Cleveland, I love you.
I love you from the gritty parking lots of the flats to the boarded up houses standing like bookends in neighborhoods struggling to survive. I love you because even though you are hurting and depressed you pulled yourself up and got to the polls. I love you because given the opportunity you voted early downtown at the Board of Elections after work, day after day after day through the month of October. I love you because on November 4, 2008, you got up at the break of dawn to stand in line in the cold and dark for hours so you could mark that circle and make history. I love you because you got there even though you were sick, or just had a baby, or were so bent from age and years of hard work it took you 15 minutes to walk the 100 yards from your car to the polling place.
I love you because, even before November 4th, you knocked on doors, made phone calls and kept faith, even when you were attacked. I love you because you shared your heart with me over these past 6 weeks when you committed to making sure Ohio went to Obama.
And what a heart you have.
You embraced with kindness the hundreds of volunteers who came to our city.
You stood in line hours and hours to vote, without complaint.
Your children stood with you, hours and hours, without complaint.
You drove you grandmother to the polls, and walked her ever so patiently to the booth so she could vote.
You hadn’t voted in 30 years, and even though you suspected your one vote would not matter, you couldn’t stay home.
You stood outside the polling places cheering and celebrating your friends and neighbors who came to vote.
You were a brand new grandmother driving your daughter and her newborn home from the hospital, and because the hospital discharged her before she could vote, you stopped at the polls and made arrangements for her to vote so that her baby could have a brighter future.
You came even when you couldn’t vote because you wanted to part of history.
And you were – all of you.
This post is dedicated to the 15 year old boy who stood outside the polls on Kinsman, dancing with joy, and who said “I want to vote for Obama – he needs me, but I can’t I’m only 15.”
You stood there in the cold with the Obama volunteers until the polls closed; you inspired them. You inspired me too even though I couldn’t say anything then, you were adorable! Your mother should be very proud.
Remember, everyone told you to keep believing, that you would be able to vote (and work) for Obama’s re-election.
They were right , yes you can, because Cleveland and Ohio did what needed to be done.
* I worked the polls as a neutral volunteer on election day, so I couldn’t say or do anything to show my support for Obama. It was tough, but I honored the directive; I even removed my Obama bumper sticker. The day went smoothly in all the districts I attended. By the end of the day I regretted my decision to work the non-partisan end, I would have had much more fun as a lawyer for Obama’s campaign.
And they were extraordinary. From the hundreds of people standing in line outside cramped polling places, patiently waiting for the doors to open, to the two young guys who made it in two vote for Obama with barely two minutes left to go.
Any partisan conversations I shared were conducted after the polls closed and my duties as a neutral volunteer were complete.