Vote, Dammit.

A couple of weeks ago I spent a considerable amount of a beautiful autumn Saturday knee-deep and totally involved in the exciting and glamorous world of politics and intrigue, out there amongst The People. Me with ponytail and clipboard, voter registration cards and a friendly spunky smile with attitude…in my long-winded way I am saying that I was registering people to vote.

I know, the activism gig again. I can’t help it. I am a bit of a nut when it comes to well….a lot of things and one of them is democracy.  I am big on voting. It may sound corny but I am what I am and I had a blast!

Me with potential voters

True, there was some hard work involved but it was fun work. I got to meet so many interesting people! It was fantastic. Portland is such a quirky town and I savored all that quirky goodness.

I was just recently downtown and was ecstatic to be back. My turf was a section of The Portland Farmer’s Market at PSU. It is a lovely and lively place full of Farmer’s market type of people, college students and tourists.

If you are ever in Portland on a Saturday visit this place! It is full of good food and an eclectic and interesting mix of musicians and street performers all under beautiful trees in the south park blocks.

So there I was with a huge smile plastered on my face asking anyone and everyone who passed by if they wanted to register to vote. I found out that Portland, being the kind of town that it is, a lot of people have already registered and so it seemed more to me as if I was taking a poll than really helping anyone, but I was enjoying myself in the morning sun, talking to citizens about really how crappy the world is and laughing a lot.

Perhaps I was enjoying myself too much. An especially loud guffaw marked a change of tone just as old sourpuss entered stage left; apparently my spot was high on the list of appealing spots for do-gooders to stand. He made it clear through a series of looks, handshakes and innuendo that I was late on the scene; this was his spot.

“I’ve been here quite regularly. Several Saturdays in a row.” He told me.

His lips were moist and his breath reeked of old coffee. He stared at me with big bulbous fish eyes that quivered as he spoke. I’ve dealt with this kind before. I knew his type…

This was a prime spot–must be because of the close approximation to the coffee tent and Pine Street Biscuits which I hear is very good. I had a cute little grassy knoll with a street lamp to lean on. I liked the spot and I know this sounds a bit much but I wasn’t going to give it up without a fight!

I gave him one of those looks I sometimes give to my teenagers: it’s the “Don’t even try it or there will be hell to pay” look. I have perfected this and it never fails to work. Today was no exception. Mr Sourpuss moved on to the other end of the park. I would catch a blurry glimpse of him from time to time fueling up on coffee: he’s quite the drinker. He gave me a sourpuss smile. I beamed my bestest fake smile back, after all, aren’t we on the same side here?

These women had already registered but looked so fantastic I asked to take their picture.

I registered 12 people that day. Probably not a lot. Perhaps old SP made out better. I did however talk to a lot of people. I have found in my travels through life that we are more alike than different.

I talked to some independents, a smattering of Republicans (Blue State here) lots of Democrats (again Blue State) and a few alternatives; two leaning toward socialism and one anarchist. I was surprised by the number of people who choose the option not affiliated with any party.

Most of the people I talked to were articulate and engaged and passionate about our community at large. Many of us talked about how life was changing. We spoke of the economic downturn. I did not meet one person who hasn’t been affected.  Most were hopeful, but wary and many were confused. Everyone I talked to agreed on one thing: this partisan bickering fighting between the two major parties must stop if we are to move forward and fix what is wrong with the country, not to mention the world.

Our children will inherit what we have created.

I encountered some indifference, though not as much as I imagined. I didn’t try to sell anyone. I wasn’t aggressive. I represented myself with dignity. I was knowledgeable and engaged. I was polite to everyone and felt that I was an ambassador of sorts. Maybe not so much just to register people but to raise awareness about the importance of voting, because it is important. Many people have given up their lives for this right!

Too many….

So when THAT date rolls around, whether it be November 6th, 2012 or some other date, if you are fortunate to have the right to vote do me a favor, do yourself a favor, do your fellow citizens a favor and let your voice be heard.

VOTE, dammit.

One voice may be so quiet it is difficult to hear…keep adding voices and it becomes a roar of a sound that cannot be put asunder…

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

BEST WISHES,

Strawberryindigo.

“It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it”

Eugene V. Debs

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Confessions of a Liberal Activist

Part One: The Confession

I must confess that at times I can have quite the idealised version of life, events and people. I freely admit this. It can be embarrassing, mostly it goes unnoticed but this last week it took me to places I have never been to before.

I noticed an ad in the newspaper. The back cover of a questionable kind of weekly that one can pick up for free around town. It was in bold print and in large letters:

Liberal activists needed”  I could not believe my eyes. This was one of those moments where you just know the hand of destiny is involved reaching out to guide you. I knew it instantly that this was for me.

