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10-18-08 I finally volunteer for Barack Obama’s campaign

Posted by Sean on October 19, 2008

Well, I finally did it today. I’ve been saying I was going to, and I’ve been putting it off, for reasons understandable only to me. But today, I bit the bullet and finally did it.

I finally scheduled my sex change operation.

Wait! Scratch that! I mean, I finally volunteered for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

The funny thing about the day’s activities is that I did something I normally don’t like to do: I took a chance on someone – that someone, of course, being Barack Obama.

I was content to do what I’ve done in so many elections in the past: cast my vote. Do My (minimum) Civic Duty. The fact that my horse lost in the last two presidential elections gave a pleasant sort of futility to voting. It allowed me to join the ranks of people who could honestly say, “Don’t blame me! I voted for _____!” I had a gilt-edged invitation and authorization to complain.

And I love to complain.

But now, I’m throwing, not just my money, but my effort and at least some emotional investment behind a candidate who has a damn good chance of winning the presidency. And that scares me.

I’m basically voting for Obama (a) because he’s not a Republican and (b) Ron Paul scares me even more than the Republicans. The United States has gotten a bit scary under the Republicans, quite frankly. They don’t deserve the White House, and for reasons too numerous to list here. This makes my backing of Barack Obama less a reasoned and rational calculation than a biological reaction, similar to the reaction of a person with food poisoning – a reflex, like a gag reflex.

That scares me because I know so little about the man I’m backing. I do know that he’s a one-term Senator from Illinois and that I do not envy him the job that he will, in all probability, be taking up came Jan. 20.

The Republicans have saddled us with a lot of problems, and I doubt that anyone short of Jesus v2.0 will be able to solve a significant portion of them in four years. Anyone taking the presidency now will find himself in the same position as Herbert Hoover in 1929, with more many fundamental and systemic crises than he can deal, with his political capital suddenly shrinking  with and an American public getting more impatient, more desperate and more violent as the crises deepen and widen.

Which is yet another reason I don’t want the Republicans in the Oval Office. Republicans have a funny way of concentrating power in Washington, DC during crises – kind of like a certain Democrat during the Depression, but with jackboots.

The last bit – Obama-isn’t-a-Republican – was the reasoning that was driving me when I opened my mail this week and found a message from MoveOn.org asking for campaign volunteers at Obama’s West Cheyenne campaign office. The first bit – maybe-this-will-come-back-to-haunt-me – didn’t dawn on me until I was nine-tenths of the way to the campaign office.

There’s also the little problem that I’m not a joiner and never was a cheerleader (believe it or not). The thought of giving up my identity for the glory of Fearless Leader has always scared me a bit. And I was walking into the belly of the beast.

The campaign office occupied a narrow, vacant storefront in a small strip mall. Posters of Obama-as-Fearless-Leader were in evidence, but the office itself had a nice bohemian feel to it, with cheap folding tables serving as desks and piles of casually organized papers occupying every horizontal surface. The few volunteers manning it were younger than me, but it felt very laid back. There were no freshly-scrubbed and wild-eyed kids with the joy of the Rev. Moon burning in their hearts, and the volunteer organizer had a t-shirt that said “Alaskans for Obama”, which I thought was a nice touch. I was feeling pretty good about it, until they told me what I would be doing today:

Canvassing neighborhoods.

(Sound effects from Psycho: yeek yeek yeek yeek yeek!)

Canvassing means going door-to-door and gulp talking to people face-to-face. This is a big worry for me because, like any Netizen, my huge, enormous set of net balls shrink to nothing when I actually have to deal with flesh-and-blood human beings.

And they were setting me loose on Las Vegas. I paid little attention to the orientation for the canvassers. My mind was too busy trying to grasp Obama’s impending thirty-point drop in the polls and the rioting crowds howling for his blood… and all because of me.

I shouldn’t have worried. Las Vegas is solidly Democrat, or at least it was in the three neighborhoods they let gave me today. I think I talked to one registered Republican during the whole four hours I was out there, and told me, in essence, to fuck off as soon as told her who I was with.

So my main job was to get the Democrats out to vote. And almost everyone I talked to was yes indeedy going to vote for Obama… going to go out, in fact, in the next few days and vote early for him.

They also paired me up with an expert, Gwen. It was her first time canvassing for a candidate, but not in going door-to-door. She works as a social worker, and her job involves going to client’s houses, knocking on their doors and interviewing them… kinda like what we were doing.

You have no idea how much your morale can be boosted by simply having someone stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you, especially someone who can pick up the ball when you drop it. This Gwen did many times, when I suddenly forgot what I saying in mid-sentence and stood there, pop-eyed, slackjawed and making “abba abba abba” sounds.

I don’t know what to say about the experience itself, especially since it’s late and I just want, after walking the equivalent of several miles today, to fall asleep with my legs knee deep in epsom salts. The people were nice. The weather was beautiful – that perfect neither-hot-nor-cold that Las Legas get about four weeks of each year. We were buttonholed for half an hour by a old Polish woman who grew up under Communism, swore like a sailor and wanted to volunteer for Obama’s campaign despite nearly losing a foot earlier in the year.

I’ll be doing it again next Saturday, and in all probability I’ll be doing it with Gwen again. Tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channel, for an update.

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2 Responses to “10-18-08 I finally volunteer for Barack Obama’s campaign”

  1. Hey congrats on your adventure. Next weekend when you head out, here’s a video that might keep you entertained!

  2. […] 10-18-08 I finally volunteer for Barack Obama’s campaign […]

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