Election Day!

So last night, exhausted and sore from walking all weekend and calling all day, and with nothing left for me to do to help Sean Sullivan’s campaign, I went out and had a couple beers, then went home and tried to sleep. Like a kid on Christmas Eve, I was way too nervous, so instead I turned on the TV for the first time in months and watched one of my all-time favorite movies, Street Fight. If you haven’t seen it, go rent it immediately, because it’s completely awesome. And although, like most great movies, it has a sad ending, the postscript is happy.

Anyway, as I watched Cory Booker and crew on their downright frightening campaign trail, I thought a lot about the campaign I’ve been spending basically all my free time on for the last two months.

This is the fourth Oakland political campaign I’ve put in volunteer time for, and what really made it stand out for me from all the others is who I’ve been sitting next to on the phones every night. Measure N had FOPL members and some people who just really wanted improvements for their local branches, but it was also lot of librarians. Pat Kernighan for Council and Ignacio De La Fuente for Mayor both had plenty of devoted community members making calls for them, but their campaign offices were also totally lobbyist central, a revolving door of all the regular City Hall faces. (I don’t mean that in a bad way. I wish we had them making calls for us, cause they’re great at persuading people! I suppose that’s their job, but I’m a really terrible phone banker, so I always get really jealous listening to them.) I guess there are plenty of other campaigns for those people to be helping out right now, so I’m not condemning them for not coming in and calling for Sean, but it’s certainly a very different feeling when you’re sitting in the office to look around and see that you’re there with just a bunch of random people who aren’t going to derive any professional benefit from Sean’s election, but drag themselves in day after day to call strangers and stay late into the night folding paper and punching holes and threading rubber bands when they’d rather be pretty much anywhere else in the world, because they really just want the neighborhoods they live in to be better. They want decent sidewalks, or trash cans, or useable parks, or maybe to just be able to walk down their own street after dark and feel relatively safe about it. They’re all willing to do their part to make things better, and have tried to work with the current Councilmember on these things, and have been treated dismissively and in some cases, almost abusively.

I’m so amazed by the incredible job we’ve done on this campaign. After yet another long night at the office, I stopped into a bar for a drink on the way home last week. Two girls who came in after me started chatting about the prominently displayed Sean Sullivan sign on the wall, and I sat and listened to them go on about how Sean’s campaign is so slick and corporate and talk about the fancy headquarters down the street and whole elaborate operation and big staff in there and on and on like that. I was too tired to say anything, although I had to try really hard not to laugh out loud. Being in that office so often, I find it almost impossible to believe that people actually see the campaign that way, but I have to admit that I felt a little excited to think that we’ve done such an awesome job with our completely grassroots work that even a few people could be convinced that it’s some fancy, professional effort.

And we have done an awesome job! We’ve called until people are sick of hearing from us. We’ve walked until people are sick of seeing us. I can’t speak for the other volunteers, I guess, but every time I decide I’m sick of it and just want to leave and have my life back and have some fun, I look at how hard Sean works and it just makes me want to work that much harder.

I have no idea what’s going to happen tonight, and I really hope District 3 voters are smart enough to realize how incredibly lucky they would be to have Sullivan representing them, and that they vote accordingly. But whatever happens, I just want to say right now how incredibly proud I am of all that we’ve achieved on this campaign – even though the media completely ignored us, and the insiders completely ignored us (or laughed at us for thinking that there was any point in challenging a lefty incumbent). But I think that at the very least, we’ve made a lot of people realize that they can and should expect more from their government than they’re getting. And I hope that no matter what the outcome of this election is, people will remember that and start pressuring their representatives to address their needs all the time, instead of just resigning themselves to living with the piss-poor level of service this City is providing until next election season.

And also, no matter what happens tonight, don’t expect any new blogs for at least a week. I’ve had my fill of politics, and I’m going to take a much-needed break and spend all my free time reading my brand new translation of my favorite book ever, which has been sitting unopened on my nightstand, taunting me, since March. You can watch tonight’s results come in at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters webpage.

17 thoughts on “Election Day!

  1. scottpark

    Your geekiness–Herodotus!–is amazing and profound. Thanks for all of your work, whatever the results may be!

