Contributed by Cormac Doebbeling
November 8th will forever be a hard day for me. I’ll always remember the nauseous feeling I had in the pit of my stomach when I woke up at 4 a.m. to drive to my staging location in Mesa. I’ll always remember my sense of desperation, walking door to door in the last hours before the polls closed, in a vain attempt to get more voters to cast their ballots. I will always remember what it was like to be watching the polls and seeing the results from my home state of Indiana come in as they rejected Evan Bayh and voted for an extension of the Pence governorship. But most of all, I will be haunted by the sense of hopelessness I felt as I slowly realized that all the hours, sweat, and sleep I sacrificed for the Democratic Party had gone towards nothing. Rather then feeling angry at my fellow Americans, I felt futile and defeated, that I had let my country down.
2016 was immensely challenging for me. Not only was I in a brand new state, one that had 80 degree weather in November, but I had lost one of the most important people in my life. My grandmother, Jane Carney, who brought me to my first Obama rally when I was a mere fourth grader had passed away in the winter. This feisty and funny woman had made phone calls for the then Senator, then black-haired Barack Obama from her little house in Coggon, IA. Back when Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were front-runners for the nomination, my grandma would knock on doors, host get-togethers, and work tirelessly to deliver Barack his first win as a presidential candidate. This didn’t change when he won the nomination and even when her health had declined during the 2012 Presidential Cycle, she still made phone calls for the president she had grown to love. By the time 2016 rolled around, she had been put on hospice and couldn’t be the one-woman wrecking ball her neighbors had come to love. When she passed, not only did the Democratic Party lose one of its most enthusiastic volunteers, but my family had lost our inspiration, our grandma Jane.
While the 2016 results were pouring in, with the polls in Florida and Virginia terrifying my co-workers, I noticed that Iowa was temporarily trending for Clinton. I prayed that it was my grandma trying to move mountains from beyond the grave, but alas, even Iowa’s six electoral votes contributed to Trump’s victory. She would have been ashamed to see that man elected to the office occupied by President Obama, and truth be told, I felt as if my party and I had let my grandma down.
But since that hard night, I’ve gained a new perspective. I have had the honor of meeting so many great organizers, so many hard-working individuals who, like my grandma, have put everything they have to offer into making this country a better place. Whether it was ASU’s Young Democrats, Undocumented Students for Education Equity, or the Democrats in Legislative District 18, I am floored by the diligence and integrity shown by these Arizonans. Despite the terrible experiences they all had on November 8th of 2016… None of them gave up, none of them succumbed to a sense of hopelessness.
I don’t know if my grandma would be proud of the way I’ve responded to the election of Donald Trump. Believe me, I would give anything to give her a phone call to just talk about politics as we had done so many times in the past. Yet, I do that on November 8th of 2017, I am filled with hope.
(Cormac Doebbeling is a Democratic Party Precinct Committeeman in Legislative District 18, Arizona)