Saturday, October 30, 2004

Winning Wisconsin, Part 2

It’s 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening and I’m SO glad we get an extra hour tonight from the ending of daylight savings time (don’t forget!). I’m physically beat. I got up this morning at 6:30 am to get in an hour of exercise before canvassing because I’m used to exercising every morning. I should have skipped it! Two shifts (one before lunch and one after) of walking and knocking and walking and knocking is EXHAUSTING. I’m ready for bed right now.

First shift I covered 70 (yes, seventy) houses. Most weren’t home (this is typical: canvassers get way more “not homes” than anything else). Of the ones that were home, several either don’t vote, won’t vote or wouldn’t talk to me (this is all typical. Many people are burned out with the election and are sick of canvassers). Of the ones that were home AND would tell me who they are voting for, there were 11 Kerry supporters and 5 Bush supporters. Not too bad.

Second shift: covered 50 houses. Of the ones that were home and would tell me how they’re voting, there were 5 Kerry supporters and 0 Bush supporters.

Canvassing isn’t exciting. It’s a lot of very physical work for what can seem like few results, but consider that there are thousands of Wisconsin canvassers getting those kinds of results every day. That adds up to the votes that will win Wisconsin for Kerry. We’ll go back and make sure every one of those Kerry voters gets to the polls on Tuesday. But the way my feet hurt by 5 p.m., all I could think was, “Kerry better #%$@^ win this thing!”

And, yes, there were some undecided voters. When I knocked, introduced myself and asked if we could count on them to vote for Kerry on Tuesday, they said, “I still don’t know yet.” I usually just smiled and made sure they knew where their polling place is, then thanked them for their time and moved on. But I did talk for a moment with a few undecided voters who said they are disgusted with how the candidates are conducting themselves and they don’t really believe either candidate deserves to win. I nodded and came dangerously close to agreeing with them. I know I’m supposed to plug my guy in moments like that, but I just can’t put my heart into it. No wonder I give my dates mixed signals: even a strong action like driving five hours to live in Wausau, WI for five days to canvass for Kerry doesn’t include my 100% consistent support of the senator. If an undecided voter can’t choose a candidate, I really can’t say I blame them at this point.

So the increasingly mean-spirited and hyperbolic Kerry and Bush ads are actually hurting Kerry’s and Bush’s campaigns at this point because many Americans DON’T want to put up with that kind of manipulative, bullshit propaganda. I’m actually beginning to believe the undecided voters are the only ones who haven’t gotten caught up in the emotionality of this election. We’re all acting based on our strong emotions either for or against Bush, for or against the war, etc. But the undecided’s are not feeling emotional, they’re just sizing up these candidates for what they’re worth and they are NOT impressed and I can’t blame them. Without emotion driving me, I wouldn’t be killing myself to get Kerry elected. My repulsion with Bush keeps John Kerry in my rose-colored focus. Without Bush as the option, I might not back Kerry. Remember, I still want Dennis Kucinich in the White House.

And I have now had my first really negative experience with a Republican. One guy maybe 30 years old, opened his door, saw my Kerry button and said, his voice full of hatred, “I wouldn’t vote for that Clintonesque idiot if my life depended on it.” And he closed the door. I’m grateful that he didn’t cuss or yell or make it a long rant, but the pure vitrol of his statement really struck me and I didn’t respond well. I slumped away from his house feeling disillusioned and drained. Is that what we’re up against? Is that the wrath, fear and hatred that drives American society? Is that emotion part of my homeland? Suddenly my faith in the entire human race vanished and the world felt hostile and alien. I walked slowly to the next house, trying to recover some enthusiasm for my work.

But I do take some pleasure in canvassing, even when I get Bush supporters. I just like people and I like interacting with them. Also, Wisconsin is beautiful right now. My favorite moment today was climbing a gentle hill, wet road gravel under my shoes, leaves of bright yellow and sometimes orange/red above my head and spindly black trees witnessing my mission. The air smelled rich with wood from the rain that had been falling all morning (not too bad, I had an umbrella) and I just loved being outside. That was a good moment.

So here I am, back at the hotel and tired. This was my schedule today:
Exercise at 6:30 a.m
Breakfast at 8:00 a.m. (compliments of Baymont Inn)
Start canvassing at 10 a.m.
Lunch (donated pizza back at headquarters) at 1 p.m.
More canvassing at 2:30
Give up and return to hotel at 5 p.m.

And that will be my schedule for Sunday and Monday and Tuesday (but I’m dropping the 6:30am exercise). I’ll be as glad when the election is over as the most jaded undecided voter.

Since I am able to keep up the blogging while I’m here, feel free to comment! It helps me feel in touch.

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