As you can probably tell, there is little I like more than humiliating myself. Repeatedly. It makes for great stories.
So today I’m going to up the ante. Go deep into ritual humiliation. Voluntarily. With my eyes and my ego open.
Yup, I’m going to phone bank for political candidates. Barak Obama, Tim Kaine (VA Senate) and Kristin Cabral (VA-House).
I expect a lot of this:
“Hi, my name is Ely …” click.
But sometimes I’ll get through. And when I do, well, it’s a great feeling. I am participating in Democracy. Helping to make my country a better place. I am convincing folks that they should vote for the people I think are best for that office. And I am pretty good at it.
Some people won’t want to listen. Some will have gotten a zillion calls already. Some will be in the bathroom. Some will hang up.
Others will be disillusioned. Or disappointed.
So why do I do it? You know why if you read my blog. I am a bit opinionated, you see. But the thing I believe in most strongly is our democracy. Our right to vote. Because, as I keep saying
And if I can help get a few more votes for candidates I believe in, get folks who need to register, registered, transport folks to the polls who couldn’t otherwise get there, then I’m making a difference. ME! I’m taking an active part in the process of making things better in our country. Because I have done my best to help make my vision of what kind of a country we should have become a reality.
But I really do it for the stories. I always come away with great stories.
There was the time in 2006 when I was working on Jim Webb’s Senate primary.
The man said “I just want to beat George Allen, but I think both candidates are the same. I’m just going to flip a coin when I get to the polls.”
“Well then,” I responded, “you’d better take a two-headed coin, with Jim Webb’s head on both sides. Because Webb is only the one of these two guys who has a chance to beat incumbent Senator George Allen. If you want to get rid of Allen, vote for Webb. Now and in November.”
He promised me his vote, both times, of course. And it was entirely due to my phone call and my coin flip line. I put Jim Webb in the Senate. You’re welcome.
I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that George Allen showed himself to be a bigot. (George Allen is running for Senate in Virginia again. He is still a bigot.)
There was also the call in 2008 when I was working on Obama’s presidential campaign. I was calling registered voters:
“Hi, my name is Elyse and I’m calling from Obama for President HQ. Do you have a second to talk with me.”
“Sure,” said the man on the other end.
“Thanks, I appreciate your time. I just have a couple of questions. First, are you planning to vote Tuesday?”
“I always vote.”
“Me too. May I ask if you’ll be supporting Barak Obama for President?”
“I’d like to, but I was a mid-shipman with John McCain at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. I have to give him my vote,” he said.
“You were at school with Senator McCain?” I couldn’t resist, I had to ask. “I bet you did better academically than he did!”
The man got a little less chatty just then. “Well, I was actually a few years ahead of McCain. I graduated fifth from the bottom, too.”
Political work can be fun and fulfilling. And the stories are the bonus. I will be telling these and other stories to my grandchildren. Of course if the Republicans continue destroying the education system, I will also have to teach them history.
* * *
Have you ever done political calls? Canvassing? Worked the polls? Got a story? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will collect and post stories throughout the campaign season. And if you get a fun call from someone, send that to me too.
And remember — Elections matter. VOTE.