Tuesday, August 5, 2014

6 Hours In A County Fair Booth Made Me Unstoppable

Not sure what it is but I've always loved the county fair. Or any fair for that matter. Roasted sweet corn. Hot sugary funnel cakes. The noise. The crowd. Animal smells.

Yeah. Love that.

This year, I woke up after my visit to the county fair feeling something different.


For the past two years, I've volunteered at the Democrats of McHenry County booth at the McHenry County Fair. And you may ask, "Why in the world do you feel 'unstoppable' after that?"

Well, it's simple.

Have you ever stood as a volunteer in a booth, at public event where you see people's disposition physically change as they spot you?

Have you ever had someone snatch their kid's hand away from a basket of candy you were holding out?

Have you ever seen someone almost break their own neck not to make eye contact with you?

Have you repeatedly been told "no"? Even before you stated anything?

Have you ever been called a baby killer to your face?

Have you ever had people argue with you unilaterally even when you were not arguing with them?

Well all that and more happened on my 5 hour shift in the Democrats booth at the county fair last week.  Now, to be fair (no pun intended),  our county is reasonably split - 45% of registered voters are Republican, 38% Democrat and the rest are Independent.  On paper, we should not be so outnumbered but the perception about our county is that it is overwhelmingly Republican.  And the behavior of most of the people I encountered last week would reflect that perception. You may be thinking - "what in world were you saying to those people?"

97 days until the election.

Know you have a choice in McHenry County.

Absolute power corrupts.

People who run unopposed do not work as hard.

That's it. I wasn't pushing anything or anyone. I was simply reminding people what a democracy looks like and yet I was met with some very vocal and non-vocal rejection.

And I love it!

Here's why:

I am in the arena.

I care about something.

I'm proud to stand by what I care about.

I'm stronger for looking people in the eye and owning what I believe.

Guys, I am not advocating that you go stand in a political booth. That is only for the sheer lions of this world, like myself. But what are you waiting for to stand up and get involved? Get out there and get in an ARENA, TODAY!

What do you care about most?

Education? Support a PTA/PTO. Go to school board meeting.

Economic growth? Get to a local municipal meeting. Question your officials.

Elderly care? Volunteer at a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Literacy? Join your local library "Friends" organization or run for library board.

Women's Issues? Call your local YWCA and get involved.

Whatever the cause, there is an arena waiting for its warriors. Every voice counts. All people matter. Stop buying into the belief that you cannot make a difference.

For every 5 rude and fearful people I encountered last week, there was one who silently walked by with the thumbs up. For every 5 people who stopped to tell me I was not welcomed or wanted in this county, there was one who stopped and thanked me for being there.

One man with courage is a majority - Thomas Jefferson

It's not rocket science. It's part of the human experience. And because of my time in that booth last week - I recognize my power as an individual contributor to this great nation.

When will you recognize yours?

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