaining about the leaflets being clipped to doors and requesting their removal.  I drove over there before picking up Ian at school and taking him to karate and found that most leaflets had already been taken, but I dashed through the hallways grabbing the 50 or so that were left.  Only one more student precinct remained for me to do, after Karate, and in it I found enough voters to take the 50 pink ones Jan had printed along with the 50 that I had retrieved from Mustang Village.  At 6:15 p.m. on election eve, I ran out of materials and out of people to hand them to.

Jan’s City Council run is of course a tiny piece of this epochal national election.  But despite my initial ambivalence about how much of my life it took up, this closing episode makes me look back with the kind of satisfaction she expresses so deeply in her message.  Mine comes from having done the best job I could and from always accepting her wise leadership.

P.S. In this magical interval of waiting, as the scales hang in balance, I retrieve this journal entry from a moment sixteen years ago, when hope could bloom:

Nov. 4 1992

The Bush-Reagan era is over; a man who refused to fight in Vietnam has been elected president. Two women are now the Senators from California.  There is an majority of environmentalists on both the City Council and the  County Board of Supervisors.  Last night the wildflower seeds I planted all over the hillside in the backyard sprouted and came up.

May it return.

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