Even After Impeachment, an Election Awaits

Becky O'Malley
Friday September 27, 2019 - 04:06:00 PM

So, yesterday morning I’d engaged a couple of strong young men to move some furniture at my house, and then the dam broke on The Whistle-Blower Affair. The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, testified before the house intelligence committee in the wee small hours of Thursday morning, so I’d just listened to the drama on NPR from bed, but by the time my helpers arrived the MSNBC talking heads were in full voice on my computer screen. I just let the show run in background as we got on with our job.

These guys are young twenty-something buddies who played together on the Berkeley High football team. They’ve managed to take a few courses at community colleges and played a little ball there, but these days they’re just working hard to make ends meet.

One of them has 12-hour night shifts for a non-union assembly job at Tesla in Fremont: 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. 3 or 4 nights a week, subject to demand, and his hours have been cut back lately as Tesla slumps. The other one temps doing maintenance for rentals in San Francisco—no guaranteed number of hours and no benefits. Both are glad to get more work to supplement their day jobs, which just don’t pay enough to handle the Bay Area’s soaring cost of living.

As we worked, we sometimes directed our eyes toward the computer on my desk. Since I’m well past my heavy lifting days, I scored more screen time than they did, so from time to time they asked me what was happening.

I started to tell one of them about how Maguire was being quizzed about turning the complaint over to the White House, and he nodded knowingly.

“Executive privilege!” he said. Exactly. Right on the mark. Some teacher at Berkeley High seems to have taught these kids something.

We got into a discussion about how all this was likely to end, and he told me he was looking forward to voting this time.

“I missed it before,” he said regretfully. But this time he’s right on top of all the issues, and he plans to bring some friends with him to the polls. 

Unfortunately, I thought, in the next general election a few more votes in the East Bay for the Democrats won’t make much difference, since they’re way ahead here already. 

But then I began fantasizing about how great it would be if young people like these two could be transported to a place where they would make a difference in time for the 2020 election. 

In 2016, Hillary Clinton lost the mid-country swing states because their demographic cohort, young African-Americans, just didn’t show up at the polls in the expected numbers. Peers might do a better job of recruiting these potential voters for 2020. 

In the last national election, I went back to Ohio to work with a friend who used to live in Berkeley. Help from an elderly White lady is fine, but the GOTV effort, and even more the registration drive, would have benefitted a lot from an infusion of youthful Berkeley talent. I’m sure that Washtenaw County, Michigan, where I did campaign work in the ‘60s, could have made good use of their help in 2016. Local people would certainly offer guest rooms for out-of-town workers if some showed up in 2020. 

And this year, even in California, which will be a sure win for whatever Democrat ends up at the top of the ticket, there are some congressional seats in swing districts that would appreciate their work. 

Quite a few worthy organizations like Indivisible are now energetically recruiting volunteers for the lead-up to 2020, but by definition they need to rely on workers from the comfortable middle class who can afford to work for free. How about making it possible for those who can’t afford to take time off from paychecks to participate? Fundraising around here specifically to support those who need to be paid to do election work would be a good idea. 

But it’s not easy to look toward the 2020 election while we’re mesmerized by the vision of impeachment which has just appeared on the horizon. My gut says YES! but my head says HMMM? to that seductive apparition. 

As of just this minute, crystal-ball gazers say that impeachment by the House will be followed by acquittal in the Senate, so we’d better keep our eyes on the prize, which is taking the government back from the crazies.  

The California March primary is a good place for a warm-up for the national election. If you’re one of those who’s chosen a must-have candidate, you could raise money to support young people like my movers as they learn to do voter registration and get out the vote for your favorite . Even if you, like me, are someone who prefers one primary candidate (in my case, Elizabeth Warren) but will gladly vote for an Old Yella Dawg running against Donald Trump in the general election, recruiting workers in March to get ready for November would also be worthwhile. 

And, of course, if Trump were to be successfully impeached AND convicted by the Senate it would be a whole new ball game. If Pence is the Republican candidate, for example, recruiting and supporting young folks like these for election work would be even more important. It’s an investment in the future that’s well worth making.