San Diego Celebrates After Philly Gets the Win

Gritty 2020

I phone banked for Biden and Democrats’ Get Out the Vote campaign the weekend before the election, and on through election day. For those four days I spent my shifts calling voters in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Texas. The majority of my calls were made to West Philly.

Most of us spent the better part of the next five days watching Philadelphia on TV, waiting to see if Joe Biden would complete an impressive comeback. West Philadelphia ended up being perhaps the most important community in the country as tens of thousands of mail in ballots stood by, waiting to be counted. In the wee hours of election night, early Wednesday morning, Biden trailed by more than 700,000 votes statewide. Then he didn’t.  

Saturday morning, after Pennsylvania was called and Biden was named President elect, my wife and I went out in San Diego. We live in North Park, a hip neighborhood where Black Lives Matter posters and Biden/Harris supporters are prevalent. We could hear shouting and honking horns in the streets.

It reminded me of the tunnels in D.C. after a Capitals home win, full of horns blaring in a rhythmic call and response. We went down to the car and drove out to join them, which turned out to be a great decision.

We found groups on every street corner, and pedestrians walking in between, waving flags, chanting, and cheering. Others shouted and saluted from al fresco dining areas as we drove by. We thought it only made sense to follow the honking cars down University Avenue to Hillcrest.

For those unfamiliar with San Diego, Hillcrest is a beautiful, vibrant, and hip community which is home to San Diego’s Pride Parade and fondly referred to as “the gay-borhood.” The drive was an expedition through an eruption of pure joy.

We passed continuous groups of revelers on the sidewalks and we soon found ourselves in the heart of an impromptu motorcade parade. We drove from 30th Street down to 4th Street, immersed in a cacophony of unadulterated joy and syncopated horns. 

The outpouring of happiness, love, and relief was palpable and energizing. There was very little hostility, and none towards un elected Republican citizens. People were just overjoyed and needed to share their happiness with others. It was beautiful.

In honor of Pennsylvania, my Pittsburgh Steelers fan of a wife tucked her Terrible Towel in to fly from the closed rear window. In honor of Philadelphia, and the enormous role which the City of Brotherly Love played in securing the election and ending the Trump administration, she brought her Gritty t-shirt. It featured the googly eyed Philadelphia Flyers mascot’s large face with a word bubble stating, “Fuck Trump,” and it was very popular.

Gritty, the mascot of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers

Every time we stopped, and at multiple traffic slow downs in between, people would shout, cheer, and run over to take pictures with the heroic monster she waved out the window. As a Washington sports fan, I have always viewed Philadelphia as villains. The Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers have all ruined numerous days and may screw directly off–and that’s not even mentioning the Pittsburgh Penguins. But Pennsylvania came through in the clutch.

Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties sealed the win and the entire world broke into rapturous applause. Philadelphia was our hero and the people on the street in San Diego knew it. Everyone appreciated Philly, and everyone loved Gritty. Biden should invite Gritty to the White House.

Lois and West Philidelphia

Last weekend, and on through Tuesday’s election, I phone-banked for Biden and Democrats’ Get Out the Vote campaign. For those four days I spent my shifts calling voters in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Texas encouraging supporters to vote and offering to help them find their polling place or make a voting plan. Most of my calls that evening were to West Philly.

West Philadelphia Commons, Creative Commons

The majority of the people I talked to had already voted or were ready to do so. Quite a few people were irritated about all of the calls they’d received. A few people were republicans, and one of them wasn’t even a prick. Many of the people I spoke to, however, were friendly, grateful, and hopeful for the election.

A lot of the people I reached were excited to share their enthusiasm, including a Philadelphia campaign manager in the thick of it. Some were a little more apprehensive and wanted to talk about how much the election meant to them. A dozen or so even needed my help to find their polling location or some other information. But my very favorite interaction was with Lois.

Lois is 90-years-old, lives in West Philadelphia, and was my second to last call Monday evening, around 8:50 p.m. for her on the east coast. She quickly informed me that she did not need my help, but she was excited to share her plan.

“My neighbors are going to drive me right down the street, first thing in the morning,” she told me proudly. “I’ve got my ballot, I’ve got my bag packed, I’ve got my roller and my folding chair, in case we have to wait in a long line.”

“I’ve been voting since the 1950s and I’ve never missed an election,” she said. “I’m ready to go vote him out of our house.”

I told her that she was an inspiration and must have seen some significant elections in her time. She replied that she remembered voting for Kennedy, and remembered her parents voting for FDR when she was growing up in the Catskills, “across the Hudson River from his home.”

Lois and her church had linked up with churches across seven states and earlier that day they spent something like 6 hours joined in prayer, asking that people would find kindness, let go of their anger, and show up to vote and help heal the country. She told me that it was important that America elect leaders who were good people again.

Lois thanked me for my efforts and I thanked her for her example, before she said goodbye and hung up to go to bed. She had big plans in the morning.

If you have ever wanted to do something easy to support a candidate or cause, beyond donating $15, I endorse phone banking. The bad interactions were brief, and you still get to help everyone by removing them from the list. The good interactions were longer and heartwarming, and sometimes you even get to help some people take action. That’s a bunch of wins.

Gritty 2020
Gritty, of the Philadelphia Flyers

Early Tuesday morning I saw a video going around of a 90 year old lady in Southwest Philly dancing her way to the polls. I hoped it was Lois, it sure fit the picture in my mind; I later learned her name was Ms. Mildred, so perhaps not. If not, West Philly is apparently full of cool older ladies, in addition to Gritty.

I spent the better part of the next 5 days watching Philadelphia on TV and often thought of Lois. West Philadelphia ended up being perhaps the most important community in the country this week, and they came through. Lois is awesome and she did it. I hope she feels proud and I hope she’s dancing.

westphilly #westphiladelphia #BidenHarris2020 #pennsylvania #vote