What an unbelievably historic election!!! Throughout the night I thought about my personal political journey, my belief system and values. You could say that my beliefs were literally formed around the kitchen table. I thought about what Barelas Babe posted a few weeks ago.

Political discussions were common with my family. I remember my mother, my aunt and uncles around the kitchen table at my Auntie Mary’s house drinking coffee and discussing neighbors and the world at large. Sometimes I would sit and listen to their opinions about politics. The discussions were never heated as they all were on the same side of the political fence - Democrat. What’s funny is that as a child I assumed that your political views were passed down or inherited like a name or male pattern baldness. I assumed that if you grew up in a Democratic or Republican household, you were marked for life. So it was with great disbelief when I learned that many of my cousins and aunts and uncles had “strayed” to the other side. What happened?!

As a child, I didn’t know what the difference between a Democrat and Republican was. My mother explained it very simply to me. She said imagine you have a pie and you cut it into several pieces. She said that if you are a Democrat you would take a slice of the pie and then share the rest of the pie with others. She said if you are a Republican you take a piece of the pie and share that piece with others, but keep the rest of the pie for yourself. Wow!

That very simple explanation led me to become part of my first political campaign. I remember in 1980 as a senior in high school, being completely shocked that some old actor by the name of Ronald Reagan won the presidency. So when I was a junior at UNM in 1984, I decided that there was no way this man could or should be re-elected. I called the Democratic headquarters and said I wanted to help. My cousin joined me and we were on our way to change the world. We canvassed the South Valley and got on the phones and called people. We went to rallies and even dressed up as missiles – part of no nukes events. I ditched class and worked the tables we had in the SUB that had information about Mondale and Ferraro and Judy Pratt – the woman who ran against Pete Domenici that year.

I remember a town hall meeting in the SUB Ballroom where many local Republican candidates came to rally their troops. Anyone was allowed to come in and ask the candidates questions. Representative Manuel Lujan Jr. was there and I asked him why he voted against the Superfund Bill. He said, “No I didn’t.” I remember being stunned that he lied. I remember the College Republicans laughing at me and yelling “Get out.” I turned back to Manuel Lujan and said, “Sir, it’s in the Congressional Record that you voted against the bill.” He laughed me off and made a remark that I didn’t hear. It must have been funny because everyone started laughing at me again. I felt humiliated and left.

As I continued to work that year for the Democratic Party, I saw the other side of politics – the less ideological side, the gritty side, the ugly side. I learned that politicians, of all political persuasions, stretch the truth. I learned that not all Republicans keep the large part of the pie for themselves and that not all Democrats share the pie. My days of working on political campaigns died that year. In the elections that followed, I voted, but quit volunteering. I listened to candidates and studied the issues, but wouldn’t canvass. I put up yard signs, but refused to make phone calls to get out the vote.

Then something happened that made me change my mind about volunteering. George W. Bush won. The political climate cycled back to the memories of my college days. I had to make a decision – what could I do as a citizen to make a difference? What could I do that would not involve having people yell or hang up on me on the phone? What could I do that wouldn’t have people slam their door in my face while I asked for a political contribution?

I decided to become a voter registrar. This allowed me to volunteer to the entire community, not just to a segment of the community. This allowed me the opportunity to give a voice to people who never thought they had a voice. This gave me the opportunity to make people become aware of their rights as a citizen voter.

I hope that some of those people that I registered to vote became informed on the issues. I hope that some of those people that I registered to vote felt they made the right choice for the candidate that spoke to their values. I hope that some of those people that I registered to vote will sit around their kitchen tables and simply talk about the world around them. And to all the little kids around that kitchen table, listen up. Your future political views may be formed while you’re not paying attention.

This post is dedicated to those volunteers who gave so much time, effort, love, and hard work to this historic campaign.

Views: 34

Comment by Jessie on November 5, 2008 at 9:59am
Great post, Adelita.
Comment by mombat on November 5, 2008 at 10:09am
I also have great memeories of sitting at the table and listening to the adults talk politics. I was shocked to go to friend's houses and find that not everyone did this. My children are now the 4th generation at the table.
I am so glad that you didn't give up.
Comment by cc on November 5, 2008 at 10:16am
Thanks for chronicling the progression of political involvement in your life, and putting Barelas Babe's link in too, which I read. This year's Democratic Presidential Candidate Obama gave many many more individuals the opportunity to expand their own stories of political involvement with his well-oiled, multi-faceted cutting-edge campaign!

