Last week I was honored to receive an award from the Democratic training organization, Emerge New Mexico, as the Democratic Woman Leader of the Year. To encourage grassroots campaigning, I gave this acceptance speech, which I am posting here, by request. It includes my Top Ten Moments at the Door.
August 26. 2011...Thank you so much Randi McGinn. It’s a very special honor tonight to be sharing the time with one of my role models, Celinda Lake. Emergistas, I am really touched by this award, coming as it is, from an organization designed to put more Democratic Pro-choice Women in office at every level. Campaigning for women is how I started It’s how I started back in the 1980s, working with the Women’s Political Caucus in the wake of the Equal Rights Amendment… campaigning first for Dr. Suzanne Brown, a pediatrician who literally recruited me to be her campaign manager for the School Board just minutes after I gave birth. I campaigned for Judy Pratt, the first woman to run for the US Senate in NM and was there when Geradine Ferraro, broke the glass ceiling for women when she was nominated for VP in 1984.
I look around this room and realize how far we have come. So many women in office, so many policy advances for women and children.... But we could not have gotten here without campaigns. And Emerge recognizes this. Campaigns are the foundation of our work, in one way or another. As I hope you know, campaigns are more than an exercise in list building and phone calling. They are not just something you have to get through. Campaigns give us the opportunity to create and celebrate community, to connect and reconnect.
Campaigns take on a life of their own. The personalities become larger than life; the decisions are agonizing, conflicts are magnified, the pace is grueling and your heart is beating. There are real things at stake. Beyond the issues and beyond the results.
I don’t know about you, but I can date the period of my life by the political campaign I was working on and the people I encountered.
Campaigns are where we met our husbands, our best friends, where we decided what to do with our lives, whether to go to school or move to another town. They're where we formed a support system-- a network-- long before the word became trendy.
And there is nothing like a New Mexico campaign. In this day of twitter, electronic newsletters, blogs and u-tube, we still go door to door. Even in rural areas. We practice politics up close and personal on a retail level… where we still try to make the sale one by one, where voters want to see and touch the candidate, not just see the video. And women are different-- they actually listen to people at the door, not just cover territory.
And when you do that, in New Mexico, you never know what will happen next. When you're campaigning at the street level, you open you self to anything, to danger, to incoherent conversations, to argument, to miracles.
Just to give you a feeling of what can happen, I'd like to leave you will some moments from my own door to door campaign in Albuquerque's North Valley, where I’ve been knocking on doors for 16 years
Top Ten Moments at the Door-- Letterman Style
10. When you arrive at the door ready to give your pitch at the same time as a life insurance salesman.
9. When a young couple greets you at the door, you ask for Alfred Martinez and Lydia Brown, and the woman says.... " Who's Lydia Brown, and the man says, oh, I forgot to tell you... that's my former wife."
8. When you notice that there's a pig in the yard, and you don't quite know how to proceed.
7. When you talk to a bare-chested tough guy with lots of tatoos out working on his car, and can't help but be distracted by the huge red lipstick mark on his cheek.
6. When you are circulating nominating petitions to get on the ballot and, as you hand the petition to the person at the door, you accidently drool on it.
5. When, after a prolonged discussion about No Child Left Behind, you suddenly realize that you have been talking to someone who has no pants on.
4. When you encounter a family that speaks only Spanish, and smelling a wonderful cake baking in the oven, and wanting to be really simpatico, you ask about the “Caca Chocolate..Muy Bueno Aqui”… and when, an English speaking relative gently explains the mistake, you say, “Oh, soy muy embarazada,” which means of course, I’m so pregnant.
3. When a dripping young man, clad only in a towel, opens the door, kindly reaches for your brochure, and drops the towel by mistake.
2. When you kock at the wrong time, during a family argument and one party makes an obscene gesture at the other and asks, “don’t you think he’s a jerk?”
1. When you knock on the door of a Jehovah's Witness and come out with more literature than you drop off.
Thanks Again, and see you on the Campaign Trail.