Election Night Memories, 2008

Some thoughts on Election Night 2008

I’m taking a break from making calls (over 100 made tonight & counting!) to reflect on some of the memories I’ve collected while working for Barack’s Campaign for Change. I’m thinking about the many people I’ve met and the voices I’ve heard.

The first time I, went canvassing for Barack the somewhat disheartening day ended on a high note. After knocking on 10 pages worth of doors in an economically depressed area of Virginia Beach, and being met with hostility, suspicion, indifference, and many empty homes, my partner and I were greeted by an entire extended family who came outside to thank us for the work we were doing to change the world.

The man on our list was a young Black soldier who was visiting his parents’ home with his wife and two daughters. He came to the door in a Barack T-shirt and stepped outside to speak to us; his mother, father, uncle, wife and two daughters followed. As he updated his address (he had recently been transferred to Northern Virginia) and signed up to volunteer, his father and wife spoke about the campaign and the hope they felt.

His pre-teen daughter said she wanted to vote too. As three generations of this family stood around us, I noticed that we were all smiling ear to ear, just beaming at each other. “It’s a new day!”, his father said as we took turns shaking hands round the circle and said goodbye.

The first night I made calls to voters in my state, after 25 calls that yielded little but wrong numbers and one screaming McCain supporter, I happened on a 93 year old Black woman who had voted early, she said, “because of my age”. She wanted to talk and her quavering voice conveyed the emotion she felt. “I have waited so long for this, for this day! I have waited so long to see this happen, wouldn’t nothing keep me away.”

Tonight, as I made calls to voters in Virginia and Nevada, a 73 year old White woman stopped me mid-sentence to say “Don’t you worry, I voted this morning and I voted for Obama!”.

As I canvassed near my neighborhood on Sunday, a young White man with sandy-colored hair in cornrows, a naked torso covered in what looked like home-made tattoos, and a big smile asked for an Obama lawn sign and poster. As he meticulously taped the poster to his mailbox he explained that he couldn’t vote, but he wanted to help get the word out. “Barack’s gonna change everything up! He’s gonna change this world. ” (Apparently, as an ex-convict, he had lost his right to vote.)

Down the street from that enthusiastic young man, my canvassing partner and I met an 85 year old Black woman and her 35 year old son, both of whom were voting for the first time. “I’ve lived a long time…” the woman said as she opened her hands for a lawn sign. “Never thought I’d see this day…” Her son asked for some stickers.

As I canvassed or made calls, I was struck by the simmering excitement and cautiously hopeful enthusiasm of Barack Obama’s supporters. I understood, because I felt those emotions myself. This is the first time I have felt truly connected to the political process and the first time I have become actively involved beyond voting and giving a small donation.

I’m a single mother of a young son and a teacher; my time and my budget are tight. Yet, somehow I managed to scrape up extra time and extra money for Barack Obama’s campaign. I have waited so long for this and together we all will change everything up. For the first time I unabashedly believe–we can change this world.

Yes we can,

Maura Alia Badji

Virginia Beach, Virginia

November 4, 2008

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