Let's hear it for Adelita, BB, and everyone who stepped out to share in our Democratically-run government! Let's celebrate renewed feeling of empowerment in our country!
Comment by ABQSkippy on November 5, 2008 at 11:46am
I worked very hard for the Labor 2008 campaign. Labor 2008 is the combined effort of various Union's to get pro-worker candidates elected. I must have walked a hundred miles over the last several months canvassing fellow Union members.
We have much to be proud of. We helped to elect a President, a US senator and 3 Congressmen that will work to better the lives of working families. We also helped elect many local candidates that will look out for us in Santa Fe.
I have so much joy in my heart.
Comment by norman p on November 5, 2008 at 3:25pm
hate 2 burst yer bubble buddy. statisticly speaking, none of these clowns , left or right, get more than 10% of anything they say they will do, accomplished. the people run like lemmings off the cliff to have an outmoded group (the electoral college) have the final say. that was spiffy when we used kerosene lamps and the railroad was new, but since then the process has been a joke.
i think they should have a group of say 6 people, three from easch side, make the run, and let the real voters make a choice by the numbers. think of it: your vote actually would count. you could end up with a mixed ticket administration, and they might actually be able to do something that was in the interest of the people instead of the party.
everybody gotta have a dream i spose. congrats on your win. i just have no faith in this broken and antiquated system.
Comment by JR Ramirez on November 5, 2008 at 3:34pm
Like sista like brotha. About a month ago, on a weekend, some friends and I canvassed neighborhoods in our neighboring state of 'swing state' Nevada. Our goal was to make sure that these people get out to the polls and vote for Obama; we encountered some real characters, some for and against.

Last night during his speech he mentioned all the people who helped him win. He mentioned alot of people and then he mentioned "to all the people who went out on the streets and knocked on doors" I tapped my friend on the shoulder and we both smiled. However, I have mixed emotions about this historical election. I feel extremely elated for Obama but alas, the good fight here in California regarding Proposition 8 which would amend our state's constitution to overturn a ruling by the Supreme Court back in June which allowed gays and lesbians to marry has passed. The news came early this morning with a margin of 52% to 48%.

I feel very optimistic about the future of this once great nation with a new leader at the helm, but I'm sad and disappointed at the close minded bigots who voted yes on 8. Discrimination still very much exists...as does ignorance.

As I listened to Obama's speech, I couldn't help but to think as he was saying change has finally come and we can now say that equal rights are available for all, I still felt left out. The truth is, we as GLBT people still face discrimination, prejudice AND we still don't have equal rights. Even if Prop 8 had not passed, it would have meant little on the Federal level.

I have received numerous emails this morning from my wonderful straight friends asking how I'm doing. I can just feel the emotion in their words as they expressed their concern. I got real emotional when my friend Cynthia told me about how hurt her gay daughter was when she learned the news. Her daughter gathered 20 friends and held "NO on 8" signs at a busy intersection, while people would yell out mean and hurtful things.

I got real emotional reading about how my dear friend Shannon and her husband were utterly disappointed with the outcome and how they will still fight the good fight with me, no matter how long i takes.

I'm flying to middle America Nebraska tomorrow, Lincoln to be exact. My best friend Eric is marrying the woman of his dreams and he needs me stand right next to him. I don't know what to call this...irony, coincidence, twist of fate....dunno? All I know is that I live in a state where I stll cannot legally marry and be afforded the same equal rights as heterosexuals....and all because I'm gay.

I don't know if you folks followed this Proposition but it got nationwide recognition. It was the 2nd most costly campaign in the history of the United States, right behind the presidency. To say that it was a huge hot button topic would be an understatement. We are talking about equality here!!

Sorry...I didn't mean to go off on a tangent here. I only wanted to leave a comment for my big sista gorgeous one and then I got started and before you know it I began to bleed and this website provided the perfect outlet for me.

It's back to the drawing board and this fight will continue, in the mean time.... I will do my best to be a 2nd class citizen.
Comment by cc on November 5, 2008 at 3:34pm
Some of my early memories of politics include talking to a girl in first grade about supporting LBJ over Barry Goldwater, my mom and dad taking my sister and I down to meet the buses leaving full of people on their way to the Poor People's March on Washington in '68, my mom out in the yard late at night pulling weeds to get her anger out during the Republican convention of '68, stickers I had that were for Pat Paulson for Pres tho I was for McGovern, my mom being so frustrated with her Dem party in the 80's that they wouldn't take a stand on any important social issues that she wrote letters and made calls. I also remember political arguments between my parents and my uncle and aunt in the 60's ...

My parents' involvement is why I am, for sure. I poll-watched yesterday in Taylor Ranch and saw wonderful teams of poll workers in action, so knowledgeable and accommodating, helping folks find their precincts, or helping them fill out provisional ballots.
Comment by cc on November 5, 2008 at 3:39pm
JR, thanks for bringing this issue up - I just learned about the CA vote this morning - how ugly!
there is so much work to do.
Solidarity with GLBT community!
Comment by Johnny_Mango on November 5, 2008 at 3:39pm
Really nice post, Adelita. It brings so much to mind. My own community involvement started with the labor movement. I was on a U.A.W. picket line before I went to kindergarten. I did door-to-door canvassing by myself when I was five passing out "Dewey Bucks" for Harry S. Truman. Ours was a split household. My mother wouldn't vote for Truman because he cussed. My dad had a two-foot by three-foot picture of him hanging in the living room. What memories. Thanks.
Comment by bg on November 5, 2008 at 8:52pm
I join the people who have tempered our enthusiasm for today with the realization that we still have far to go to make sure that everyone has civil rights in our land. While I am thrilled with the outcome of the Presidential election and our new delegation to Congress from NM, Prop 8 will now rear its ugly head (like Putin, over Alaska) and M/F only marriage amendments were approved in several other states, including Arizona.

I hope our new President will find a way to push forward a new civil rights agenda. It would be just.


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