I must confess again I am a political junkie nut, at least I was in my idealistic youth. I have since gone to pasture and seed in my garden, I have grown slow and complacent, this I admit. My flowers and flowery words have softened me.

I have longed to get back into the mix of things and shake off some of these middle-aged mom doldrums.

Women Voters Frisco - Registering shop girls &...

Women voters Registering shop girls & clerks (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

I am a sucker for that democracy thing. I admit that too. I am a rebel at heart and I believe in the power of the people. I imagined my life as a future liberal activist.

Working for a good cause with a good bunch of people, activists like me.  Maybe I’d be advocating for the environment or children or the elderly. Maybe I could make a small difference and earn a little extra money while I’m at it.  How perfect is that?!    I was so excited. It seemed so right. So damn democratic.  My red, white and blueness was swelling with a new-found pride.  Sure, the system isn’t perfect, but we need to change from within and all this noble gobbledygook ran through my Pollyanna-ish and earnest imagination.

Part Two:  The Dream Sequence

President Barack Obama discusses the situation...

President Barack Obama discusses strawberryindigo with actor George Clooney during a meeting outside the Oval Office. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I imagined hobnobbing with local politicians, meeting and conferring with political pundits and strategists, heads of state, dignitaries and great minds from around the world. Gaining valuable insight.  Impressing my new-found important friends with my brilliant political mind. Soon I’d attract the attention of higher-ups, who knows, maybe someday….

I showed up for my interview two days later, bright-eyed and ready for action. My pockets were full of black bic pens and a cool new pink phone and breath mints.  My hopes were high.

I do have to say I was surprised. I imagined something quite different when I saw the office. I thought the democrats were loaded. This place was humble for sure and disorganized. I smiled and thought maybe I could help here too.
Everyone was stressed and a bit off.

Of course this was the hand of destiny again. They needed my help. I knew it. It was the easiest job interview I have ever been to. I was made for this and I couldn’t wait to show my new employer just what an active activist I would be. My head was swimming with ambition.

Part Three: Cold Reality

I'm not angry, just me messin' around on a col...

I'm an angry man (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And now for something completely different as I find myself  on a soggy street corner in the pouring rain in an overpriced ritzy part of town with a clipboard wearing an old tie-dye, a smile and loads of enthusiasm.

I look for my people, my fellow concerned citizens, fellow taxpayers and democratic cohorts, where are they?  I scan the silent streets, all I hear is rain. Drip, drip, drip all over my glossy photos and donkey propaganda.

Was this the hand of fate again? perhaps. Stupidity on my part? Yes. Stupidity on the Democrats part? For sure.  But the truth of the matter it seemed was that despite all my idealism and earnestness, I couldn’t make someone care who doesn’t and that some people can be downright mean and nobody likes anyone with a clipboard and a cause in the rain no matter how enthusiastic that person pretends to be.

So I am swimming again this time in reality, finally understanding why this job was so easy to get…..I yearn for warmth and caffeine with whipped milk…. for a smiling face, for easy listening music and overpriced coffee cake…yes, that’s it!  Starbucks!

I look around..and believe it or not, and this fact is difficult to believe but there is not a Starbucks on every street like it seems.  To get to the promised land I would have to leave my assigned area and forge out to the great unknown to find what I needed so badly: A Chai Latte and some sanity…

Walnut cinnamon coffee cake with chai latte

Walnut cinnamon coffee cake with chai latte (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dare to Dream

So I embark, clipboard in tow and with my mood improving. I scan the streets for my heart’s desire……and there…. he is!   No, not my heart’s desire, but the man who saved me that day. There he was pouring his heart out on the street corner, his cute little pointed hat stood proudly on his tiny head. His face clenched with concentration and fear mixed with pure ecstasy. His violin sputtered and creaked a painful sounding “Somewhere over the rainbow.” I stopped and listened, I almost started to cry.

There he was putting himself out there, following a dream perhaps or maybe just trying to make a fast buck on the side. Whatever it was his obvious lack of any musical talent or ability whatsoever didn’t get in the way of his soul. I could hear it. It was beautiful and it buoyed my spirits.

Judy Garland Over the Rainbow 2.jpg

I saw it as a sign. I gave the little man a dollar and with that act, my luck seemed to change and rather abruptly. The sun broke through the clouds.

I could hear Judy Garland, urging me on….telling me….”Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue And the dreams that you dare to dream, Really do come true.” 

After that there was no stopping me…. Enhanced Rainbow

 Stay tuned as my adventure continues…..

Strawberryindigo.