Until now, I had never been very interested in getting involved in politics, for good reason: the majority of my twenty-eight years were spent in rural Alabama. Whatever I thought about environment, abortion, or political candidates in general really did not matter there because I was sure to be out voted a thousand to one.
I moved to Portland and was completely baffled by the number of protests and candle light vigils taking place all over the city. The only protest I had ever attended in Alabama was ten years ago, when the NAACP protested the KKK on the steps of the Madison County Courthouse and I had no idea what a vigil was for.
When I arrived here, Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis were being mourned, Ward Weaver was being arrested and thousands of people were marching up and down bridges in protest of President Bush. I felt like I was in a different country. I absolutely loved the fact that Portland was a city where residents were so open-minded and so involved intellectually with what was going on in the world.
Shortly after the protests, I went home for a visit. My friends kept me at arm’s length until they could be sure I had not turned into “one of those liberal left-coast hippies.” My mother feared for my safety among all of the “rioters.”
Don’t misunderstand me: Alabama will always be where my heart is, but here in Portland I am finally free to let out my (whisper) liberal side. This was the reason behind my decision to buy tickets to the mayoral debate between Francesconi and Potter at the Governor Hotel a couple of weeks ago. I was so excited to have two liberal, democrat-loving, Kerry-backing politicians to choose from. I finally felt I could make a choice that would matter (“matter” meaning I wouldn’t be the single Democratic vote out of a thousand God-fearin’ Republicans).
Now that you know the history of why I felt it such a necessity to go and be a part of this experience, you can truly understand my frustration when I called the City Club to confirm my tickets for 7:30 p.m. and the woman on the other end, in a tone of obvious amusement, snorted, “I’m sorry, you’ve already missed the debate. It was at 7:30 this morning.”
Now I ask you: Who in this world has ever heard of a 7:30 a.m. debate?
Nothing in this town even opens until ten! Unbelievable.
I suppose you would think that the moral of this whole dragged-out and frustrating story would be to read flyers about debates more carefully (especially those tiny a.m./p.m. parts in the lower right hand corner). Not so. The point of this story to get involved!
I know it is easy to get so wrapped up in what you are doing that you forget how lucky you are to live where you live. Forget the rest of the world; there are still parts of this country where, no matter which candidate you vote for, the winner will always be someone who is against everything you care about and it can be a very scary, lonely feeling. I won’t miss my next opportunity to find out who these candidates are, and neither should you.
The next worthwhile debate will be Monday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. at the Roseland Theater, 10 N.W. Sixth Ave, and admission is $3. The debates will involve Congressional candidates Goli Ameri and David Wu, mayoral candidates Jim Francesconi and Tom Potter and City Council candidates Sam Adams and Nick Fish.
Call 503-243-2122 for tickets.