I remember the first time I saw the phrase “GOTV”. I was 21 or so and actively working for the South Carolina Democratic Party in their coordinated campaign. It was my job to deliver Orangeburg, Calhoun and Bamberg counties for Gov. Hodges and the ticket in the 2002 statewide election and a group of us had been called together to meet on aand to receive intense trainings in the machinations of campaign work. We covered polling. We covered canvassing. We covered organizing. We covered phone banking and the last item that was in our binders that had the largest amount of time devoted to it was labeled simply “GOTV”. I privately asked my friend who was handling another portion of SC what those initials stood for because I was 1) Afraid of being embarrassed publicly and 2) I wanted some knowledge of the subject matter before we discussed it and he looked at me like I was an idiot and said Get Out The Vote…I had to redeem myself so I started researching on our (dial-up) campaign computers…and I saw tons of Democratic led GOTV efforts across the country. Detroit had a massive one, Chicago and Cleveland were nice. L.A. shut downtown down for theirs and the inquisitor in me typed “GOP GOTV” in the search engine…I got nothing. I modified my search and still swung and missed- I tried again and even again and again and still was coming up empty. I swallowed my pride and interrupted Craig again at the risk of sounding really ignorant- “Hey man, why is it that there are only Democrat GOTV efforts and our opposition doesn’t do them?” He turned towards me, stopped what he was doing and told me that I always ask the right questions. “The reason that we have GOTV efforts and budgets and church vans and coupons is that we have to beg our people to vote- all it takes for them to vote is an election.”
15 years removed and many things have changed but that remains the same. You want Democrats to vote?
It better not rain.
Or be cold.
Cater to them.
Include them in your platform.
Call their name in your speech.
Go to their church.
Say nice things about their Pastor.
Show up at Annual Conference.
Give them a yard sign.
Be at PTSA meeting.
Give Johnny $5 for making honor roll.
Take an ad out in their cousin’s daughter’s nephew’s newspaper.
Like their status.
And the line can’t be over 6 minutes long…(because you know they gotta work).
You want a Republican to vote?
Schedule an election and have someone on the ballot with an “R” behind their name.
On Election Eve, in Philadelphia, 33,000 folks showed up to hear Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen perform. Would you like to know where most of their Republican friends and neighbors were? At home. Sleeping- because election days are marathons and not sprints. I wonder how many of the 33,000 were too tired to vote the next day, or whose feet hurt from standing out for hours cheering on the Boss or who figured they’d supported Hillary enough by going to her event that they didn’t have to bother with going to the ballot box? This game that we play every 2-4 years it isn’t checkers, it’s chess.
So, I’m glad Hillary lost. I voted for her, I supported her, I still think she was the better candidate but I’m glad she lost. I’m glad she lost because sometimes the only way to correct spoiled children is to take things away from them for a protracted amount of time. We haven’t been marginalized the way that Donald Trump is going to marginalize us in a long time. Please don’t be so quick to say we’ve never been marginalized like this- you’d offend George Wallace and Bull O’Connor. Somehow we got comfortable. We have 8 year old children who know nothing else than a man of color in a house that’s white. We have men who refer to men as their husband and women who call women their wives and we don’t flinch or even think twice. We don’t see Transgenders as threats, nor do we call them weirdos or any of a number of much more insulting terms…and we crossed our legs and thought that stuff was sweet. We thought that the sun would shine forever. We figured that because we had elected a black man to our nation's highest office, that the world had changed and we used phrases like “Post-Modern America” and “Gender Neutral and “Post-Racial Society” we used terms like that as if the devil had given up. We said that stuff and won awards with our writings as if Jim Crow had died.
So, we have 2-4 years that we are going to have to do without some stuff. If we get real mad and get real organized and are really “woke” it will only take 2 years, until the mid-term elections to register, stand, wait and vote for like minded individuals in all seats of the House of Representatives in Congress and a portion of the U.S. Senate as well. We are a little over 700 days away from starting the process of fixing the madness that we just got ourselves into.
We’ll get stopped and frisked for 2 years- don’t get mad, vote.
We’ll lose some undocumented friends back to their homelands- don’t get mad, vote.
Our Sisters and Mothers will lose some rights over their own bodies that they enjoy now- don’t get mad, vote.
Planned Parenthood will be defunded- don’t get mad, vote.
We won’t have any voice on the Supreme Court- don’t get mad, vote.
Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Guiliani may well be in the President's cabinet- don’t get mad, vote.
When we vote, we will be able to place the Legislative and Executive branches of government into progressive hands.
When we vote, we will be able to hand the reins of leadership over to Cory Booker or Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris or Tammy Duckworth or Martin O’Malley and because of debacle, we’ll be able to do it 4 years ahead of schedule.
So thanks for staying home ya’ll. Thanks for chillin and not being about that life on Election Day. ‘Preciate it. Now we’re about to catch pure-d-hell. Democrats are going to “Feel the Burn” after all huh? Do me one favor…remember how it feels to fail. Remember how it feels every press conference, news conference, State of the Union that our newly elected President holds…and purpose in your heart that he will be a one-term circus act aberration.
Meet me at the Heart of Abbeville, we’ll be handing out Dr. Scholl’s insoles, warm blankets and umbrellas for your comfort at the polls. The rest my friends is on you.
I love you (I know that didn't feel like it but I do).
I'd love to be your Pastor.
Bible Study via Conference Call every Thursday via 888-628-8983 12:30 and 7:00 PM
Meet me Sunday at 9:45 for Church School and 11:00 for Worship
Historic St. James A.M.E. Church
The Heart of Abbeville
203 Henry M. Turner St.
Abbeville, SC 29620
God's Best Be With You Always,
Rev. Sterling J. Dowling