  2. Chris Kidd

    We’ll miss you, V.

    Get down with your bad-history-nerd-self. Herodotus is always entertaining, though I always look at it more as cultural/ethnic study rather than history. Cuz, um, it’s not. Thucydides was better, but so damn dry.

  3. Chris Kidd

    Oh, not better on the writing. I can’t tell you how many times I fell asleep trying to get through Thucydides for poli sci back in the day. I’m just sayin’ he was a little better at the, ya know, historical history part.

    But if you want crazy-ass warfare amongst politico-religious upheaval, go for some Tale of the Heike. The writing style during the Kamakura shogunate leaves a little to be desired, but the subject matter is badass.

  4. Becks

    Good luck tonight! I’m guessing it’ll be a late night for me watching election returns. I’m feeling good about Kaplan winning – I’ve gotten dozens of hits on my blog today alone from people searching for her – hopefully after reading my arguments they’ll be convinced. I’m guessing you’ve been likewise flooded by Sean Sullivan searches.

    Have fun on your reading vacation!

  5. V Smoothe Post author

    Herodotus invented history! Particularly with respect to the Classical world, I’ve never really been able to understand why people get so attached to the idea of things being “accurate.” Who cares what happened? History is whatever people thought happened. Efforts to tease out what’s true and what isn’t are only worthwhile as a foundation for exploration of why a people may have selected to collectively adopt a narrative at odds with the reality. Who cares if Xerxes cried for his soldiers or if lionesses bear multiple offspring or not? If his contemporary readers believed it, that’s all that matters for our inquiry.

    But seriously. That man could tell a story like nobody’s business. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

  6. Chris Kidd

    Well I, for one, care what happened. And history is definitely NOT what people thought happened. Sure, it started that way, but it becomes more and more the further you get from the event. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we’re doomed to repeat them. And if the mistakes of the past are set down in a way different than they happened, it’s that much harder to avoid them in the future.

    I do concede the point of understanding what people thought of their own history in different time periods. It can give insights into the motivations of individuals and the trends of society. But you have to keep separated the perceived history of some and the actual history that happened in the real world. It’d be like people taking Ceasar’s claimed virgin birth at face value. Okay, so people in the Empire believed it. Are you going to? You need to uncover the real reasons, events, facts and actions to truly gain the benefit history has to offer to present day.

    That said, Herodotus can rock an awesome tale. (history nerd throwdown is teh awesome)

  7. Rebecca Kaplan

    New election update has been posted by Alameda County.

    They have counted thousands of additional votes, and posted revised totals.


    By the way, I was trying to remember who said, “Democracy is the slow boring through thick boards….” — – does anybody know who this was?

    Change is possible. And takes time. Please, do not give up.

    And, for Sean (And SS supporters): I know, and I hope, that your participation in Oakland’s future is not ending — this is only the beginning …. (Barack Obama lost his first campaign for Congress, Harvey Milk lost his first campaign for Supervisor).

  8. V Smoothe Post author

    Ooh, thanks for reminding me of that one, Rebecca. It’s from Max Weber’s Politics as a Vocation,. The whole concluding paragraph rocks:

    Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth –that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain even that which is possible today. Only he has the calling for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble when the world from his point of view is too stupid or too base for what he wants to offer. Only he who in the face of all this can say ‘In spite of all!’ has the calling for politics.

  9. Max Allstadt

    Thanks Rebecca. Funny, I was just sending an email to Andre Jones before I read this.

    V is that the final tally? Lame turnout.

  10. Nancy Rieser

    Max – the last election the counting of the provisionals etc took over a week. Updates came in dibs and dabs.

  11. Max Allstadt

    Fingers crossed.

    He V! We need a new thread here. Or are you on vacation? How about a guest piece?

  12. V Smoothe Post author

    I published a new post like 2 hours ago!

    But if you, or anyone else, is interested in doing a guest piece, e-mail me about it.

    Wait – do you mean you want a new post that’s only about election results? I can do that.

  13. V Smoothe Post author

    Isn’t it great? Listen to Brian, people! Everyone should watch this movie. If nothing else, you’ll feel better about Oakland’s government afterwards.