Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Vamos Ramos!

So you might not know this about me, gentle reader, but I work within the system when I can.

Yesterday, standing not-too-close to my local polling place, we collected signatures for Jessica Ramos. She needs 1,000 signatures to be on the ballot, but her team is hoping to collect 5,000 because every one will be contested in court. Whee!

I had tried knocking on doors a week ago, but as my kid sister says, "I don't open my door to a stranger unless they're carrying pizza" and I left the pizza at home. No luck.

A friend who had done this before kick-started us, but pretty soon ProtestTeen and I had a rhythm going. He is not burdened with my shyness or discernment, so he approached every warm body who looked like they were over the age of 16, asking if they were a registered Democrat in NY. He got rebuffed more often than I could have handled in his shoes, but he also got a lot more yesses than I would have been brave enough to get.

Then he worked out whether they lived in the 13th State Senate district or not.

If they were indeed lucky enough to live in the colorful part of the map, I stepped in and explained that their current state senator was a member of the IDC-- and got to explain what the IDC was doing in Albany, even if they didn't live in the district but were curious. (Education is crucial to a robust Democracy! Rah!)

A couple of people wanted to do their own research before they signed  their names-- we ran out of flyers before we ran out of enthusiasm-- but we collected 3 pages worth of signatures, and I'm really proud of the diverse and passionate folks who stopped to chat with us.

Yes, there was a guy who walked past saying "Trump is my president!" but he didn't engage further than that and neither did we.

There was also a woman who signed, saying she was no longer voting for men. "You had your turn," she said, nodding towards her (male) partner by her side.

I did not witness this myself, but my signature collecting partner said that Peralta, the incumbent Ramos is competing against, had hired signature collectors from Baruch College. Apparently that's completely legal. I can see why having a bigger war chest is important-- not just for the advertising, but for paying feet on the ground/hands holding petitions.

We, of course, were unpaid volunteers.

I don't know how many of my signatures will be "good enough" to count towards Ramos's 1000. I'm still pretty new to this part of civic action, and I'm pretty sure at least one of my mistakes can't be fixed with a cross out and initial. But I did find  that after 2.5 hours of talking up democracy with my neighbors I wished I had my bag of Ricola handy.

Some parts of my exploration of demoracy in this peak capitalist era don't change.

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