Woah, what a hectic North Carolina primary season. To be honest with everyone, it still hasn’t set in entirely.
On March 15th, I was proud to go and vote in my first presidential primary, and cast a vote for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont for President, as well as Kevin Griffin for US Senate. Unfortunately, both of those candidates lost, and despite my support, it is unlikely that I will see either of these candidates on my November ballot. Despite supporting their opponents, I will still be working hard to support their Democratic opponents to get elected in November. That’s the simple story of March 15th. Now the more complicated story.
On the night of March 12th, I hear at about 10 PM that Bill Clinton is coming to Wake Forest. As President of the College Democrats, I’m excited to hear the news. Despite being a fervent supporter of Bernie Sanders, I know that a lot of my members will be thrilled to know that President Clinton is coming to campus, and will yearn for the opportunity to hear him. I was a bit concerned about the size of the venue, but thought it could be worked with. Immediately, late on a Saturday night, I began reaching out to my Democratic Party contacts trying to see if I could get connected with someone in the Clinton campaign. After scrambling around, I finally came across a contact. Waking up at 8 AM the morning of the event, still at home, I dropped him a quick message, hoping to get some of my members access to the former President, but even after a quick reply, I received radio silence the remainder of the day… The Clinton event was phenomenal though.
I believe, no matter who you supported, it was a worth while experience to hear a former president speak. And it was a definite bonus that the people who were attracted to the Clinton rally were a lot more similar to me than the people who I had interacted with at the Cruz and Trump rallies. I was impressed with the messaging from President Clinton. He spent the majority of his speech talking about how Hillary had spent her career as a change maker. This message really resonated me, since even though I tend to be really idealistic at the end of the day, I have always surrounded myself with pragmatists, who tend to be able to accomplish my goals. This event made me reconsider my support for Senator Sanders, but after I let the excitement of meeting President Clinton wear off, I realized that I didn’t feel the same excitement with President Clinton as I had at all the Bernie rallies I had attended.
Going into election day, I was excited to be a poll watcher. I had spent a few previous times working the polls, but those were all partisan adventures. Today I was acting as a non-partisan poll watcher for Democracy NC, an organization, which was helping people with the new Voter Identification law and collecting exit survey data from voters. My partners and I were stationed at Brown-Douglass Recreation Center, which is in a heavily minority and lower socio-economic neighborhood in north Winston-Salem. We were stationed during the lunch “rush” and realized very quickly that people were in a hurry to get in and out of the polling location. Especially among those who were younger (and by younger, I mean working age), they quickly scampered past us, usually not being willing to stop and take the short survey. Even though the survey was short, every minute mattered for the voters, who likely had a short lunch break and rushed over to vote before having to clock back in. I appreciated their commitment to democracy. Luckily, most of the people we talked to had no issues with their voter IDs, but I did notice, as I was reviewing some of my friends’ experiences, the laws were not uniformly applied, even within the same precincts, which is unfortunate.
The day wound down with a wonderful conversation with Jeff Furman, chairman of the Board at Ben and Jerry’s. He and one of the litigators for the voter ID case, sat down with us and talked about how we can better implement out democratic principles, that our founding fathers laid out over 225 years ago. It was also clear that other people had different experiences as they went out to their polling places. Hearing other people’s experiences, just continued to expand my realization about how oppressive these voter ID laws are. I’m still hopeful that the courts will make (what I believe to be) the correct decision, and overturn these laws before the November general.
That’s a little look into the insights of all that’s going on in my head surrounding the primary. Filling just closed yesterday for the US House Seats in NC, after SCOTUS required the NCGA to redraw the districts. Looks like I won’t be a free agent for too much longer… Additionally, I’m entering the home stretch of my campaign to be the next president of the College Democrats of North Carolina (by the end of 2016, I think the word campaign is going to be profane to me haha!). #OneCDNC