*Note: This was just Submitted to Huffington Post and is awaiting publication.
By Jerry Waxman
Tues. Nov 4 5:30 AM. The office opens. At least, I think it does. I’m still asleep. It’s not necessary to be there since we won’t start canvassing until 9:30, so there’s no real rush, and I have to get today’s school programs ready to go.
7:00 AM. The song, Ooh My Feet! My Poor, Poor Feet! from Frank Loesser’s brilliant folk opera, The Most Happy Fella, comes to mind as I get out of bed. Of course, I could say the same about my back, neck, knees and lumbars too-it just doesn’t rhyme as well.
9:00 AM. “What’s today’s agenda?” I ask, fully expecting to be driving people to the polls since I have a seven passenger van. I’m told by our organizer that we are again canvassing and this time we are not just dropping off reminders to vote, we are talking to the residents and if they have not voted we’ll arrange to get them to the polls. It takes a little more time, but so far, everything we’ve been doing has been effective.
1:00 PM Finished up my walk pack and returned to the office. There is time enough to walk another pack as long as I don’t eat lunch. This pack has over 100 addresses and at that rate I won’t get back until 6:00. Almost everyone that I talked to had already voted and the others were waiting for their spouses to come home. That’s a good feeling.
5:45 PM The office is now calmer now than at any time since last Friday. Reports are coming in about the long lines at the poles and we are ready to go there with cases of bottled water. I went to four polling places where there were no long lines at all. Then the call came in to get to UCF where the estimated wait in line was about three hours.
7:30 PM The polls here are closed but our work isn’t done. We are now calling New Mexico and other Western states urging those that haven’t voted to get out and do so. Those of us not on the phones are tracking the results on our computers through various websites.
9:00 PM New Mexico polls have closed. Someone has brought in a wide screen TV so we can all track the results together. I stay at my computer. Every time favorable news happens we erupt into cheers. I was on the Florida Dept of State website getting updates frequently. We were ahead from the beginning and it looked like it was going to be a cakewalk, but with memories of 2000 still fresh in our collective memory everyone was hesitant. When Pennsylvania and Ohio and New Mexico were declared we knew the election was in the bag, however, we wanted our work to be validated. They finally called Florida at about 11:00 PM and then abruptly called the election for Obama. In an earlier column I stated that Central Florida was the key to winning the state and that East Orlando was the key to winning Orange County and Central Florida. Our East Orlando offices did the job. The vote difference in Orange County was 80,000, almost half the difference in the state. Last election the Democrats won Orange in a1000 vote squeaker. Because of this we were also able to send two new Democrats to Congress. The only drawback to the whole evening was the passage of Amendment 2, which denies gays the right to marry.
I opted not to go downtown to the victory party. I’ve developed an aversion to the noise and mayhem. I’ll celebrate my own way and in my own time-with my family.
Wed. Nov 5 Lots of work to do cleaning up the office and returning all of the rented and leased equipment. My organizer, Erin, lost her car keys last night, and someone took her laptop computer, which had to be reported to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Security has not been a problem until now-I hope she gets it back.
One of our volunteers, Lyman, is hosting a party for our three field offices tonight. That one I’ll go to. This is a crowd of people as diverse as can be from all walks of life who, for two months, came together for a common purpose. People whom I would have never met otherwise and now have common bonds with. We have all agreed to stay in touch and stay active. Many of us signed up at the party to go to Georgia and work in the runoff election. I even volunteered to go to Minnesota if they wanted me. What we have in place now is a support system for anyone in this area if they choose to run for local political office. That’s a nice feeling to have.
Thur. Nov 6 Reality sucks. All the time I spent on the campaign has taken its toll. The house is a mess. Our supply room is totally disorganized and lacking in things we need for today’s programs. There is a load of mail that has yet to be opened and the lawn hasn’t been touched in five weeks……….ugh!
To answer the title question, perhaps, but not for long. There’s too much work to do. Yes, we can physically enter our houses, but we can’t relax our guard. We need to start getting candidates together for next year’s local elections. We need to start running someone against Charlie Crist in two years as well as those congressional Republicans who held on to their seats. We need to challenge them now in order to keep them from being more obstructionist than they have been. We can go home, but only to get a little sleep.