Sunday, March 02, 2008

Canvassing on Red Mill

Just got back from canvassing my neighborhood. I picked up the packet yesterday and deliberately chose the streets all walking distance from my house. I got to visit with so many of my neighbors (some I've met trick or treating, some I've never met, several who are friends whose political views I didn't know until now...). It was a great experience!

The weather cooperated (we're up to 60 degrees which made for a wonderful, sunny, nearly-spring walk). I have to tell you how encouraged I am! We live in the middle of Republican-ville, seriously. Yet in my neighborhood, I ran into many Obama supporters (both Dems - the few - and Reps - the many). Some of the neighbors were just so happy to see me canvassing on Barack's behalf and asked if there were more than "just the two of us" for Barack.

As I walked, a white mom and dad rolled by with a plastic wagon and two kids inside. The wagon was covered in Obama signs and the kids were waving Popsicles sticks with pictures of Barack. The parents rushed over to me to ask if anyone in the neighborhood besides me was for Barack. I said yes and they cheered up. (We both know this area is the bastion of all things Republican and talk radio.) Then these neighbors asked if anyone needed yard signs as they had two extra. (You have to understand - last week 10,000 signs came into Cincinnati's HQ and were gone in just a day.) The craving for materials is at a high right now and none are to be found.

I directed them to the two homes where I was asked for yard signs. Hooking up neighbors - love it.

I met a Nigerian man who talked my ear off when he discovered my enthusiasm for Obama (he was delightful); I met a young African American police officer who wasn't sure if his registration to vote from years ago would still qualify him to vote today. I told him it would. He said he never votes usually but he wants to vote for Barack. He took information for his girlfriend too. Both Obama supporters.

One older couple told me they would be voting for "the lady." The wife was firm on it, but her husband said, "We're die-hard Democrats and we think both candidates are terrific so whatever happens is good with us. I've gone back and forth."

I ran into a friend whose husband has terminal liver cancer so we stood talking and catching up (hard but good); understandably unconcerned with the election right now. Talked with another neighbor I haven't chatted with in a couple of years and he and I had a very good political discussion in spite of the fact that for now, he's leaning toward Nader. I got to talk about Obama's appeal which was good practice. It is interesting to talk with disillusioned Republicans. I think that will be the key to November.

What encouraged me the most was realizing that my neighborhood is not the monolith that it appears. Not everyone is Republican, not every Republican is implacably against the Democrats. One neighbor up the street declared, "I'm a Republican for Obama - have any signs?" I told her I'm a Republican for Obama too. Instant bonding.

One guy challenged me with anti-Obama rhetoric, but ended up laughing with me by the end. (Warning: he's a typical racist from these parts.) He started with the "Are we just trying to elect Obama because we feel guilty about slavery? Is the appeal that he's black? That's it, isn't it?"

"Obama's half white."

He looked startled. Then said, "Really? Well no one ever says that that I've heard."

I responded, "Well it's true. I don't know if slavery can ever be paid back. But Obama is different than the other candidates for a lot of reasons." (I then attempted to enlighten him.)

So then he started on the typical "Obama has no experience" line and that the Dems are no good. I countered that I'm a registered Republican, voted Bush twice and what good did it do us? Bingo! Suddenly I was his new best friend as he launched on Bush and all the failed policies of the Republicans.

By the end of our chat, he said, "Hey I sure hope you don't hate me now!" I said, "No way. It was a good conversation, and besides, my kids trick or treat here. How could I hate you?"

It was such a nice walk; I feel all connected to my neighborhood and the world. Thank you Obama.

(Tally: 13 for Obama, 20 non-supporters, 15 not home, 5 undecided)

So not bad given what I thought our neighborhood would be like.

Fired up and ready to go!!


Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

If Barack Obama gets the nomination and I hope we know by Tuesday then I intend to join you on the canvassing circuit here in Bakersfield. Let's just say I too now have the Obama bug...Enjoy reading your political updates....Bill

Dave said...

That's an inspiring report, Julie! I imagine that my neighborhood is not quite as monolithic as I've imagined it is, even though I'm on Republican mailing and robocall lists simply by virtue of my address. You know that I and the rest of the country will be watching tomorrow night when the returns come in! Regardless of the final outcome, I know that your collective efforts in Ohio have made that state a lot closer and more competitive for Obama than many would have dared imagine a month or two ago.

brian said...

Very interesting, Julie. I'm surprised at the response you got in your neighborhood. It's encouraging to learn people are more open minded than I gave them credit for.

rmkton said...

I sure hope you Ohioans (and those in Texas) can cliched this deal, otherwise us Pennsylvania primary stragglers may have to do some quick mobilization...

Thanks for putting in the time and effort for Obama. I am getting excited once again that things can change.

R. Michael

Ed G. said...

Good for you Julie!

I think your testimony touches on why I am so excited about Sen. Obama for President. It's not that he can solve anyone's problem by himself -- but he will get us motivated to do more ourselves.

SusansPlace said...

Love your enthusiasm...go girl! I have received 4 phone calls for Obama(2 live and 2 recorded) and none for Hilary. In Texas, no less. I will say his phone campaign is going strong! I even learned from one of the callers that you can vote twice in Texas...general election and then the caucus. Anywhoo, still thinking about whether to vote for Obama or Hilary. I love your enthusiasm!


Lesley said...