Taking Stock

Box of Work

We’re prepping for our annual inventory at the home, farm and auto supply store.

That means counting and labeling everything in the warehouse, and getting every possible item to the sales floor where hired staff can count it and customers can find it to buy it.

Inventory occupies a big space in the life of a retail outlet.

So it is with everything at home while getting ready for full retirement in 36 days.

We benefited from building a new home in 1993 by having to do very few major repairs. We changed the roof once, repaired the garage door, and that’s it. We’ve cycled through major appliances — refrigerator, dishwasher, washer and dryer — but have had very little work on the structure itself. A lot of little things require attention now.

In a flurry of emails this week I confirmed four part-time, seasonal jobs this year. One is writing for Blog for Iowa this summer, and the others are farm-related. Combine home repairs, these four jobs, my community organizing work, and political work during the midterm election cycle and there will be plenty to keep me busy in 2018.

Last night I ran into my former state representative Ro Foege at the warehouse club. I automatically shook his hand then apologized for spreading germs from my recent illness.

“I just came from the capitol,” he said. “I was exposed to a lot worse up there.”

I have a different view of political engagement this year. Mainly I want to be a helper of younger people who are engaging in politics. That means volunteering where I can, encouraging people, and contributing in ways people ask.

The metaphor of WYSIWYG, taken from the advent of computer graphical user interface, is an apt model for what I’m doing. The operative function of building an electorate presumes nothing and is rooted in a belief the 2018 general election electorate is not pre-made. It is being formed as we proceed through time and events toward election day. We have to pay attention to what is happening in real time and modify our activities to create a successful process.

It began with this week’s off-year caucus and engages voters with our many primary candidates for statewide and local offices. I see four remaining milestones for building the electorate: the June 5 primary, summer parade season, the fall campaign beginning on Labor Day, and the final week before the election. If we work early and smart, we should know where we stand as election day approaches. We should not freak out, just do the work.

Tonight after a shift at the home, farm and auto supply store I plan to meet Iowa gubernatorial candidate John Norris at a house party in Coralville. He may be the one for whom I’ll vote in the primary. More importantly, I want to see who is turning out for Norris and ask one or two questions if there is an opportunity. It’s not about my single vote, but about understanding the process. It’s not about me or him but who we are as Democrats in a state Donald Trump won by more than nine points. It’s about taking stock of our lives and effecting change in our government.

As some caucus-goers said Monday night, “we have to do something in November.”

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