When the going gets tough…

Notes about the “long game” from an active PCP and slate-dropping canvasser

by Philip Quarterman

These are tough times, and worse could be coming if the pundits are right about the upcoming election. I am bracing myself.  Meantime, I comfort myself with Randy Newman’s words, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

And dropping slate is one way I build toughness. Knocking on doors not knowing what the reception will be … beating the streets in the fall rains …. engaging, in a word. But it really helps when the voters I meet are so positive. That keeps me going, and there has been plenty of that. 

I just pulled off two 200-home lit drops (both solo using MiniVan), and I am in the middle of another (with some help). Eastmoreland is a pretty neighborhood, and I was heartened that there are so many registered Dems in such an affluent area. The SW Hills are a bit different …. still a lot of Dems, but if your turf includes Non-Affiliateds and Independents, it’s less friendly. 

Defend Democracy sign Vote

The SW Hills are grueling, with all the climbing, winding around, long driveways, steps up to the front doors (how do these old people still live in these places?), and dead ends. Takes some figuring out. 

But the compensations are what keep me going: first, I have major good karma (what I call “bitching rights” if things go south). Second, the scenery (at least in SW) is lovely. Third, I love to see other neighborhoods I would not normally see. True of NOPO, where I have canvassed, as well as Eastmoreland. I find it very interesting to see how other people live. It’s good to engage with neighbors and hear what they have to say. Last, I get my soon to be 75-year-old ass in shape with all that walking and climbing. Better than going to a gym.

And if my candidates win, big payoff. I am hopeful for Jamie, Tina and the other Dems, but win or lose, I am up for this every election. 

Forgive me if I end with a bit of a sermon, a lot of stuff to get off my chest. This is going to be a long game … the right wing has been playing — and I would argue, winning — their own long game since at least 1973 and Roe vs. Wade, the rise of the “religious right”, the beatdown of the ERA, Gingrich’s “Contract on America,” the Tea Party, the demonization of Obama, etc. Trump’s election and the makeup of the Supreme Court are their two big wins. Now we face pervasive delusional thinking and fantasy (I prefer to call it that rather than “lies”, which somehow diminishes it) and paranoid armed thugs. 

Progressive Americans now need to start their long game, and be smart and relentless. They have to win back the “working class — all of it, regardless of ethnicity. That’s our natural constituency.

First, we have to shore up our democracy … that’s urgent. I think it’s going to take at least 50 years to make America the best it can be … the “more perfect union.” I doubt I will live to see it fully accomplished. That’s why the younger voters are so important. We Boomers have let them down. We were so optimistic in the 60s and 70s, but actually it was the backlash to all that change that began the resurgence of the right wing. It happened on our watch. 

Phil Quarterman has been a Neighborhood Leader and PCP in House District 38 for the past six years.