Saturday, October 27, 2012

Vote Builders

Vote Builders - Eagan, Minnesota

Old Woman Dozing by Nicolaes Maes

I messed up today. I was scheduled to phone Democratic voters from 1-5 at the Obama campaign office in Eagan, MN. I thought I was on last week's schedule of 4-7 P.M.  

If you're tired of the election, tired of the ads, and feeling a tad cynical, I have a remedy for you. Talk to the elderly voter, those in their 80's or 90's. I nearly choke up when I hang up. 

You hear a frail voice and explain why you're calling. They sound tentative. You know if you're lucky, someday you might be 80 or 90 years-old. You ask if they have a way to the polls and explain why you're calling. You thank them for being a good citizen.

You can't be jaded talking with the elderly. You know they've paid their dues and time may be limited. It feels like an honor to talk to them. Of course, it's an honor to talk to anyone.

A campaign office has a buzz this late in the election season. With so many on the phones, so many loud voices, it was even more than a buzz this evening. You pray you can hear the person dialed. Not using headphones, I plugged my ear. Someone just across the table from you is calling from the database as well. You think she's too loud, but you're probably too loud. It feels like the whole room is shouting. 

The food table changes: blueberry muffins, energy bars, water, Pepsi cans beginning to perspire, and bags of Doritos. A heavy-set woman comes in with sandwiches from Subway. She's all smiles. Mostly it's women who notice her come in, men being fewer in number.

I find out later at the end of my time, that we're 150 calls behind Minneapolis. We were calling into St. Paul. 

I tried to say Mike Obermueller without tripping over the syllables. I seemed to need my crib sheet.

The local campaign co-ordinator looks exhausted in her blue jeans. Her name is Hilary; she's always there. She said her parents ask her if she's taking care of herself.

"Now I just laugh," she said.  

"I'm trying to watch Frontline on both the President and former Gov. Romney. But I'm so tired when I leave here." 

"Romney is running for his father," Hilary told me, "to finish his father's goal; he isn't really running for himself. It's very interesting," her voice trailed off. 

The Democrats dialed by Vote Builder are upbeat. They're happy if you're happy. You're happy if they're happy. It's infectious.

I'm "with the program," one said. 

Tomorrow I'll go call again from the Eagan campaign office in Minnesota. If I'm lucky, they  will all be in their 90's. 

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