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A Liberal's Reaction To Today's Loss
Context: Wendy Davis, the Democratic Candidate for Texas Governor, lost to Greg Abbott, the Tea Party Republican Candidate, this 2014 election, by 20+ points. This is a volunteer's perspective of her loss.
The night after the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush, I was doubling over in laughter as I talked about the liberal students and faculty of Northern Arizona University, tears streaming down their faces and hugging each other. Earlier that day I had smirked when I passed the liberals who were crumpled in diminished heaps of defeat in the halls of the university. I had rubbed it in with my coworkers. Their tears were hilarious. Whimpy, whiny liberals.
I’m ashamed of that 2004 post-election Republican now -- how little he cared about the millions affected by the policies of the far right, by their bigotry and indifference, by their worship at the alter of corporate profit and wartime vengeful greed. I’m further ashamed of how little he cared about equal opportunity in education policies, of how little he thought women deserved, of his proud ignorance towards the struggles of immigrants. I’m ashamed, mostly, that he didn’t really care who was getting hurt as long as he was a proud member of the far right.
I have to live with that. I wish now I could go back and join their tears, even if the old me walked by with a jeer. I've changed, and I'm changing, and these changes have pursuaded me that ideology should fit the individual, not the other way around. They've made me care more about people than empty principles, and this care has made me a liberal who deeply cares about fitting ideology to the greatest good of the most marginalized in this state.
When you live in a state like Texas, these changes can sometimes feel lonely. So many proudly don’t care about politics that it can make you feel like a sore thumb sometimes. Especially when you see all the people affected by it.
We lost. I’m not sugarcoating that. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. And we lost by a very large margin.
Somehow, when I looked at the results today, after the initial sadness, and as the tears blurred my vision and bled onto my face, I was smiling and I didn’t know why.
But then I realized it…
Earlier today I had a discussion with someone who said that the canvassing, the phone calls, the voting, etc. didn’t matter. It didn’t change the result one iota. So he stayed home. And it was rather depressing that I was trying so hard and caring so much…and some people didn’t care. Some people stayed home, proudly. And some people voted to hurt the people I cared so much about. It was painful. It made me rather furious and prompted my saying some of the rudest things I could muster.
But after that…I saw a woman in her mid forties who cared enough to work on Wendy Davis’s campaign for four days straight, often alone. She didn’t have to. She was volunteering. She wasn’t getting paid a dime. She just cared.
I felt very privileged to join her. To be one of a handful of people who came to her and showed that yes, we care, too. And it was a beautiful moment. It was a labor of love. It was this profound sense of comaradierie and partnership. I had never seen her before, and I may never see her again. I don’t know her story, or where she works, or why she’s there. All I know is that she cares, and that’s enough to make me smile and feel a little less alone.
And then there’s the lady I helped canvass who was 60. She didn’t know how to operate her GPS. She had several pages worth of addresses to go to, and she struggled immensely with directions. She said that she was especially susceptible to illness due to several health problems, and so the slightest sniffle would give her full-blown pneumonia. And she was the only other person who showed up to canvass this morning, in the rain. When I left her to go to work, I felt bad, thinking that she’d never make much progress. But she finished, somehow. Five hours in the pouring rain, knowing she'd have to be in the hospital if she caught the slightest hint of a cold.
I’m tearing up right now thinking about how much that lady cared.
And there are many more like her around the state that I’ve met, people who tirelessly and tirefully worked hard because they cared.
An election is about winning. I’m not saying it’s not. But…
It’s striking to meet people who care that much. It shows you you’re far from alone, and it implants something in you that wants to assure others that they aren’t alone.
Some of those people are crying tonight. It’s a nightmare to think what the Peter of ten years ago would have done to their tears, what he would have rubbed in their faces on Facebook, what he would have told them to their faces and joked about with his friends.
But that’s not who I am tonight.
Tonight I cry, too.
I saw through the blur what caused the smile.
We all know that Texas is red. That’s no surprise.
But 1,832,254. That’s the number at the moment of people who cared enough to stand in line, to jump through the hurdles, to stop on the way back from work, and so on, right here in Texas.
And, y’know…that matters. Every single number matters.
Some think it’s silly, I know. Even some who agree with my position on politics.
But when you work hard on votes, when people slam doors in your face, when you feel like it’s you and a handful of people against the world, when you sacrifice and you feel like this is in no sense your state anymore…even one vote matters. Even knowing one other person is saying "me, too" matters.
1,832,254 who care, who can share a hug or help dry a tear, who look forward and are willing to contribute and make Greg Abbott’s agenda to work against the best interest of the marginalized in this state that much more difficult to complete.
And I’m one of them.
It’s a great group to be one of.
When the sun rises tomorrow, and as the celebrations happen tonight, as the proud insults come on your timeline, as you find your own tears, if you dare to share them, fueling mocking laughter…
If you are one of those who care enough to cry…
be encouraged in knowing you’re not alone.
Here’s a shoulder…:')