Friday, October 10, 2008

Now's the time

I’m so inspired this morning. Barack Obama, the man, not the politician, is inspiring me. On a little video clip emailed to me by his ever-persistent campaign, I'm struck by his air of sincerity backstage, where he reminisced with his wife and daughters before taking the stage for his convention speech.

And then there are my experiences out on the street last night, when my campaign work proved a humbling experience once again. I stood outside of QFC, on Seattle's punk-drag of Broadway, flagging people down with high, friendly waves and shouts of “Hi there, do you have a few minutes to help elect Barack Obama?”

Most of the time, people replied with “what?” I think my frozen lips were having some trouble forming the words clearly. I’d repeat my question, and—most of the time—say, oh, no, and walk on.

But street canvassing, generally, is a gold mine waiting to happen. We don’t talk to as many people as we do at the door, seeing as it’s tougher to get someone to respond to a hello on the street than a knock at the door. But those who do stop are rather friendly. We’re coached to thank them for stopping, shake hands warmly, then launch into our shpeel about there being only 26 days left to wage our fight for the White House, and how we need funding to ensure that we get organizers on the ground in the swing states to register voters.

Unluckily enough for me, I only got twenty people to stop in five hours. I wasn’t using the comic line “We’re working to send Sarah Palin back to Alaska” that proved so successful with one of our canvassers. Maybe I’ll try that next time. But I do have to raise the question: what is up with Capitol Hill?

Maybe the problem was that people are well versed in the word “no” outside that QFC, where panhandlers often gather. Last night, they held up a sign that read “Barack Obama has $25,000. We have none.”

Man, in my dreams of my future jobs when I was young, I never did anticipate that I’d be competing with homeless people. It was, most definitely, a humbling experience, being out there alongside them, doing essentially the same thing. But we did not shout out the same lines.

“You don’t have to be a Rockafella to help a fella” they said.
“There’s no nation like donation,” they chanted.
“There’s no city like generocity.” Quite clever.
Then the nonsequitor, “get down with the kick down.” Which always left me scratching my head.

It rained. I froze. But I got ten contributions. And I decided, no matter what the means, when it comes to working for change, there’s no night like tonight.

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