I spent most of yesterday in the trenches of small town politics. My friend and I bundled our preschoolers in her car, and, loaded with a map and some signs, drove around our town sticking political yard signs in snow bank after snow bank.
Dodging cars, and puddles I might add as spring was in the air, I climbed frozen ice mountains in order to get the word out on a contentious school issue. Sticking that sign just so in a snow bank so that drivers would be sure to see it. Some people beeped while I am sure others, who did not agree with my viewpoint on the issue, had other choice words that were kept in the confines of their own car. Windows thankfully rolled up.
And then last night, it was phone calls. I was that person calling you during dinner to encourage you to get out and vote today and remember to vote on my side. Unfortunately, I had the list of numbers where most of the people on the other end of the phone were staunchly disagreeing with me.
I now know what it must be like to be a telemarketer. I was hung up on more times than I can count. I actually didn’t realize I was being hung up on though until maybe the 7th time. Naively, I thought my cordless phone was acting up. Sad, I know. I will be nicer to telemarketers from now on. I swear.
I did get to try to explain my side of the school issue to a few folks who would listen. I am not sure if I sold them on it. Today is the big day and we’ll find out tonight.
Having been a community newspaper reporter for many years, I used to view the town politics from an objective outsider, looking at it through a glass and taking in all sides to an issue. I took each viewpoint, gave them ample and equal space in an article, told the whole story and moved on. I was not affected by the outcomes because I didn’t live there nor did I have kids yet. If it wasn’t part of my job, I certainly wasn’t going to go and listen to citizens wrangle about issues for fun.
Now it’s a whole different story. I am entrenched. My husband is entrenched. Because we want what is best for our kids. Now and in the future.
My how things change. I suppose I could have sat back and waited to see how things unfolded, not say a word and trust that things would work out as they should. I tried this, but sitting on my hands was no good. I started writing letters, attending Board meetings and, gasp!, standing up publicly to give my spiel.
I am no public speaker and let me tell you folks, it’s scary! A little. At first. But then, the next thing you know, you are part of a political action committee trying to change things — or in our case keep things the way they are — hanging signs, distributing fliers and climbing snow banks to get the word out. And, after a long hard fight, waiting for the people to decide.
I have enjoyed this exercise, though not the climbing icy snow banks part and not the part where people can be nasty to each other.
I know one thing — political office is not in my future as I don’t have the stomach for it. (Don’t’ worry. No Sarah Palin wanna-be here.) But I will roll up my sleeves and help out and gladly spend some more time in the trenches for my kids.
It made me feel like I was teaching my kids a good lesson: Fight for what you believe in in a fair and balanced manner.