Tuesday evening, as we were finishing up our Remix the Election action in San Francisco, a woman approached me at the corner of 16th and Mission. She was pushing a stroller, and beside her were two energetic, waist-high kids. She asked me "Where am I supposed to vote?" and I asked the candidate canvasser next to me if he could help her find a polling place because I wasn't familiar with the area. Before we could answer, she said "How am I supposed to vote? I can't get time off work, and it's late — I gotta feed my kids. And I don't even know where to go." Her son pointed to the MacDonald's across the street and tried to get her attention. She said "I'm only gonna vote for one guy anyway. Obama." And before we could say more, she was gone.
This woman has a lot on her shoulders. A job. Kids to feed. She relies on politicians to do right by her, and when they don't, what can she do? I left that street corner thinking about why what we do at Rootstrikers is so important. I can take time off of work to vote. I can participate in direct actions. I strike at the root for me, and I keep women like her in mind when I do.
Corruption takes on new meaning when you're talking about it in the streets.
For the last seven days Rootstrikers across the country have been talking to voters about money in the election. They handed out thousands of fliers, but more important than that, they had real conversations. They didn't just talk, they listened.
Remixing the Election taught us how the corruption we face is real, and that real people understand it in a number of different ways. We often talk about corruption in terms of facts and figures from OpenSecrets and MapLight, or as clever tag lines from unPAC and United Republic visuals. We measure corruption in dollars, not lives.
But when I'm exhausted from days of canvassing, it's not the dollars that give me the energy to keep going. It's women like the one I met on the corner of 16th and Mission. And I bet the other Rootstrikers who hit the streets to Remix the Election feel the same way.
So to all of you who participated in our election campaign I offer my deepest, warmest thanks. You're helping us shift the dialogue, so we can talk about corruption in terms of the people it affects, and so we can reach more people with this critical message.
It will take millions of people to defeat billions of dollars, but it will take Rootstrikers like you to recruit those millions. And that's why, even though we're all exhausted after a lengthy, noisy election season, we know this is just the beginning.