Look, I'm busy. I have five kids in five different schools. I'm self-employed and I have to scramble every day to pay the bills, buy groceries, pay tuition, keep my little world turning. I'm a blue person in the heart of a red state, a small cog in a machine that seems to grind us ever finer. Many of you are like me, out there trying their best just to survive. You don't have time, you don't have money, you don't have energy. But in this final week before the election, I have a challenge for you.
The other day I was on the way to pick up my youngest from pre-pre-K, before picking up my second youngest from 3rd grade. The previous weekend I had prepped my 17-year-old daughter for her ACTs, helped my 19-year-old son write a paper for college dealing with racism, and spent a few days with my adopted child on his way from boot camp to school in the Marine Corps. I was tired, I was crabby, I was stressed out from the latest political bullshit.
On the way to my youngest's school, I saw a swath of green grass with a bunch of Obama-Biden signs out front of a tiny strip mall. I took note, but I was running late. The next day I was running errands, and I drove down that same street. I pulled into a small parking lot with a few cars bearing Obama bumper stickers and walked into the Hammond, Lousiana office of the Democratic Committee.
There were only three women there, and they greeted me with smiles. I explained that I had been meaning to become more involved, but hadn't had the time, you know how it is. I signed up to phonebank for two hours on a Sunday, promising to add more time as my schedule allowed. I sat for a few moments and talked to one of the volunteers, a 71-year-old woman who had been fighting for the Democrats for 36 years. I stayed as long as I could, with my 3-year-old snoozing in my arms, and as I turned to leave, the woman said, "We've still got a lot of work to do." At that moment, as I headed towards the door, a bunch of people came in. There was a little old African-American man, 95 if he was a day. He wanted to know how many yard signs he could get because he was going to "put them up in as many as my neighbor's yards as they'll let me."
There was a young African-American man in a Marine uniform, with an aged woman on his arm. My heart skipped a beat, because I saw in him the same straight bearing as my son had when I had seen him off to the Marine Corps a few days earlier. I stopped to shake hands, and his elderly companion slapped a sticker on my child's shirt, much to his delight, saying, "You're offical now."
That afternoon, I learned of Madelyn Dunham's illness and it struck me. This was a woman who had sacrificed everything she could so her grandson would have whatever opportunities life could offer. I know that feeling; I live it every day. We all hope for the best for our children, and even in we don't have children, we wish for the best for the generations to come. At that moment, I felt like the Grinch, not the crabby, selfish Grinch, but the one whose "heart grew three sizes that day."
The polls look good. Wonderful. All the news stories are going our way. Fabulous. You know, there's no way we can't win this. Great! But as that sweet 71-year-old volunteer told me, "We still have a lot of work to do." So I have a challenge for all of you, those of you with children, those of you who have no children, those of you who think goldfish are better companions: GO TO WORK.
Madelyn Dunham can't phone bank, you do it for her. Do it in honor of every kid who didn't have advantages, every kid who got bullied, every kid who had to grow up in a one-parent home. Do it for every time someone lied, for every time someone cheated, for every time someone told you it can't be done. DO IT.
It is not paramount that Barack Obama is the first person of non-white descent to get a shot at the presidency, although that is a big deal. The point is this is when we say "ENOUGH." This is when we say the politics of division is toxic. This is when we say, "We are all Americans." This is when we stand up to everything that is toxic and everything that is unfair and everything that makes us less than what we can be and say, "ENOUGH."
Corny as it is, we are the ones we've been waiting for. My mother told me stories about when she was pregnant with me and sat in the parking lot of my dad's paint store and learned that John Kennedy was dead. About the despair and the triumph of the '60s, when people faced dogs and water hoses to do what was right.
You want to be part of history and this is your chance. You don't want to say that you voted, although that in itself if great. You want to say you walked the streets and knocked on doors and called strangers. You want to be part of this. You want something to tell your kids and grandkids, or even people you meet you meet at the bus stop. "I was there. I helped make it happen. I stood up and said 'Enough.'"
I don't want to hear your excuses. I have so many excuses. My son's name is Efrain, he is of Salvadoran descent and he has only been a part of our family for five years, but I love him as if he were flesh of my flesh. This time next year he will likely be fighting in Afghanistan. My youngest is Nicky and he loves "The Upside Down Show." Goodness willing, in 20 years he'll be in college. Madelyn Dunham gave everything she could so a very brave man could stand up for us and say, "ENOUGH." For her, for me, for you, get out there in these last few days and DO IT. I have pledged that I will spend two hours of every day until election day to GOTV. I challenge all of you to do the same. My red state of Lousiana is unlikely to turn blue, but I swear by all that is sacred I will wring out every vote that I can in the time I have left.
Godspeed and Science bless all of you. YES WE CAN.