I was out canvassing in my home town of Medford, Massachusetts this afternoon, pounding the pavements on behalf of Ed Markey. My partner Jerry was a Haitian guy out on his first time canvassing, and he said he'd learned a lot by the end of the day.
It sure is amazing how many different kinds of people there are. Most of the voters we reached were solidly in our camp. Unsurprisingly; Markey's our Rep already and he's done well by his constituents. His local office is a short walk from my house, and the people there are terrific.
Two sets of voters stood out in my memory.
First were the wonderful folks who came to their doors and stuck around to talk to us about politics and their lives.
The 65-year-old African-American lady worried about her companion's dialysis and the cost of his health care...and who was fulminating with outrage from what she'd discovered over the past fifteen years about how big corporations are destroying our environment. We talked with her for a good fifteen minutes, shook hands repeatedly, and eventually went on our way with a little more buoyancy in our steps.
My partner's old boss, who told us he wished he could live to be two hundred — "so I could keep on voting against those Republicans."
The 91-year-old woman and her 60-something daughter who said, "We're all voting AGAINST Gomez!" The younger woman spoke with passion and eloquence about how awful Republicans were. I said, "you should run for office. I'd vote for you in a heartbeat." Without batting an eyelash she shot back, "Yeah...and you'd regret it inside a week, I'll tell you. 'Why the hell did I vote for that woman,' you'd be asking!' "
And then there were the others.
A family of four, registered Democrats all. The woman said, "Yes, we're Democrats. But we're voting for Gomez." I asked why and she couldn't tell me, beyond saying that, "Markey rubs me the wrong way." I said, "You know if you vote for a Republican, you'll get a Republican." Not very clever, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. Her daughter peeked around the door and said, "He's a Massachusetts Republican!" "Who's going to support Mitch McConnell," I responded — a retort which would have had more impact if she, or her mother, had any idea of who McConnell is. They both looked blankly uncomprehending.
The middle-aged man who told us he was voting "for the other guy." I asked, "why?" and he said, "wait a second" and brought back a Markey brochure featuring a rather unpleasant picture of Gomez, saying, "I'm a photographer. I can tell this image is photoshopped." Then he opened the piece and showed us the picture of Gomez & Romney standing together, and said, "Romney doesn't look this bad in real life, either — and look at this photo of Markey: it's been retouched to make him look nice. Furthermore, I'm voting for Gomez because Markey is going to win." Now it was our turn to look blankly uncomprehending.
And finally, the 29-year-old woman standing on her front porch who said, "Sorry to tell you, but I'm voting for Gomez," and then proceeded to elaborate in response to my inquiry. "He's more in line with my values." I inquired, "What values are important to you?" and she said, "You'll think it's crazy. I'm a gay woman and I'm a Democrat, but Gomez' policies will be better for me financially." My partner and I looked on, dumbstruck.
I finally found my voice. "So....you're choosing personal self-interest over the collective well-being of the Commonwealth and the Nation?"
"That's right. Have a nice day!"
I regret that I only had one face to palm.
Now you know where the title of this diary came from.
I'm not going to be canvassing again this week, but I'll be doing phonebanking on Election day — my new friend Jerry, however, is going to be canvassing again once or twice this coming week. This was his first experience being engaged in American politics, and I think he's hooked. It was good to hit the streets again.
Okay, that's all for now.