Roadtripping for Hillary 7/4/16: Independence Day in North Carolina
Guest post by violining247
Greetings from Charlotte, North Carolina, and happy Fourth! I am thrilled to report that the Mecklenburg County Democrats are hard at work, and I am so happy to have been able to help them out on the ground the last couple of days.
After a brief stopover in Tennessee, where I stayed with an old friend and hit a different sort of campaign trail up in the Smokies on Saturday (I mean, I wore my Hillary hat...that counts as visibility, right?), I arrived in North Carolina yesterday afternoon. As you might imagine, the Mecklenburg County Dems are buzzing with excitement right now in regards to the pending visit of President Obama and Hillary, and there was plenty to do. Our main project yesterday involved making signs for the event, so I ended up doing arts and crafts for Hillary. I should point out that I am the person who can’t cut on a straight line, cried while fingerpainting in preschool, and nearly had a nervous breakdown in a ceramics class that I took a few summers ago, so to say my artistic skills are limited is somewhat of an understatement (violin playing does not automatically transfer to the visual arts, I’m sad to say). But, Hillary is worth it, so I gave it my best shot.
There were so many volunteers who showed up for the sign-making/phone banking extravaganza that we ran out of poster board probably within an hour and a half tops, which meant I was relieved from sign-making duty just before the point of a meltdown. On to the phones!
Yesterday’s phone calls were actually a lot of fun...we were just calling registered Dems to see if they might be interested in volunteering to help register voters in their neighborhoods later in the summer or if they might be willing to provide supporter housing to out-of-town volunteers either short-term or long-term. I personally did 155 calls, resulting in 13 new pairs of boots on the ground for November. If that number was at all representative for our group of callers, I would not be surprised if yesterday easily resulted in the “Meck Dems” unearthing 150-200 new volunteers, who will play a huge role in turning North Carolina blue. **Shameless plug: if you don’t care for phone banking or canvassing (or can’t do it for whatever reason) and especially if you live in a swing state, consider signing up to provide supporter housing. Speaking from experience on both sides, it is SO helpful for out-of-town volunteers, and they really need as many people as possible for it. All you need is a spare couch!**
What is a day off for most U.S. workers is hardly so for those working on the campaign trail. We kicked our day off bright and early with a parade, repping the Democratic party and cheering on North Carolina’s candidates both up and down ballot.
A few candidates marched with us, including Christian Cano for U.S. Rep. from North Carolina District 9, and Connie Green-Johnson for North Carolina State House, District 105, pictured below in her hilariously sassy t-shirt.
Probably the most memorable part of the parade itself was when I ended up leading cheers at one point. I am not a naturally extroverted or loud person, so “cheer leader” is not a position I find myself in, oh...ever. However, I’ve learned a cheer or two from some of the Super Duper Volunteers over the past few months, and was happy to share when the need arose. Like making art for Hillary, sometimes things just have to be done for the greater good! And I have to say, I even had fun doing it:-)
For the rest of the day, our team did voter registration at a couple different festivals. I have a complicated set of feelings about voter registration. To start with the obvious downsides: it is summer, so it is blazing hot, and you are generally considered lucky if in an hour you talk to 40-45 people and maybe register 2 of them. This adds up if you have many people helping out for a few hours, but in terms of personal gratification, the numbers game can feel a little thankless. Fortunately my second festival was a little busier than the first so I ended up with 7 new registrations total for the afternoon (about 3-3.5 hours of dedicated work).
That said, voter registration has its definite upsides. I think one of the most memorable incidents I had today was the aunt who dragged her somewhat sullen-looking teenage nephew over to me, saying, “This one just turned 18 and we keep telling him just how important it is to vote this year.” Giving her nephew a look that dared him to defy her, she continued, “He WILL be there in November!” The young lad was a disappointed Bernie supporter, but he complied with his aunt and filled out the registration form. I was heartened that he officially opted to register as a Democrat (for the record, we don’t push them one way or another on declaring a particular party affiliation), and I have to say, getting to be the person who registers a first-time voter, someone who’s just getting involved in the process for the first time, is pretty cool. I hope with the encouragement of his family and fellow Democratic party members that he stays engaged and works to help make our party better for everyone, including fellow young ‘uns like himself who clearly found a lot of inspiration from Bernie.
With that, I leave you for the time being. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment...I managed to snag a VIP ticket for the Obama/Clinton joint appearance tomorrow afternoon in Charlotte (!!!!!), so get ready for another set of pictures and stories from the ground! In the meantime, I’ll put this out there: if you live near Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, what are you waiting for? Get involved with the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party now and help North Carolina Democrats win up and down ballot this November!
Roadtripping for Hillary is an independent initiative by violining247 to travel across the eastern swing states in an effort to elect Hillary and other downballot Democrats in November. To support this effort, please consider a donation through GoFundMe.