Monday, December 31, 2007

Before Everything's Lost in the Rush

With a Mobile car mechanic inspecting my car on the way to New Hampshire, I settled down in one of four grease-stained folding chairs inside a stuffy and dark waiting room. A phone in my hand and the tantalizing closeness of a New Hampshire teeming with political excitement on my mind I made the call I had been meaning to make for a long time now.

I recently turned eighteen years old. Often a meaningful birthday for other reasons, I anticipated this milestone for the ability to donate money to a political campaign. Though unintentionally, I had donated money to Mike Huckabee and John McCain by purchasing t-shirts at various functions; now it was time for the real thing.

Opting to speak with someone directly instead of using a generic online or mail form, I 411'd the Washington D.C. headquarters for Senator Chris Dodd's presidential campaign. I held my debit card in my hand and read the number into the phone as quietly as I could. When prompted to chose a donation amount I doubled my intended contribution of $18 to $36.

I realized after the call ended that my contribution probably didn't have any effect on Dodd's campaign; surely his staff on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire have the materials they need for canvassing over the next week, for signs to hold on caucus night and primary day, and I can't see my $36 going towards a new hiring or office opening.

My decision to give to Senator Dodd's campaign was rooted in my belief that my vote, my voice, and my support of the Senator is just as important in his eyes as everyone else's. With Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards, the dreams they promise are as far from reality as the high-roller fundraisers they hold are from mainstream America. What the Dodd campaign represents is an America moving away from the stranglehold of foreign oil through bold but realistic initiatives, the return of the rule of law to the executive branch and the protection of the Constitution, and a new era of national service. Not only are Dodd's positions achievable, but they're initiatives already being undertaken by the Senator; from October to mid-December it was Dodd who singlehandedly led the fight against retroactive immunity for the telecom industry on the FISA bill.

After crossing the Massachusetts border into New Hampshire on Saturday, I decided to visit Senator Dodd's Manchester field office to pick up pamphlets on his efforts to introduce new legislation on the Iraq war in Congress this summer. I was greeted by a Dodd volunteer and mentioned to her my recent donation to the campaign, noting my skepticism that offering support so late in the game would be of any use. In the same personal tone that Senator Dodd extended the invitation to join his campaign as a volunteer this June, I was touched by the sincere gratitude my donation was welcomed with at the Manchester office and by the promise that my $36 would in fact be put right into distributing more yard signs throughout New Hampshire.

Surrounded by negative ads, newspaper attacks, and broken promises from our frontrunners, the act of voting and acting on conscious is more fulfilling than betting on the odds of victory and angling for an election win.

On caucus night in Iowa I'll make sure to check in on the festivities for Romney, Huckabee, Clinton and Obama, but at the end of the day I'll stand beside Chris Dodd.

It's Iowa time...let's go.

No comments: