Hopefully, it will not have escaped you that the Pennsylvania primary elections were May 20. It did not receive much attention at Drexel except in the week leading up to it, perhaps because Rep. Chaka Fattah was unopposed, but nevertheless it was an important election: on the ballot were three proposals to amend the City of Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter as well as the Democratic nominations for governor and lieutenant governor.
Though I took a keen interest in the election, I did not walk out of the Armory with the coveted red-and-blue sticker for one simple reason: I do not have the right to vote. Like many Americans — whether illegally present, the lucky few with a green card, or on a temporary visa as I am — I was born abroad and have yet been unable, not for lack of trying, to secure the blessings of liberty. As those who know me personally will attest, this does not diminish my patriotic spirit in the slightest. It is in this spirit that I did participate in the election, by volunteering for State Sen. Daylin Leach’s congressional campaign in the adjacent 13th District.
Since February, I donated 17 hours a week to Daylin — a half day during the week and all of the weekend. I was a foot soldier, fighting the good fight armed with only some pamphlets, a clipboard, and a telephone. Over the months I must have contacted thousands of voters — some fervent supporters, others staunch opponents, but most undecided voters interested in hearing my story. In February I slipped on ice and bled, in May I braved the midday sun and earned a sunburn. Though I did not cast a ballot on election day, I made sure my voice would be counted.
But I do not seek your praise. Praise all the activists — uncredited and unpaid — that truly drive our democracy, of whom I was but one. Those of you who followed the race will know that State Rep. Brendan Boyle came out on top with a healthy margin. How did he do it? He had a veritable army of volunteers working the streets of Northeast Philadelphia. I carry no resentment toward the man, but as with all campaigns, it was his volunteers that carried him to victory.
Keep in mind Nov. 4, the day of the general election. If there is any candidate or issue that you care deeply about, find an opportunity to donate your time before then. It cannot be understated how much of an impact you can and shall have on your community if you are willing to pay the price in sweat. Do not despair if you are barred from voting or donating money. Instead, be a role model for your peers. If you know anyone who feels excluded from the political process, lead by example and let them know they have unlimited potential to bring about change. Our republic is not led by people with stickers that read “I Voted,” but by those whose stickers proclaim the all-important message: “VOTE!”
Kim Post is a copy editor at The Triangle. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.