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As the working mother of three growing boys, I consider it a great day when our family has been fed, cleaned, educated, exercised, and loved. With kids at three schools, clients to please, an active volunteer schedule, and a husband who has all the same responsibilities, great days require keen organizational skills.
I have fleeting fantasies of becoming a more engaged, informed, responsible citizen once my everyday obligations have been metóbut of course those obligations are relentless. Then an event happened in California that spurred me to action. I watched in stunned disbelief as a petition to recall the governor was assembled, scrutinized, and approved. I was shocked when early polls showed that the majority of Californians favored recalling Gray Davis. How could this be? Couldnít my fellow voters see that this vote wasnít about whether or not we liked the governor but rather about the lack of justification for the recall campaign? Hadnít he just been elected by a majority of voters? That I was not among them was entirely beside the point. This was about protecting the democratic process!
How could one work-from-home public relations consultant make a difference in a statewide campaign? I wanted to do my part, but defeating an unjustified gubernatorial recall (read: saving democracy) is a big thing to have on your to-do list during back-to-school season. Enter MoveOn.
MoveOn sent me regular email updates keeping me informed and offering suggestions on ways I could defeat the recall at home in my spare time. I began my personal campaign against the recall by forwarding Move- On petitions and messages to a group of family, friends, and co-workers.
Closer to the election I became one of MoveOnís phone bank volunteers. Assuming responsibility for calling my first list of 20 voters was a challenge that made me feel I was part of history in the making. Enthused, I signed up to contact another set of names, then another. I got pretty good at pronouncing the tough names, and, before long, it didnít sound like I was reading my message. I had a running contest with myself to see how many people I could reach in 15 minutes. The boys overheard my spiel so often, they entertained us with their own humorous versions of my get-out-thevote script.
I may have served a few late dinners in those weeks leading up to the recall election, but I also set a good example for our kids about standing up for beliefs. Regardless of the electionís outcome, I knew I had done my part in the effort to defeat the recall.
As a volunteer with MoveOn, I made 380 calls to registered voters. I spoke to nice people, the vast majority of whom claimed not to support the recall. Perhaps that explains why I was so surprised when the election was called only moments after the polls closed.
The governor was out. The Terminator was in. Was October 7, 2003, a great day? Well, at least the kids were fed! Soon after I crawled out of my hole of political depression, I took comfort in knowing I had worked with hundreds of MoveOn volunteers toward a common goalóat home, in my spare time.
|Susan Truax is a public relations consultant to technology, consumer, and education clients. She has received the Dave Jones Award, given by the El Segundo Chamber of Commerce for outstanding volunteer service and dedication to education, and the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award from the El Segundo Unified School District.|