From L.A. to Ohio

I’m a California girl, born and raised, so it’s unlikely I would have ever gone to Ohio on my own.  I was really hungry the whole time we were there. Spaghetti, meatballs, pizza and donuts are not food to me. I like vegetables. I think I lost two pounds on the trip, not the usual campaign experience, from what I’ve been told. Ohio was my first political campaign — and I’m 60 years old. My last major political activism was getting arrested during the “Stop the Draft Week” when I was 16.

It was quite an experience to be in Ohio to help defeat Issue 2/SB5 and restore collective bargaining for 360,000 Ohio public employees. We were 90 union volunteers from Los Angeles who went to Columbus. We took vacations days and personal days. For the most part, we didn’t know each other, but we got to know each other really well over the course of four days going house to house. Adrian, Tasha, Marvin, and Morris became my travel companions and election team. We laughed a lot, getting lost on unfamiliar Ohio roads.

We probably talked to 1,000 people. They continued to ask us, “Why would you want to come here? You were in California!” They were surprised that people from California would care about issues in Ohio. I don’t know that they anticipated that their issue was that important to us. I think that they were relieved, like the feeling when you know you’re not alone.

On our first day of precinct walking, we were in a very impoverished area. Families were living inside what appeared to be portable housing, the size of shipping containers cut in half. These people didn’t have anything. We stopped to use the restroom at a local church. They were offering a free clinic that happened twice yearly. If I got it right, the doctors and dentists were from India providing the services free of charge. It seemed a bit turned around, that medical professionals would come to the U.S. to help our needy citizens.

The weather and the colors were gorgeous. There were golds and reds that were unbelievable. I don’t know that anybody who has lived their whole life in California could experience those kinds of colors. I hadn’t.

We were in the live audience of The Ed Show on MSNBC on Election Night. I stayed until I found out we won. After that, I decided to go in search of food. I hadn’t eaten.  On my way out, I had a chance to chat with John Nichols, the reddish-blonde political analyst who is a regular guest on The Ed Show. I told him I had gone to Madison in February and had watched his predictions during the recall elections with interest. I told him I also came out to Ohio because the issues in the Midwest are not Midwestern problems, they are American problems.   He replied, “What I like about Californians is that they get it.”

I went to the grocery store and bought dim sum. I was exhausted. I was ecstatic. I did what I had come to do, so I went back to the hotel and fell asleep.