Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Back in the Saddle Again... at Least Part-Time Volunteer
Tonight I drove to downtown Tacoma to spend three hours calling folks from the Obama/Gregoire/Dicks/Smith/DEMS storefront to encourage them to fill out the primary election ballots they'll be receiving in the next couple of days. Our General Election candidates will be decided in mid-August. It seems we're always doing something voting-related here in Washington State, doesn't it? First we had caucuses; now we have a primary; and in November is the General Election.
Between now and then I want to dedicate at least two evenings a week (and many hours during the day weekdays) calling folks and getting a sense of where they stand on the candidates. It's really quite a lot of fun -- which I in no way expected!
We mostly call people who have historically voted Democrat, but pretty soon we're going to start calling Undecideds and see what we can do to encourage them to visit the chrisgregoire.com and barackobama.com websites... and to see if we can help dispel some of the rumors and inaccuracies that have been shamelessly distributed about these two candidates. This shouldn't be too hard, I wouldn't think. There are persuasive, logical reasons to vote for Christine Gregoire for Governor and for Barack Obama for President.
Funny story. I called one home and asked for a fellow's name who was on my call list. His wife answered. I asked, "Is David home?" She said, "Yes, may I ask who's calling?" I said, "Sure. My name's Kris and I'm calling from the Barack Obama headquarters in downtown Tacoma." "Oh!" she said. "Let me get him!" I said, "You know who I am, and you're still going to go get him?" She said, "You bet!"
My first thought was, "OMG, I'm about to be crucified by a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. I can feel it in my bones. Lord, have mercy!"
"David" (not his real first name) came on the line and said, "Hello." I said, "Your wife told you who I was, and you came to the phone?!" He said, "Yes." I said, "Without a cattle prod?" He laughed and said "Yes!" I said, "That's pretty wild!"
He said, "You think that's wild? This afternoon a lady wearing a Dino Rossi t-shirt stopped by [Rossi is the Republican candidate for Governor] and introduced herself as someone wanting to take a non-partisan survey!" I laughed and said, "Really?!" He said, "Yeah..." I commented, "So... since I came at you straight up, no attempt at hiding my true colors, you had no problem with me." He said, "That's right." (Turns out he was wildly for Obama, so my sense of foreboding was a total false alarm.)
Another fellow I called -- looking for his 21 year old daughter, who's a registered voter -- told me (a total stranger!), "I'll give you her new phone number if you'll call and give her hell for shacking up with her boyfriend!" (How's that for "substitute parenting"?) I deferred... but he relented and gave her number to me anyway.
You think calling on behalf of a political party is B_O_R_I_N_G? Not even close. People are wonderful, for the most part, when you meet them with kindness, transparency, and a genuine attitude of caring about how they feel about the candidates. I didn't hear a single wild-eyed rant about any of the candidates -- DEM or GOP -- during the three hours I called (reaching about 120 homes). And people are intrigued or really fired up about the election this year, for sure. Some are still undecided, but those who aren't are decent and not in any way condescending if they come down on the other side. In fact, the very few who did come down on the GOP side tonight admitted that the rest of their family (even their spouses) were voting for Obama or Gregoire... I know that feeling! One of my sisters wouldn't vote for a Democrat if I held her feet to a branding iron. Not that I would, no matter how important I think it is that we take a different course with all deliberate speed. I'm humane and respectful, dammit... hee hee hee)
So we have a real nail-biter going on (especially on the Republican side, I suspect). Our future standing in the world is at stake and even families are split right down the middle as to who should lead us into it.
I'M not conflicted in the least. Haven't been for eight years!