Yes We Did!
By Hope Katz Gibbs
The Democratic Women of Clifton
As a journalist for 25 years who recently launched a PR firm, Inkandescent Public Relations, I’ve long been most comfortable working behind the scenes, making others look good. So the idea of knocking on doors, handing out campaign literature at the polls, or even making cold calls to change the minds of angry Republicans to vote for my candidate of choice simply wasn’t something I ever wanted to do.
But after eight years of living in the Fear Factor and suffering from Bushonomics, I simply had to do something.
Mind you, I was a Hillary supporter. I thought she had the experience needed for the job of President, and it sure would have been great finally to have a strong, brilliant woman making decisions for our future.
My husband, illustrator Michael Gibbs, and most of the smart men I know and admire, liked Obama from the start of the campaign. They saw him as the ideal leader of our time, a man who embodies the leadership qualities of Lincoln, JFK, – and Jesus.
So once Obama defeated my favorite lady, I was willing to jump on the Barack brigade. But I wanted to know more. Was he really up for the job? Would Middle America, not to mention my Jewish mother, actually be able to put aside their prejudices and vote for a black man for President?
I needed to find out for myself what power Obama held over people, so Michael and I took our two kids to a rally in Fredericksburg. After standing for six hours in the rain, Obama finally took the stage — and it was an awesome thing.
Thereafter, I put aside my concerns and personal insecurities and, with Michael leading the way, I helped work the phones (the Obama campaign’s ability to harness the Internet made that incredibly easy), proudly wore my Obama “Hope” pins on my coat and briefcase, and on Election Day awoke at 5 a.m. so I could be one of the first in line to vote.
Michael and I also worked the polls at Centreville High School – something I swore I’d never do, as 90% of my neighbors, it seems, are Republicans, and we get dissed enough for being the weird artists on the block. But with our fellow DWC members, we proudly handed out stickers and support for the Dems who came out to vote.
Again this year, our precinct went red. But Michael and I were never so proud to be Democrats as on that day in Clifton. Truth be told, my husband hasn’t gotten this involved in a political campaign since he worked on behalf of Gary Hart. His excitement about Obama truly inspired me. In tribute to the President-elect, he created this poster in his honor.
But it wasn’t until I read a quote from one of Obama’s staffers in the November 17 issue of Time magazine (page 58) that I fully realized why I was able to push past my own fears and get out the vote for Obama.
In the article, senior advisor Valerie Jarrett told of a moment after the February 21 debate in Austin when an elevator operator who had been shuttling the team up and down the hotel for three days turned to Obama to say goodbye.
Jarrett recalls: “As we got to the ground floor the operator said, ‘Senator Obama, I have something I want to give you,’ and handed him his military patch. He said, ‘I’ve carried this with me every day for 40 years, and I want you to carry it; it will keep you safe in your journey.’ Later we asked Barack what he had done with it. He pulled it out of his pocket and said, ‘This is why I do this. Because people have their hopes and dreams about what we can do together.’ “