We walked in - a classroom, much like one of the classrooms where I sat for three years, learning the law of perpetuity, the exception to the exception to the hearsay rules, and other such obscurities. As we walked in, there was a buzz. Of people chatting to each other, making small talk, trying to make a connection, expressing eagerness in their common purpose. We sat off to the side, not ready to claim the place just yet. We felt like guests, even though we belonged as much as anyone else.
We sat there and waited for the training session to begin. We were there to learn how to be poll monitors on election day in Nevada. The session started at 5pm but people were still streaming in through the double doors. The room that had been less than a third full when we walked in was now completely full, with stragglers filling the aisles and standing along the walls. There must have been over 200 of us. Just in this one session. There are more than 30 such training sessions for Nevada alone.
The person training us was an attorney from the NY office of White & Case who had obviously taken a leave from his paid position. The room was filled with lawyers from Berkeley and its surrounding area, their hair unkempt, dressed in raggedy sweatshirts, many still bearing the markers of the bygone hippie days, still carrying their notions of social justice.
I sat there happily, proud to have my legal background serve some useful purpose, for something greater than just a paycheck. It dawned on me that I've been waiting for something like this, to be part of something larger than mere survival. And what a relief to cast aside the cynicism, disappointment, and the indifference of past elections and volunteer with my doe-eyed optimism. Is this what democracy feels like?