A call for political activism

Cliff Switzer is a former Chicoan now living in Sioux City, Iowa.
I came home recently on a Monday night in the worse snowstorm in a decade. Almost a foot of snow fell, and the landscape was a freezing desert of white frosty ice. In the mailbox, after trudging up to the house, my News & Review waited for my return from work. It comes every Monday, whatever the weather.

As I write this, the Iowa caucuses are a week old, New Hampshire is voting. Your editorial ["Setting the stage,” Jan. 22] captured the excitement of the upset here and of the horse race that will follow.

I had never been to an Iowa caucus (I am not proud to admit). Prior to stumping for Gary Hart in Santa Rosa, my only political experience came with the Campaign for Economic Democracy. I stumped for Tom Hayden as a student at Chico State, getting out the vote and promoting our candidate.

I remember parking the campaign truck, the one with the Tom Hayden billboard on the back, in front of the Enterprise-Record building downtown. It was high adventure.

Tom Hayden lost that year (it was 1978, I believe), but I learned a valuable lesson. At Bob Mulholland’s house, watching the returns, I was crestfallen when we lost. It didn’t deter Bob, though. He kept watching, even as many of us got up to leave. He wanted to see if we’d won Butte County.

Last week, at Washington Elementary School, in a crowded lunchroom several blocks from my home, I watched as 45 of the 118 people voting in the precinct moved to the center of the room. They stood by Bob Kerry. The rest of us, much as the results showed, stood for the three other winners.

Of the 10 delegates who would represent our precinct at the county convention, then state, then national, Kerry won four, Edwards three, Dean two and Gephardt one. One person stood for Dennis Kucinich. In our caucus, he ultimately went to another group.

I was surprised to learn I could represent our precinct at the county level. I could also hold office in my county’s Democratic Party organization, or even in the state. There had been vacancies for months that no one had filled.

Involvement doesn’t stop when the race is over. Tom Hayden ultimately went to Sacramento and was a fine state senator.

Now, as in 1978, Republicans hate big government. What better way to get rid of government support than by bankrupting it?

We need to get out the vote. To win every precinct, every county and every state, no matter how difficult. No matter what the weather. No matter what the effort. Bush is a strong president, but only because of war. He has got to go.