Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oh, politics

You know grassroots campaigning is in your bones when you begin to see life in chunks of doors, not days. Last night, those doors were an endless year of no’s. I coaxed myself from house to house singing, "Every door's a new door..." It was a beautiful, cold, fall night atop one of Seattle’s hills. I could see the black lake below, the cityscape ahead, and the cotton-like whisps of grey clouds, edged in pink, above. But I didn't care. Democrats weren't giving me any money, and I was furious.

With 41 days left until the election, I'm feeling the urgency all Democrats should. You can hear it in the vigorous, persistent way I pound my knuckles against the doors. I can feel it in my temperament. This is not just a job anymore. I'm fighting a war for the White House. As the circus of this election season plays out, and the candidates’ positions and pasts become clearer, I'm getting more passionate. If you've been reading the paper, you understand. Embroiled in the fight, it's becoming harder and harder to let signs of voter apathy roll off my back.

Last night was particularly tough. Oh, the battle for five precious minutes of weekday thoughtfulness time. First there's getting through the initial introduction, which is a challenge all its own. Then there's the jarring beginning, when they see my unfamiliar face at the door. When one woman opened the door the other night, the first words out of her bewildered mouth were: "I don't even know who you are."

I responded, "Yes, ma'am, that's because we've never met. I'm going door to door tonight, and no one out here knows who I am." She lightened up a bit after that, laughing. It's funny how responding with a harsh tone can snap people out of their grumpiness and into a lighter mood.

But quite a few people are determined to keep the tone hostile. These people treat our interaction the same way you would treat a necessary but loathsome interaction with mildewed socks--deal with them delicately enough to throw them away without allowing them to get too close to you.

Some see me through the window and shake their finger at me, narrowing their eyes like I am up to no good, and they're on to me. Others open the door and say you know, we're just so busy right now. It's Monday night, you know? A school night. Their eyebrows are raised in high, concerned arches, like the very situation of being entrenched in the throws of Monday is excuse enough to stop me from finishing my first three sentences. Woah, Monday, I think. Your kids must have homework to do. Maybe they're worried they won't pass the unfair tests imposed by the No Child Left Behind Act, which Obama would significantly reform while McCain would give it few token tweaks. Yeah, I can see why you don't have time. Or maybe you are stressed because the economy is unstable, and you need to prepare for a busy week of struggling to save your business. I get it now. You're too stressed out by the broken system to be bothered to participate in the solution. That makes total sense.

But getting angry at these people isn't too effective, so lately I've given some thought to how I might play up the fact that I am a human person. I could arrive on a horse, showing how down-home and in touch with animals I am. Or I could wear pigtails and carry a sign that says "Car Wash" or "Lemonade." That seemed to work for me in previous entrepreneurial endeavors...but I'm not eight years old anymore. Ooh, I know, I could come with a Bible. Then they would know that I am a good person, not some political junkie tied up in all this corruption. I could start off talking about God and the end times, and how I am concerned for their soul. But awe, damnit, I think some other group already has that covered.

I guess I'll just stick to my guns about things and stop trying to change for everyone. I'll keep driving home my boring message about the stressful issues that make people think, gasp, when they are not at work. I'll keep talking about healthcare and education, and putting an end to the secretive Republican politics and the Iraq war. These talking points are not making me too popular, but they're all I've got.

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