Single people often get the message, either directly or indirectly, that their lives are somehow less substantial or more selfish than other people’s. When I was single, this used to bug me, but at a certain point I decided that, rather than arguing, I’d just make sure they were wrong. If I dedicated myself to causes larger than myself, then other people could dismiss me all they liked. I would know the truth.
So I started volunteering. And one of the most fulfilling experiences I ever had happened twelve years ago this weekend, when my friend Caitlin and I got on a bus in New York City and headed to Cleveland, Ohio, for a four-day weekend of knocking on doors and trying to encourage our fellow Democrats to head to the polls and vote George W. Bush out of office.
I dreaded the idea of pressing those doorbells and bothering people in their homes, but I had read that Get Out The Vote Drives are very effective–if someone tells you they’re going to vote, the research finds they’re significantly more likely to do it. Elections are determined by turnout–who shows up to the polls, who stays at home. So I figured I’d suck it up.
To my great surprise, I loved it. Yes, Caitlin and I encountered many people who were annoyed, who shut doors in our faces or refused to come at all, even though we could hear the TV in the background. But more often, we met really nice people, raking leaves or washing their cars, saying hell yeah we’re going to vote. We met elderly people who said they weren’t voting because they couldn’t get to the polls, so we’d arrange rides for them. We talked to undecided voters, listening to their concerns and having real conversations that were nothing like the blather on TV. At night, we hung out at the Cleveland Days Inn with other election volunteers. It was a blast. We actually got to participate in democracy, rather than just watch a bunch of talking heads yammer about poll numbers.
Of course, we were devastated when our candidate didn’t win. But we were also grateful for the experience, and it made lifelong election volunteers out of both of us.
I won’t pretend to be objective here. I am terrified at the thought of a Donald Trump presidency, and it’s my strong hunch than anyone who follows this blog probably feels the same way. So this is my plea to consider getting out the vote for Hillary Clinton. Whether you love her or are meh about her, please help keep a dangerous man out of office.
If you don’t live in or near a swing state, this platform makes it very easy to make calls from home (though it might be more fun to join a local phone bank). If you DO live in a swing state, you have a remarkable opportunity to help save democracy for the entire free world. (And won’t that be a nice thing to say to the next smug married who asks if you’re seeing someone “No, I’ve been busy trying to save democracy for the entire free world. What have you been up to?”)
I know it’s a little weird for me to write something so overtly political on this blog. But these are weird times.