Today I made my first foray into political activism. After a lifetime of hemming and hawing, I finally decided you can only complain and post on Facebook for so long. At some point I had to either do something or shut up. Today was that day.
State politics in Kansas are an incredibly ugly mess. The governor has a 72% disapproval rating. The legislature is in lockstep with the governor’s “No tax/no public services” crusade. In June our public schools were literally three days away from being closed by order of the Kansas Supreme Court, because legislators refused to fund schools at a constitutionally acceptible rate. As a former teacher with three kids who thrived in public schools, two of whom will soon be teachers themselves, I could no longer keep my mouth shut.
Our state primary takes place in just over a week. Traditionally, low voter turnout favors extremists like the jerks currently in office.
So today, I went to the offices of our local progressive activism organization, Mainstream Coalition, and in two hours made ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-TWO phone calls, reminding people to vote in the primaries and advising them which of the senators running in their area do NOT support our governor’s failed policies.
Here’s a rundown of this experience:
- More than half were either “phone disconnected,” business numbers, or hang-ups. I actually only got about 7 hang-ups, which I thought was pretty cool. I mean, I’d probably hang up on a phone call like that (unless the caller got to the part about Mainstream Coalition, which I’ve supported since its inception 25 years ago).
- About another 35% of my calls were voice mails. I figure there’s some chance the recipients will actually listen to the message. Funnily, I left a message on the phone of the father of our Oldest’s best friend from kindergarten on. (Sorry that sentence sounds like some kind of weird foreign language exercise.
- About 10% were actually discussions, one of which was a hoot. An older lady relished the opportunity to rail about the train wreck of the RNC last week, and lamented that her relatives are loonies who support the GOP.
- Though he wasn’t mentioned by name in the script, my calls were actually against a candidate who I know personally to be a reprehensible human being. I could go on and on about how truly awful this man and his wife both are…but why endanger my blood pressure?
- I was glad to be able to leave several voice mails before I actually got a live human being, so I could practice the script. I settled on giving a very pointed inflection to the sentence about the recommended candidate actually listening to her constituents than listening to Governor Brownback. HA!
- I took great joy in being in the same room with several other people who are on the same page with my political leanings – a rare treat in this red state.
It was an awesome afternoon. So good, in fact, that I just signed up to do it again this coming Friday, my day off.
It’s never too late to try something new. Especially when something you care about is on the line.