Maine is the most important place in the world to me, but I understand that, in terms of the country as a whole, we aren’t that important. We are small, we are rural, we are poor; we have a grand total of four Electoral College votes and a population of a little over a million people. And I am also small, rural and poor. I struggle with feelings of powerlessness against all the injustices in the world. I’m not rich, I’m not famous; I am just one person tucked up in the farthest northeastern corner of this country.

But I live one hour away from the New Hampshire border. And New Hampshire, despite also being small and rural, actually matters. It’s got the all-important First In The Nation primary election; if you place well in New Hampshire, it unlocks money, and media time, and voters start seeing you as a candidate who can win. So every Saturday for the past several weekends, I have been driving to New Hampshire to go door to door canvassing for Elizabeth Warren.

I got started volunteering for the Warren campaign because a friend who went to the same elementary school that I did asked if I would tag along, and my Catholic school loyalty runs very deep. But I stayed because – well, it’s hard to explain, sort of like when I took up distance running. I wouldn’t exactly say that I enjoy it. I would much rather spend my Saturdays sitting on my butt in my cozy chair by the fire, watching TV with the dog. But I also really want Elizabeth Warren to be the next president, and I figured I had to work with the tools I have (car, legs, customer service skills) to make that happen. It’s also a good way to preemptively quiet my conscience if she loses the primary; at least I can say that I tried. As Elizabeth Warren says, “You don’t get what you don’t fight for.” And as my dad always said, “If you want a job done right, do it yourself.”

The actual door-knocking is fairly easy, and not too scary, after I got past the first few houses (like most kids, I was raised to not go knocking on strangers’ doors). I like talking to people (a trait I inherited from my mother and grandmother and a whole line of chatty women stretching back generations) and so far, everyone in New Hampshire has been very polite, even when it is clear they are sick to death of door-knockers and politics and chirpy 20-somethings. I love the drive, because I usually take the back route through Alfred and Waterboro and Lebanon, all the way across the border to beautiful New Hampshire, land of mountains and cute old houses and very cheap gas (protip: the One Stop in Rochester is the way to go). I’ve been to Rochester, Durham and Newmarket. There’s usually free Dunkin’ food in the campaign offices (they know their audience).

And, most importantly (for me, at least) there have been dogs. So many dogs. Dogs in houses, dogs walking around, dogs for me to pet. And sometimes cats, gazing imperiously from windows, which is equally fun for me. I know that, in terms of democracy in general and the world at large, there are more important things. And you have to take joy where you can find it. Sometimes the joy is in seeing people excited to vote for the same candidate you are, and sometimes it is because you see five Bernese mountain dogs in one backyard.

I don’t know if I’m making a difference. But New Hampshire is a small state and life is weird and you never really know what will make a difference until it’s happened. The butterfly effect, and all that. And it’s good practice for the general election, because I’m sure I will end up volunteering and door-knocking for whoever the Democratic nominee is. Coming from a military family, I view presidential elections as a chance to choose my brother’s boss. I would like to fire his current boss and get a new one. We have many good options for that.

The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. If you can vote in that one, you should. The Maine primary is March 3. You might see me on your doorstep before then.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial

 


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