I am sharing a letter I received from Tom McClure, who along with Jake Rothenburg, headed up the Democratic Presidential Campaign for Hillary Clinton in Traverse City and surrounding counties in the Fall of 2016. He now works for a Bloomberg Group, Everytown for Gun Safety centered in New York City. This is his recounting of his experience of going down to Virginia to knock on doors to help get out the vote in the recent election there for governor, and why doing this important work matters and makes a difference as we plan going forward into 2018:
This is your friendly (former) neighborhood organizer reaching out to say hello, one year later.
On November 8th, 2016 I woke up feeling excited, hopeful, and anxious for a future we worked so hard to bring to life. Over the course of that very long day, I saw or spoke to almost all of you. I remember so distinctly another emotion -- stronger than the rest -- building as the day went on: pride, for what we'd built. November 9th, of course, was a tough day-- so much of what I felt the morning before seemed so, so far away.
In the year since the election, I have moved to New York City to work for Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country. As we all know, these past few weeks have seen two of the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history, so going into election day, I was back to feeling pretty bleak. Everytown has invested heavily in the races this cycle, so I flew to Virginia to knock doors with some of my colleagues to see it through.
One woman opened the door and when I asked her if she had voted she said, "Oh my god! I'd completely forgotten! Thank god for you!" It was every organizer's dream. Another was about to leave to vote, but at the wrong polling location (oh no!). A third person in a living facility told me she wasn't planning to vote and closed her door. I was walking down the street when I heard her door re-open - she'd put on her coat, grabbed her purse, and was hurrying down the street to ask me if I could drive her to her polling location, because she changed her mind and had no way to get there. I drove her and waited on a bench outside while she voted. I don't have to tell you how good this work can feel -- or how much it matters.
And it works. Last night, Democrats swept all three statewide races in Virginia. We reclaimed a governorship in New Jersey, and we changed the calculus in statehouses, city councils & commissions, and in elected offices all across the country. Our country has been on quite a journey in the past 12 months, and finally -- finally! -- it is feeling strong again.
In 2016, our campaign fought hard for democratic values in Michigan. It fought hard for those same values in Nevada, in New York, in Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, and Indiana, and Ohio and Florida and Virginia, New Jersey, Georgia, and every state across this country. Yesterday, all of our campaign brothers and sisters put on their raincoats, crammed a power bar into their pocket, grabbed a walk packet, and took to the doors, one more time.
And so, one year later, I'm back to where I started: feeling proud. Proud of all the hours we put in, proud of all the doors we knocked, all the people we annoyed over the phone, and all the heart we put into a campaign that we lost. Proud of the relationships I built with all of you, and proud of the experiences we shared. Proud of the community we expanded in Michigan, the communities I know expanded in every state of this country, and proud of all the bricks we laid in the path towards where we are today -- the path that led many states and candidates to victory last night. Winning matters, of course. Losing matters, too.
Today, on November 8th, 2017, I woke up feeling excited, hopeful, and anxious for the future. Here's to more doors knocked, more calls made, more victories, more losses, and many, many more friends along the way.
I have thought of each and every one of you often over these past twelve months. Please tell me how you're doing. I would love to hear from you.
P.S. Jake (Rothenburg) is also in New York, and he says Hi!
P.P.S. please forward to anyone whose email you think I do not have.
All my very best,
Tom J. McClure
c: (734) 255-8597