Love letter to Cleveland Ohio

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.

Be proud.

* 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.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara
    Nov 08, 2008 @ 08:19:19

    Nice tribute! Here’s to good things coming your way, my way and this wonderful country’s way!

    Reply

  2. grisly77
    Nov 09, 2008 @ 14:13:33

    I think I’ll be happier when Ohio actually votes for “change”.

    Not a bill of goods.

    Not someone based on their race.

    Honest to goodness change for this country. Though I am in my 20’s, I still feel like I am never going to see that day come….

    Thank you for visiting and commenting – I didn’t vote for Obama because of his race, I voted for him based on his intellectual capacity and his temperament. I also didn’t vote for a bill of goods. I am not so naive to believe that all that is spoken in a campaign will happen. What I do believe is that every citizen must be and stay informed and make their voice heard.

    Reply

  3. Darryle
    Nov 09, 2008 @ 17:39:33

    I love this post and really admire the people of Cleveland, and Ohio, for being able to see through the muck of politics and all the spinning. And I hope things will spin around in a positive direction for Cleveland , Ohio and the whole country.

    Darryle – thanks for stopping by! I too hope that things move forward in a positive way. I think people have to stay engaged and interested in the process.

    Reply

  4. amandalinn
    Nov 11, 2008 @ 13:12:16

    This is a great, moving post. This stuff still makes me tear up. I still can’t believe it. I’m so proud of everyone for getting out and voting.

    Thank YOU for the work that you did.

    Hang in there. This goes to show there’s always hope, eh?

    Amandalinn, Thanks for stopping by – I live for hope, don’t we all. By the way, I love your blog – you inspire me.

    Reply

  5. Cheri
    Nov 12, 2008 @ 13:48:17

    As someone who served as an inside observer for the Obama/ODP – organized voter protection team, yes, you would have. (Of course, you would have been obligated to be non-partisan inside.)

    I served in a similar position (different title) with the Kerry campaign effort in 2004, and the organization was miles above what we had that year. I had a manual with guidelines, phone numbers galore & reminder text messages – even a robo-wakeup call from John Kerry at 5:15 am on Election Day!

    I got into an unexpected debate last night with a fellow Democratic club member – and pollworker – last night who doesn’t believe that voter protection is necessary, as – in her words – “we all get training”.

    Yes, pollworkers do get training, and I don’t doubt that most pollworkers are conscientious, hardworking individuals. But when my poll was opened at 6:30 AM with 3 working machines out of 15 – even with a election machine technician available – that’s a problem. Discouraging the proper use of paper ballots – that’s a problem. A presiding judge who not only does not know the rules of provisional ballots but has no onle else available who understands provisional ballots – that is a problem too. By deploying my problem-solving skills & calling my boiler room for backup, I was able to help voters resolve their issues & properly cast their vote. It was a valid campaign role, and although nerve-wracking at times, an fascinating one as well. (And hopefully that presiding judge has worked her last election, please Lord).

    Sorry to hijack your blog with my comment – I was just so irritated with my fellow club member- who I considered a friend – that I had to sound off. Join us on voter protection in 2012, when we will be working to re-elect President Obama!

    Cheri – I couldn’t agree more. What I saw in the early, most crowded hours of voting was precisely what you are talking about. Even with the early voting, there are so many things that have to be just so to make sure your vote is counted (like the poll workers signature upon receipt of a provisional ballot) that voter protection is critical.

    Reply

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