I grew up in South Carolina—a place where being a Republican is typically taken for granted. During the 2004 elections, I dared to drive around my hometown of Spartanburg with a Kerry/Edwards sticker on my bumper. This did not go without notice. Several members of my church lovingly teased me about my "liberal views," and one vehicle mechanic actually threatened to charge me extra if I would not remove the sticker before letting him work on my car.
So deciding to meet [Chris Lugo], [Tennessee's Green Party] Candidate for U.S. Senate, for coffee at Fido was a big step for me. As a newcomer to Nashville, I wanted to get an expert's thoughts on the upcoming November elections. I asked Chris to explain to me just what is at stake. Chris told me that all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives are up for election, as well as 33 of the 100 seats in the US Senate. Issues affected by the outcome of the Midterms include the Iraq War, the war on terrorism, foreign relations, and illegal immigration. On November 7th, Tennesseans will decide who will represent them on a national and state level, and they will decide where the state stands on important issues such as same-sex marriage.
After two café lattes, I left Fido with an understanding of just how important the November 7th Midterms are—both for Tennessee and the nation. I also left with a new agenda—to learn more about 3rd Party Politics and to become as active as I can in supporting the issues I care about between now and November. I would start by volunteering at the Green Party booth at the Tennessee State Fair.
A friend and I met Chris Lugo in the exhibitor's building at the fairgrounds. The Green Party was sharing a booth with the Nashville Peace Coalition and the Peaceroots Alliance. Directly across from us was the Motorola booth, and we were flanked by a knock-off sunglasses retailer and a man selling products for diabetics. After giving us a quick tour of our wares, Chris left and my friend and I sat for what we expected to be a slow day. Were we ever wrong!
We quickly found out that we were seated just a few booths away from the US Veterans table. Through the day, we saw a steady stream of vets, many of whom expressed their grief over the fact that another crop of young women and men are caught up in another war overseas. Even those who support the war couldn't help but lament the casualties suffered in Iraq. Several men lifted pants legs or rolled up shirt sleeves to show us physical evidence of the effects of combat. The scars tell their stories, perhaps more loudly than their voices.
As we sat behind a sign that read "Support the Troops…Bring them Home," we watched as people nodded at us in sad agreement, shook their heads in disapproval, and even apologized for not supporting our cause. Several people were surprised to learn that we were not Democrats or Republicans, but a different party altogether.
All afternoon, we talked to local folks about our political views and our vision for a multi-party system. We talked so much that the man from the diabetic products booth left his seat and joined us at our table, asking question after question and finally answering questions about the Green Party to passersby.
Of all the people I encountered during my stint at the fair, the one that has stuck in mind the most was a man who had driven a transportation truck during the Vietnam War. From the scars that climbed his legs, I inferred that his passion for nonviolence was deeply rooted in experience. This man visited our booth over and over again throughout the day. He talked fervently about his political views and his dedication to the Democratic Party. He even offered to pay us money in order to buy our votes away from the Greens.
It those two hours, it became glaringly clear that we have an important election coming up. The way voters chose will have huge implications for local and national politics. As the campaigns crank up for a final push, I urge you to do three things: register to vote, get involved with issues that matter to you, and finally, whether you are Red, Blue, or Green, show your colors at the polls on November 7th.