By Kate Franch
This is what democracy also looks like: Tuesday, June 11, approximately 130 volunteer GCDP poll workers, ad-hoc election commissioners, logistics team members, Greenville County Elections Office staff, and poll clerks worked together – many over a 14+ hour day – to put on a primary election in the City of Greenville. We made it possible for city residents to exercise their sacrosanct right of the franchise and to express a voice in their representation.
No one here could remember the last time the GCDP had to undertake this responsibility, although putting on primaries used to be solely a local political party activity. Simply coordinating that many participants as well as the various steps involved was a major logistical enterprise that we successfully executed. Conway Belangia, the county director of elections and voter registration, his office staff and poll clerks staff were invaluable partners in the process and provided essential guidance and support on Election Day and during the weeks leading up to it. Much appreciation also goes to the candidates, Dorothy Dowe and Lindsey Jacobs, and their campaign staffs for their valiant efforts to engage and activate voters throughout the primary cycle.
The unsung stars of the day, however, are the GCDP volunteers who manned the polls, oversaw the election process, and provided background support from headquarters. The majority are not City of Greenville residents, yet they excitedly attended training and unselfishly gave their time and full attention to ensuring that a fair and proper election took place. They are a testament to the spirit of activism and commitment to our Democratic Party ideals that have found renewed vitality in Greenville County. They, as much as anything else that has happened since November 2016, inspire me to believe that we can achieve the outcomes we seek sooner now rather than much later as we have anticipated.
As our volunteers showed, if Democrats will join with each other to work collectively, we can achieve our goal of government at every level that reflects its citizens and strives to create an equal, just, and equitable guarantee that anyone, from any walk of life, can have a fair shot at the American Dream. During a presser after his town hall recently, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke answered a question about the kind of candidate who can win the 2020 presidential election by saying that it’s not important where someone falls on the progressive spectrum; what is important is who is included in the conversation and affirmed in platform agendas. Those words apply here on the local level as well as on the national campaign stage.
Every one of us must get behind Carrie Counton in the August 20 special election for SC House District 19, and every one of us must get behind our three Democratic candidates for Greenville City Council. Democrats in elected office will make a difference for our communities. We cannot afford to let personal judgement about whether a nominee meets or fails to meet a typically ego-centric standard of “Democratic appropriateness” to keep Democrats from winning seats. We must bring our energy and our voice to their campaigns – help to shape them from within while advancing the ground game – thereby engendering the change we seek.
Henry A. Wallace who served as 33rd US Vice President under FDR said, “If we put our trust in the common sense of common men and ‘with malice toward none and charity for all’ go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail.” That reality, that success, is ours to make. Let’s do it . . . together.