September 21st, 2008


Mom's Stories from the Campaign Trail

As I mentioned in a previous post, my mom's going door-to-door for the Obama campaign back in Ohio. Here is her latest thrilling story of campaigning in a battleground state. She interrupted her annual outing to the Yankee Peddler craft festival to call and tell me this:

So we come up to this house. We were here to see a 79-year-old woman. My list, by the way, is a list supposedly comprising undecideds, and we're supposed to ask for those people no matter who answers the door.

She's not sure, she's not sure, because she wanted to vote for a woman. And now that Hillary wasn't nominated, she doesn't know what to do, "and now that McCain's picked that woman, I might have to vote for McCain."

The woman who goes door-to-door with me is really good, and she says, "Well, you know Palin's opinions on most of the issues are exactly the opposite of Clinton's."

She says she knows, she knows, but she just isn't sure. Then, as we're talking, we hear somebody shout, "Who're you talking to to?" and this craggy old man comes to the door. He's 83 years old, which we know because he tells us, and he says, "What are you girls talking about? You're not talking about that warmonger, are you?"

She throws up her hands and toddles away. He says, "Can I come out and talk to you girls? Can an old man come out and talk to you? I promise I won't swear at you or call you any names."

We say sure. He comes out, puts his hand on his chin, and starts ranting about "that warmonger." Eventually we figure out he's talking about Bush. So we figure this is good, right? But no! They are total Clintonites! He keeps going on about "our President Clinton": "he was a great man, and they kicked him out for something they
all do! And now Hillary's lost the nomination! Can you imagine what she feels after losing to that one? Do you know what I mean?"

Well, of course we know what he means, but we don't say anything. But he goes ahead and tells us.

"Because you know he's black. I'm not saying that to be mean. He admitted himself that he's black! When in American history has anyone ever voted for a black President?"

At this point we realize we're not going to make any headway here. As we're leaving, he says, "You see, I promised I wouldn't call you any names, and I didn't."

No, you didn't. Thank you very much.

ETA: Many people have commented that they find this True Story of the Campaign Trail distressing or discouraging. I prefer to marvel at the human drama behind our nation's politics. It's so easy to make sweeping statements about Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, red state and blue state, but each individual voter is a separate, complex story. Somewhere out there in the heartland of America is a craggy old man who really hates Bush, really loves the Clintons, and really, really hates black people. What will he do come November? And what of his long-suffering wife, who just wants to pull the lever for a fellow vajayjay-owner before she dies? Think what Steinbeck could have made of this! Or Faulkner!

Also, it turns out Obama could get away with being black if he just didn't admit it. Like Palin and the Bridge to Nowhere.