Sunday, October 12, 2008

Campaign Trail '08

Frustrated with being stuck in a McCain state, where the electoral college renders my vote useless, I spent the weekend campaigning for Barack Obama in Grand Junction, Colorado. Colorado's a swing state in the election, so butting my head against the conservative brick wall in a small town was a much more efficient use of my brain cells than wasting them in Utah. Call me sustainable, I guess. Grand Junction is an oil-rich town, where the most common beast of burden is a white Halliburton utility truck and the oil industry creates an artificial housing market boom despite the rest of the country being in a recession. It was a very interesting time to be out knocking on doors for Obama, and the responses indicated that even within this hardcore conservative environment a good chunk of people were ditching the ol' white guy in favor of some new blood.

I had never canvassed before, and was struck by what a lottery it was, and also by how easily people can be persuaded if you unmask a few myths and steer them away from Fox news and into their own decisions through watching the debates and speeches. It is both incredibly unnerving and incredibly rewarding to talk to complete strangers about things you believe in, and people were everything from angry to condescending to interesting to downright thankful to have informed political conversation.

I spent both days in a smattering of retirement communities and rich McMansions in the A.M., and then found myself in poor shanty redneck-havens in the evening. It seems that everyone in Colorado is white and has a ton of yapping dogs, they just get bigger in the poorer neighborhoods. Seriously though, it was profoundly impacting to see the disconnect between the rich and the poor, and hear how differently both classes approached issues. The rich were calling Obama the worst names, saying that he was a terrorist and a socialist and was going to take all their money and give it to the poor, who didn't deserve it. The working poor were either too tired to talk, or concerned that a vote for Obama would mean losing their stable jobs at an oil field. They also tried to equate similarity with say, Sarah Palin as a cause for support. I connected much better with either the very old or the very working class. It was very gratifying to hear how irate and scared the rich people were, and then drive right across town and tell their less wealthy neighbors what I had just heard.

I traipsed across manicured lawns and ramshackle squalor, and everywhere people were concerned and thoughtful. I had the feeling I was the member of a secret society, where people would whisper at their door "I'm for Obama, don't tell my husband!" or tell us not to even bother with the rest of the neighborhood because they were all a bunch of dyed-in-the-wool curmudgeons. At one point Adam and Lindsay, who were campaigning with me, stopped a woman in a rich neighborhood who was worried about showing her support. "Your whole neighborhood is secretly supporting Obama," they said, "Everyone on the block just thinks everyone else is voting for McCain." It was pretty fun stuff.

So many people are getting all tied into this pundit stuff, but so many others are sick of it and just want a good future. Obama's that future, and America owes it to itself and the rest of the world to get this guy in office. Do what you can, folks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you go davey! thanks for your efforts.