Art by TONY FITZPATRICK
BY MATT GOLDFINE GRASSROOTS CORRESPONDENT That’s it. No more non-stop worrying. No more checking Politico and Huff Po last thing before I go to bed and first thing when I wake up. No more frantically checking FiveThirtyEight on my iPhone for signs of improvement in the polls every few hours. Nope, I’m trading worry for action: this Philly boy is heading off to grind it out in Ohio till end of the campaign.
Five and a half years ago I somehow stumbled into politics out of a desire to better the city. Lost my first race by over fifty percent, and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve worked on campaigns from Strawberry Mansion to the Main Line, spent a few years working in the PA House and this spring got the state’s first openly LGBT state legislator elected.
Along the way I’ve met a cast of characters who’s stories could fill up volumes. An ex-marine who, since the Rizzo days, has been running campaign operations out of the speakeasy he started so neighbors who wanted a drink didn’t have to cross into another neighborhood where the bars were and risk getting beaten up by a rival gang. A foulmouthed former schoolteacher and mother of a Hollywood star who burst into my office during a thunderstorm and, after handing me a contribution, made me lose an hour in the middle of a heated campaign watching her son’s latest stop-action animation. An uber-shady ward leader who bragged about the number of times the feds had gone through his records without finding anything to put him in jail. Two-bit wannabe hustlers who tried to shake me down for money to run ground operations.
But I’ve also met a millionaire who housed over 30 campaign volunteers on the couches and floors of their mansion. I’ve watched young mothers phone bank while holding their sleeping newborns, seen a septuagenarian come out to his first protest, and I’ve had grown men cry on my shoulder after successfully going to war with me bringing progress one door at a time.
For all the BS and empty rhetoric, the results of campaigns mean very real things for the future of many peoples’ lives. When used the right way, our political process can be the most positive and transformative force on this planet, granting rights, equality and opportunity to everyone regardless of what they look like, whom they love or anything else that can be enumerated.
After a billion dollar effort by our nation’s darker forces to win by any means necessary, President Obama is still in this race because of the hard work of thousands of Americans who refuse to give up and let our nation be bought. Pennsylvania’s looking like it’s in the win column and I’ve got some blood, sweat and tears left, so I’m heading to Cleveland to serve my president. I’ve certainly got some bones to pick with him that we can take up during the second term, but there’s no way we can let Mitt Romney buy the presidency.
I don’t know what they’ll put me to work doing or where, but on Sunday I’m throwing my stuff in my car, kissing my love goodbye, and heading west…for victory.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Matt Goldfine will be filing regular dispatches from Ohio up to election night
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