I gave myself permission to skip last night’s entry last night.
“I’ve got to get my beauty sleep,” I thought to myself. “If she’s gonna win tomorrow, I really gotta give it my best.”
And so I went to bed, squinting my eyes shut in the dark and concentrating, in an attempt to get every last bit of positive energy out of my body and into the universe so that she’d win tomorrow, November 3, election day.
Even though I was exhausted already when I woke up this morning, I slammed the loud alarm clock, placed my feet on the cold tiles and slipped on my campaign shirt and jeans half-consciously. And on my way to the polls, I held onto my candidate’s (a woman) palm cards with certainty, feeling good about her chances against the incumbent.
We’d put up such a tough fight so far. The newspapers said it. A third party was giving the incumbent democrat (a man) a real challenge — unheard of in America! My friend stood by him fliering by the subway one night a few weeks ago. “I have to be here,” he confessed to her, rubbing his hands in the cold. “I don’t have any TV commercials like she does.”
“It was only $6,000,” she admitted to me after the count tonight, shrugging her shoulders in the cramped office. But they were messages seen by the people. Messages he didn’t have because he hadn’t expected the fight.
Even this morning, and this afternoon, as I stood next to him coming up with creative lines to win a few more votes for her, I knew we had a good chance. “Oh, c’mon, ‘the only woman in the race’?! If you say that, what do I have left?!” he said to me. I laughed. “What a loser,” I thought. “We’re so ahead.”
And it wasn’t just me thinking this! So much positive support about her came my way this morning. A man approached me at 7 a.m., raising his eybrows. “Excuse me, is she paying you to do this? Are you from an organization?” No, I explained: I’m just a volunteer. “A volunteer?! How did she do this?! How did she get so many of you? You guys are everywhere!”
“You know what you say to that?” asked the campaign manager, smiling, when I related this incident. “Because we really believe in her,” we both repeated. We laughed. Laughed like the opponents’s volunteers laughed tonight, as I campaigned side by side with them. There were four of them, and only one of me. And incredibly, I passed out so many more fliers than they did, screaming on top of my lungs with a voice that held so much excitement and c-l-a-r-i-t-y, I didn’t know I had it in me. It was amazing, and again, I thought we had it. And while I worked, they stood there and laughed, talking amongst themselves, not caring about issues or candidates but waiting for their time to be up so they can get away from the cold.
As I watched the count at the poll later, I felt the excitement rush through my body. I couldn’t go in because I’m not a citizen, and so I stood by the door, watching the poll workers reading off numbers from the vote machines. Bill Thomspon … Mike Bloomberg. I couldn’t believe I was part of this bigger thing. And then came the numbers for the locals, the city council, our candidates…
Back in the headquarters (her office) half an hour later, we sipped on wine and followed the vote count on an old MacIntosh computer. There was a feeling of exhilaration, and an undercurrent of calm at the same time. So much food, feasting on ideals and progress. Never had a third party done so well. At 20 percent of reported outcome, we had it all! And then, the numbers started shifting, more starteed coming in, and as the minutes rounded out the hour, it was finally clear: The incumbent had 75 % of the vote.
It was a wake-up call. Nobody talked about, but when I approached the screen adn glanced at the numbers for myself, I know my eyes went went wide. How did I miscalculate so badly?
Many reasons. Most important, the factors of the crook incumbent:
1. He ran for both the democratic line and the conservative line.
2. I was fine with the above, thinking that he’s making it easier for us, since some of his votes will be split. Then I found out about this thing in New York called “fusion voting” … “both lines add up into one total vote count for the name.” Well, no shit (excuse my French) he’d win because he gets votes for two people instead of one.
3. She couldn’t have run for two lines like he did. She tried and though everyone loved her for one other party, eventually they declined because they knew the incumbent’s power.
4. He voted for a third term for himself, even though the people had ALREADY voted against it. Basically, he’s not even supposed to be there.
But still, the turnout for her was amazing. That she got so many votes as a third party is quite amazing for America. But it still blows my mind. I’m VERY proud of us, but this nagging disappointment and this quiet bit of rage at the injustice tug at my soul. Basically the realization burns: We never had a fighting chance to begin with. And what’s worst is that it’s not because we weren’t good enough — we were better than the incumbent and his volunteers — but because America really knows no democracy.
That’s the cold hard truth. And what do we have to show for it? Tomorrow, we wake up with a council member AND a mayor who are in their third terms for the next four years, even though those who know what they’re voting for don’t want that.
And worst of all, now I get why the incumbent was so nonchalant and making jokes to us about our efforts … because he knew he’d win anyway, despite the “challenge.” He just went along with it to keep the peace, to appease us so we’re calm and ready to accept him when he took his seat again.
All hail the kings.