Sunday, November 04, 2012

Souls to the Polls: Sunday, November 5, 2012

The big Get Out The Vote effort today is Souls to the Polls.  Churches, particularly African-American churches, throughout the region have organized to get their congregations to the Summit County Board of Elections for early voting (1-5 p.m., 470 Grant St. in case you read this and want to join the fun).  Even though the temperature outside today (and yesterday) has averaged around 39F, their are long lines waiting patiently.  Various organizations are grilling out while celebrities such as Aisha Tyler keeping the crowd piously entertained.

TwitPict by Jonathan Weisman, NYTimes
Barack Obama's candidacy has become contentious for some Black church folk, for his pro-choice stand and recent support of gay marriage.  The reluctance of some ministers to encourage their congregations to early vote (not to mention voting at all) has upset many of my parents' old friends.  Last election some of them canvassed door-to-door, all of them cooked crockpots full of delicious stews, soups and chilis, and helped at endless phone banks.  Four years later they are older, sicker but no less determined to see Barack Obama re-elected.

So I am encouraged by the reported turn out (we can't get there since we are staffing a canvass staging location in West Akron).  It has been fascinating watching the women we work with at the local office realize Pat and I are partners.  First there is cautious observation of our behavior.  They love the president but maybe don't know many out queer people (they all know someone queer, generally in the choir of their church, usually quite closeted).   Once they realize that we can cover lots of territory on a canvass, willingly make endless phone calls and generally do anything we are told to do they seem to decide that maybe President Obama was right.

So here's to showing up, the first and most important rule for becoming a good organizer.

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