The latest wave of unease started Monday. I felt the end was near. Or, more appropriately, I felt the end was not near. I started to feel that the the Bush/Cheney era in the White House was not on it's last legs. And I was scared.
Then, late in the day Monday, I made up my mind to travel to PA and offer whatever I could to the Kerry election effort. My state (VA) is a loss anyway, always falling to the Republicans. There wasn't really any reason to volunteer here. PA was the closest battleground, and had a lot of electoral votes at stake. I had a connection inside the Kerry camp in the Philadelphia suburbs, so that was my destination.
Tuesday dawns. A timeline.
5:00am - Alarm goes off. That sucked.
5:15am - Out the door (I'd showered the night before as not to be entirely gross to my fellow volunteers).
5:30am - In line at my local polling location. 5th person in line.
6:00am - Doors open. I'm in. I'm the first vote cast at my location (the first 4 people in line were older/slower, so they were easier to shove out of the way when it was time to make my move. Only kiddng. They did take extra time signing in and figuring out the electronic voting machines.
6:04am - Back in my truck, headed north.
6:25am - Hit the DC beltway.
6:44am - Make it to 95N.
7:04am - Pass the big "Balimore" smokestack in Charm City.
7:57am - Ahh, Deleware.
8:18am - PA.
8:36am - Media, PA. I'm here.
9:30am - At this point, it gets pretty busy. [* see detail below]
7:43pm - Done. Head for home.
9:58pm - Home.
2:18am Wednesday - Bed.
*...Basically, I first went to the main Kerry HQ in Media PA. I was handed a map and was pointed in the general direction of the Media, PA Theater, where the volunteers were being coordinated. Maybe a mile from the HQ. I arrived at the staging area, got a quick orientation (with a bunch of other volunteers) got paired up with an older local guy and a couple of young Georgetown Law students also in PA to help, got our assignment packet, grabbed some road food (graciously provided by the Kerry organizers) and hit the road. Basically, we were the foot soldiers. Each team of volunteers was assigned a neighborhood, we were given voter registration records and told to knock on every registered democrat's door and ask if they'd had a chance to go vote yet. If yes, thank them and mark them as "voted" on the lists. If no, ask when they thought they might vote, and ask them if they needed a ride or anything else. Once we had covered our entire neighborhood (checking off all the houses we hit), we return to home base and trade data in for a new packet, then hit the streets again.
I managed to outlast three partners: Granville, Bok and Stephen (what is it with these PA names???), not counting the Georgetown Law kids, and make a total of 4 or 5 neighborhood runs throught the day. The last run was completed in total darkness at 7:00pm, using a flashlight to read our map and find house numbers.
After the final run, we went back to the Theater and found pizza waiting for us. Sweet. Food! That's exactly what I needed for the 2.5 hour trip home. Gobble down some grub and get back in the truck, headed southbound. I wish I could have hung out with the other volunteers in the Theater watching the results come in, but after an extremely long day, all I wanted was to get home and crash out.
For the first 30-45 minutes of the drive home, I listened to whatever NPR station I could pick up and tried to keep up with the incoming results. The initial numbers were sounding good, and that managed to get my hopes up. After I found myself trying to do electoral-vote math in my head while driving (and wandering all over the highway in the process) I decided I would let things settle as I drove home and worry about the returns later. I threw in a CD and set the cruise control.
I finally arrived home around 10 (after breaking all my election-night plans to go out with friends) and immediately switched on the TV. Uh oh. The results were pouring in fast and furious at this point, and a lot of states on their pretty map were colored an annoying shade of red. My heart sank, and continued to stay sunk for a long time.
There was one shining moment of sheer happyness that almost brought me to tears. When CNN predicted that PA, and it's 21 electoral votes would go to Kerry, I felt like I had just hit the lottery. I took it personally. He won the state that I went out and fought for. Man, that was a good feeling. I really feel like I played a hands-on part in trying to remove Bush from office. Of course, it's now clear that we had won the battle, yet lost the war. But I'm inspired. Inspired to fight against this right-wing psuedo-moral christian who's got 4 more years to impose his creepy values on me.
One last thing before I go. I would like to thank the two rednecks in the car next to me at the stop light on Sunday. They pulled up, and passenger-redneck sits up in the window of the car (Dukes of Hazard-stly) and starts yelling to a group of Kerry supporters on a streetcorner: "Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck John Kerry! If we give John Kerry the election, we lose our fucking country. Fuck John Kerry! Fuck you!". I thougth briefly about getting out and clubbing him with my Mag light. Then thought better of it (now I think I should have gone with my first instinct). That was the catalyst. I really wish our efforts could have saved this country from mongoloids like them, but I guess the idiots have to want to be saved.
On the plus side, all the bands I like have 4 more years of great material to work with.