Monday, October 13, 2008

Blue Canvassing in Red Territory(or so I thought)

Saturday I went canvassing for the very first time. I had shied away from volunteering to canvass because I live in the darkest, blood Red section of Florida. In fact I was actually a little scared of my safety when I saw how nasty, and ok I'll just say it right out, RACIST supporters seem to be comfortable enough to get lately.(It's actually worse than what's been shown on CNN-don't believe me, just look on youtube) When I heard that someone had yelled,"Kill him," at a rally in Florida, I wanted to apologize on behalf of the state of Florida. I had visions of some crazy person chasing me down with a pitch fork because I was campaigning for "that one." Mind you, I have nothing against republicans, in fact, my whole family and one of my closest friend have Rs on their voter registration card. And I'm in NO way saying that republicans are racist, of course they aren't. Racists are racist, it's a simple as that. (I never heard anyone yell death threats at the Obama rally that I went to a few weeks ago. ) But I grew up in the South. Biracial, in the South. And I love the South and I love Southerners but as a woman, who's half Asian, I can tell you guys some stories about some of the stuff I had/still have to put up with. So it would be safe to assume that an Asian girl canvassing on behalf of "that(black) one" whatever the political affiliation, might be a little nervous. At any rate any Democrat would not be very enthusiastic about canvassing in Republican territory. I did it anyway. Actually my team leader told me that we outnumber Republicans in my county but we've just not been as vocal until recently. Whatever the outcome, I'd like for all of us in my community to just accept the fact that we don't all agree on everything, and there's nothing wrong with that.

So you guys would be happy to know that my experience was a really good one. Just about every door we knocked on was happy to see us and those who were not, didn't chase us away with pitchforks. And the people who were happy to see us acted as if they had been in hiding and were happy to be discovered. It was as if they were being intimidated by their neighbors to just shut up and take it because they were outnumbered, actually no it wasn't as if, it was. So they were all so excited to see friendly faces. Most of our house calls were senior citizens(it is Florida) and wanted to talk issues with us but spoke in hushed voices. When they did this I told them loudly,"No. Let your voice be heard, this is your community too. You're not a second class citizen just because you're blue in the red zone. You would be surprised how many of us there are, I have 7 pages here full of people to visit, almost all Democrats. There's no reason we should all remain quiet. " One lady wanted to make copies so that she could make some new friends but of course I can't disturb anyone's privacy. One old guy raised his fist when we told him who we were and said,"Yeah!!Yeah!! Go young people!" Some couples offered us cookies and told us they were proud of us. Another was worried about us and said,"Don't let anyone see what you're doing, you guys are gonna get yelled at or something. We had our signs run over." I said,"Let them see us. I want them to know we're here. And I will smile at them and flirt and win them over too." They liked that. One lady expressed concern over his middle name being Hussein because she really liked his ideas before that. I told her my middle name was Marie but that didn't make me the Virgin Mary, she laughed at that and asked for a ride to the polls. Another couple was still in their bathrobes and was embarrassed about the fact that they slept so late(it was only 10:30) but they had just started taking a dance class the night before. How cute is that? I thought about my Grandparents a lot. I don't even know what their party affiliation was, I know my Grandma was a huge fan of Reagan. Huge. I wonder if they would approve of my volunteering and if they would be proud of me.

The next day, I went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. On my way in, some guy made a smartass comment about my Obama teeshirt. Honestly I can't even tell you what he said, I wasn't even paying attention because I was thinking about all those people whose homes I visited and again understood why they felt the way they did. As I was standing in line, an old lady, who had heard, whispered to me,"I see you're wearing the right shirt." I said, "Say it louder ma'am, don't be shy. You're among friends here even if you didn't know it. I'm one of 90 volunteers." So she did and her husband did too. And they told me they already voted by absentee ballot. I told them I would be waving signs near the library and all over the beach next week so if they see me, to beep.

Phone banking, I'll still do, especially since the people I called yesterday didn't even know and never heard of early voting. But the human connection was better. It's nicer to see a smiling face knocking on your door than to hear your phone ring during dinner time, I think. And like I said, whatever happens in this election, I hope I have contributed in some small way to opening a dialogue or at least gave a feeling of belonging to the people I met who felt like outsiders in their own neighborhood. Needless to say, that night I called my team leader and told her to count me in to canvass at every date we have left.

6 comments:

marymurtz said...

I love you for this. I mean, I already did, but even more now.

MsLittlePea said...

Thanks. Sorry for all the typos. I just re-edited and noticed I had to erase the word "actually" about 4 times. Well I'm not an English major as you've probably noticed. I write how I talk so it gets a little wiggly when I'm excited about something.
:O)

SUEB0B said...

I am so proud of you!!! (3 exclamation points proud)

Mariposa said...

Wow...reading this post made me see how election happens there!

I am so proud of you...standing for what you believe...

seventh sister said...

I'm glad you are having a good time doing this. Austin, where I live, will vote blue as always. The rest of Texas will be red. I am hoping it will at least look maroon.

hele said...

I came here hoping to leave with a smile and as always I do :)

You are good people