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Mounting frustration - Miami Journal #4

I am frustrated and tired after a long day trekking around Coral Gables. The precincts we canvassed today had already been covered yesterday, and some even earlier this morning, making everyone on our team feel terrible for wasting our time and bothering the residents. Everyone I spoke to had either voted or was planning on voting Tuesday, or refused to talk to me because they were sick of strangers knocking on their door. My idealism about "getting out the vote" is wearing thin.
Mounting frustration
Miami Journal #4
11/1/04

by Ingrid Bauer

I am frustrated and tired after a long day trekking around Coral Gables. The precincts we canvassed today had already been covered yesterday, and some even earlier this morning, making everyone on our team feel terrible for wasting our time and bothering the residents. Everyone I spoke to had either voted or was planning on voting Tuesday, or refused to talk to me because they were sick of strangers knocking on their door. My idealism about "getting out the vote" is wearing thin.

More than anything, I'm flabbergasted by the lack of coordination on the part of the organizers sending out canvassing teams. There should be a way to determine which precincts have been covered, which haven't, and which are most critical. Instead, teams overlap and trip over each other, just doing what they're told to do by headquarters instead of deciding it's a pointless job and going back for a new assignment. I'm not used to such a top-down approach!

The people I canvassed with were the saving grace of the day. Our driver, an African American native of Miami, has been active in city government and community organizing. My interest piqued, I began to ask him more about Overtown. He told me that the big new developments downtown will displace many Overtown residents as well as the large homeless population. Federal aid for the poor is big business in Miami, he said, as local politicians use social programs to launder money. He has found churches difficult to work with because they want to do everything themselves, but at the same time they're critical to organizing people. Regarding the FTAA, he was on the streets last year, and he's seen "The Miami Model." What the documentary left out, he said, was that Overtown residents were also brutalized by the police during the protests. The mainstream media didn't tell their story, either.

Political discussions enlivened the tedious hours spent driving in circles. Two women from Peru were union members, and they expressed how the union had taught them how to defend themselves. An encounter with a Bush canvasser let loose our feelings about Kerry. I explained that I disagreed with Kerry on many points, especially on foreign policy, and was voting for him only out of desperation. The others felt more strongly that Kerry would do a better job on healthcare, workers' rights, social security, and judicial appointments. As parents, they worried about their children being sent to war against their will or joining the military because it was the only way to pay for college. Overall, their perspective was based on practical issues in their lives, not grandiose ideals about social change. They did not expect Kerry to change two party system, or end US support of right-wing dictators, or make "free" trade fair. I felt young and idealistic.

By now, there is little to be done except get people out to the polls tomorrow, encourage them to wait in the long lines, and to assure their votes are counted. I doubt many minds remain undecided or many people uninformed about where and when to vote. Miami, Florida, the country, waits in suspense for tomorrow night.

 
 


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Embrace your idealism

"The others felt more strongly that Kerry would do a better job on healthcare, workers' rights, social security, and judicial appointments. As parents, they worried about their children being sent to war against their will or joining the military because it was the only way to pay for college. Overall, their perspective was based on practical issues in their lives, not grandiose ideals about social change. They did not expect Kerry to change two party system, or end US support of right-wing dictators, or make "free" trade fair. I felt young and idealistic."

Kerry would have sent their kids to war and would have done a horrible job on "healthcare, workers' rights, social security, and judicial appointments. And internationally, those who support rightwing dictators abroad are the same beating us up at home. Embrace your own idealism, do not deny what you already know.

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