Saturday, November 8, 2008

Election 2008, Localized (Part 2 of 3)

My excitement over the win of Barack Obama turned bittersweet around 2 AM Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. While talking to my friend Chris via BB email, we both realized that the Democrats would not reach 60 seats in the Senate, but we'd come VERY close. This made us both really sad and Chris found an interesting paradox: it didn't matter where Obama won, many Democratic Senate candidates got a higher percentage than him while some really struggled. I had a really hard time with this (and still do) because, while we made some amazing gains in both houses, I'm disappointed in the electorate.

Barack Obama's central campaign message was that it takes all of us to create change. He knew that real change only happens from the bottom up--not the top down. And yet, millions of new voters on Tuesday didn't take his words truly to heart. Yes, they registered and voted for him. Yes, I'm SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS as I've worked tirelessly over the years to get more people civically engaged. But people who only vote for the Presidency and no other races really frustrate me. I know there is about a 10% drop on down ballot candidates but for millions of American who are craving change not to vote for every office--regardless of party affiliation, makes me wonder. Were they just caught up in the hype? Will they ever vote again? What kind of change do they really want?!

President Obama will do amazing things for our country, I have no doubt. However, he could do many more amazing things with 60 Democrats in the US Senate. And, with more progressives and candidates for change at the local level, EVEN MORE good things will happen in this country. But we won't really know or see that.

Here in Utah, we didn't see much change and I'm very frustrated with this and take a lot of it very personally. I know I shouldn't, but I just can't help it. Democrats took out the very insulated, very wealthy Republican Speaker of the House. BY A LANDSLIDE. We had an amazing (it's my favorite word today) group of candidates of which I helped recruit and counsel. We had more paid staff and a top-notch field plan. We spend A LOT of money (which I won't discuss on this blog). But we only picked up 3 seats in the House, kept the same number in the Senate, & now have a majority on the SLCounty Council.

I take this very personal because I can not help but wonder, "What if?" What if I had stayed on as Chair? I built upon an organizational groundwork that was laid for me and was leading the county in the right direction. It was virtually destroyed when I didn't run for re-election and I truly believe that if I had stayed on, we would have won more seats.

I can't change the past and I will stop having regrets someday. I dunno, maybe I'm used to disappointment on Election Day and just had to find something to be disappointed in (I didn't even have ONE alcoholic drink--which has NEVER HAPPENED!). I've taken a break from direct political work but I now realize that we can never stop working or fighting to make our cities, counties and our country great. Barack Obama is a giant step for creating a better world. Now, we must all do our part to ensure it stays that way.