Monday, September 27, 2004

Up and running again

Power to the people! Jeanne has passed, and after 40 hours without power, we are now on our way to returning to normal—-at least what will have to pass for normal in this storm-ravaged state. We were lucky: apart from a few hours of mopping and towel ringing early Sunday morning to keep the water seeping in through the western-facing front door, kitchen windows, and my bedroom windows from becoming a flood, we suffered no other damage to the apartment. The complex as a whole experience the same type of impact it had from Frances—-a few more roof tiles missing, more roof flashing ripped up. Overall, compared to the damage other places, we got off easy. Most of all, it is a relief to know that we will not be one of the unfortunate places without power for many days or even weeks—-some people had just had their power restored after Frances (that’s three weeks ago to the day) when Jeanne hit.

We don’t know right now whether the office has power, but we anticipate that it does, or will by tomorrow anyway. We are certainly planning on going in. The staff, most of which fled to Naples with one of the interns (Sarah from New Jersey) whose grandparents live there, should be returning today. Unfortunately, time is of the essence for us—we cannot afford any more delays or interruptions!

As those of you who have been reading my comments regularly know, I haven’t had to many positive things to say about the organization of this local effort. The more I think about my experience here, the more I wish that I were involved at a level where I could speak up and try to institute or inspire some of the structure that I find lacking. I know I had the idea of inserting myself into an apparatus of someone else’s making, of being able to come down here and become a cog in a well-oiled machine. I think that this may have been a pipe dream as far as presidential campaigns are concerned, and I was probably a bit naïve to believe that I would find some organizational paradise just waiting for me to contribute my labor. I guess I believed that this campaign was simply too important to not be organized to the hilt. And that has been the sorest surprise: I still believe we must win this election, but I now see how that sentiment does not necessarily translate into a tactical machine to make it happen. Surely, the road to election day is paved with good intentions….

Speaking of good intentions, it is a constant source of chuckles in the office how many people seem so eager to help, until you try to get them to actually do something—especially when you tell them we need phone bankers. It is a real shame that voracious telemarketers have destroyed any patience people may have had for being solicited over the phone, since for better or worse, the phone is still a key piece in the political puzzle. And yet people are reluctant to be that voice on the phone, even when many of us feel that the things at stake in this election are matters of, or close to, life and death. (Indeed, during the memorial service portion of Yom Kippur services, I found myself thinking of all those soldier who have died in Iraq, and especially of those parents now left to mourn their children from this year on.) I often think maybe I should go try this phone banking thing once, especially now that we are in the persuasion stage of the campaign, just to see how rough it is—-to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. Am I willing to be hung up on to get John Kerry elected?

It occurs to me—-and perhaps this is a sad revelation of sorts-—that I am as interested in helping Kerry win as I am in feeling that I’m contributing. Of course it will be a festive Nov. 2 if victory is ours—-but I wonder how I will value this experience if I am unable to correlate my effort, as part of this local effort, to the overall victory. I suppose the true test then of political involvement is to do this work anyway, without worrying about whether that feeling will come or not. It is certainly a rude awakening for someone like myself, who has lived most of her life being motivated by that sense of personal satisfaction in a job well done.

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