The Democratic process

When I was younger – middle school and high school age – I used to spend every major Election Day walking from house to house, asking Democrats to make sure they got out and voted. My friend’s father – a lobbyist for the Railroad Workers Union and a friend of the South Dakota Democratic Party – would get us out of school for the day, and we proceeded to make our feeble attempts at rousing up the vote.

I can’t imagine now what it must have been like to see two middle school kids coming to the door, underlining the importance of voting for the Democratic candidates. But I do know how important that act was for my personal viewpoints. It helped form a basis of understanding government, of appreciating the humane aspects of Democratic thought, and of truly respecting my right to vote.

That door-to-door tradition ended when I went to college. Instead, I began gluing myself to the couch to watch the election results roll in. Last night was no different, and as I watched, I couldn’t help but be proud.

I watched Stephanie Herseth’s celebration party and wished I could be there. A widespread victory by a majority of the causes and candidates I voted for contributed to a feeling of nostalgia. I wanted to be back in the thick of things – to be campaigning and walking door to door in the name of Democratic values.

During those days, we would invariably end up back at Democratic headquarters. From there, I watched Tom Daschle win a senate seat. I watched Tim Johnson win two House seats. I watched Bill Clinton beat George Bush and then, four years later, watched him defeat Bob Dole. I shook Daschle’s hand. I shook Johnson’s hand. I felt like part of the party.

Since then, I’ve watched a Republican revolution from my couch. I watched George W. Bush win twice, both closely contested and both nefariously won. I sat stunned in Marshall, MN, as Jesse Ventura rose above party politics and took Minnesota’s Governor spot. And then, I watched him make an ass of himself, leading to the backlash that has put Pawlenty in office.

Last night was different – a mixed bag of blessings and disappointments. I watched a woman’s right to her body upheld. At the same time, I was dismayed to see so many South Dakotan’s feeling the need to stick their nose into their neighbors’ business, denying same-sex couples the right to marry in our state. I saw a negative Dick Kelly (R) campaign go down in flames, but also watched a positive, enlightening Suzy Blake (D) campaign come up just a few hundred votes short.

There were more positives than negatives, regardless. I saw a good friend score a victory as a campaign supporter for Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota. And a nation filled with Democratic senators and representatives will make our nation’s policies a little more balanced — a little less exclusionary, and a little more common sense.

I gained a lot of faith in politics last night. For once, the good guys won. It got me fired up. It was invigorating. I still hate talking about politics, but I love supporting the causes. So in two years, when we’re fighting to keep a Democratic majority and searching for a new President, I might consider helping out a bit.

Who knows? If this keeps up, maybe you’ll see me walking door to door again, asking people to vote, searching for that magic was lost sometime in college, when I became disenfranchised with the entire political circus.

Until then, congratulations, Democrats. It’s about time.

This was lovingly handwritten on November 8th, 2006