Sunday, November 2, 2008

Celebrating Independence With The 100th Post

As mentioned yesterday, I hauled myself out of bed at 5:00 am this morning so I could trek across the border into Missouri and do some volunteer work for the Obama campaign in Independence. (It's the former home of Harry Truman, though the town is incredibly reluctant to brag about that little factoid) According to FiveThirtyEight, Missouri is the closest state in the country. It also has a reputation as a presidential bellwether, so winning it would be huge. (And if Obama picks off Missouri, he's winning the election, so there's that)

I was about an hour and a half early, so I got to spend that time cutting my fingers on plastic door hangers. Yes, I am that dexterous. Any woman who wants my phone number need only shoot me an email.

They eventually sent me out to the streets, and not just because of my issues with the door hangers. I was teamed up with another volunteer (a lifelong Republican who crossed party lines and wore four different Obama buttons) and told to go do some canvassing. I drove out to Independence convinced I would spend all day in Missouri and work all three volunteer shifts. After walking around Independence from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm while lugging around a clipboard and vicious door hangers, I called it a day. Turns out idealism and one donut isn't much fuel.

I'll have to disappoint anyone looking for insights based on this experience. We talked to about 30 people (and visited about 100 homes), and only found three people who copped to being McCain supporters. Most who spoke with us said they planned to vote for Obama, though a handful were still undecided. The Obama folks were, as expected, thoroughly organized. They were also very nice to me, though I suspect that won't play much role Tuesday.

The heartwarming moment of the afternoon came when we were trekking through a predominantly African-American neighborhood. Only one of the five voters was home, but we stuck hangers on the doors of the absent ones.

We had just finished putting up a hanger and were walking down the street when two little girls, about seven or eight years old, excitedly ran up behind us.

"What ya doing?"

We explained that we were looking for people who liked Barack Obama. Their faces lit up.

"Oh, oh, we're voting for Obama!"

We smiled and asked if their parents were going to vote for Obama. They nodded. Then one of the girls noticed our door hangers and asked if she could have one. We gave one to her, of course, and then her friend simply had to have one too. They thanked us and sprinted away.

A couple minutes later they came sprinting right back out of a house, the hangers tightly gripped in their hands, with a couple more friends jealously tagging along after them. Naturally those friends desperately needed their own door hangers, and once we equipped everyone with a hanger there was much rejoicing.

After knocking on our last door, we walked back to our car so we could move on to a new neighborhood. Behind us we heard four or five girly, delightfully shrill little voices melodically chanting, "O-bam-a! O-bam-a! O-bam-a!"

If that doesn't move you at least a little you need to check your full-sized aortic pump.

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