This afternoon I started calling West Virginia for Barack Obama. I had read "Big Coal" by Jeff Goodell and felt a special empathy for the people of West Virginia and wanted to share with people why I thought they would be best served by an Obama presidency.
Most of the people I called weren't home so I left several messages. I did speak to one woman who was undecided and said she appreciated hearing from me and having a chance to hear what I had to say. She said she was most concerned about the candidates' principles and their faith.
Then came the call that put a wrench into my calling.
The person I was trying to reach wasn't home, apparently at work, so I told his wife who I was and asked if I might speak to her about the election. She said..."everyone in this family is voting for Clinton"...I said I respected her decision but was interested in the basis for her decision.
She said that she resents being told that she clings to her religion. I listened to how she felt, said I understood her sentiments but asked if I could tell her my understanding of what Barack meant. She kindly allowed me to tell her. I said that I thought that for decades, people did not have an opportunity to vote for their economic well being...she agreed that was true and that neither the Democratic nor the Republican Parties offered economic opportunity. I agreed and said that the only things elections were about were things like guns and religion. Republicans said we'll protect your guns and Democrats said we need more control over guns because of the violence in schools, etc. Republicans stressed religion while Democrats stressed separation of church and state. And these two wedge issues defined the election. And that what I believe Barack was trying to say was that in the voting booth, people had very little choice and those who voted for the Republican candidate were for lack of any other choice, opting to vote for their religious beliefs or their guns. They were choosing between the only things that differentiated the candidates.
I tolde her that Barack Obama had worked through his own church to help people in his community. She said that he only cared about Black people. And I told her that his mother was White and when he was two his father left home and he was brought up by a White mother and I had read somewhere that it was painful to him the first time he experienced the stings of racism. And that he said bringing people together was in his DNA.
I said that he is principled and refused to pander to people on the gasoline tax because the oil companies pay the tax and can gobble up the amount of the tax by raising the price by the amount of the tax.
At this point the woman told me that she has a serious illness which is eventually terminal and that her husband has to drive 1 1/2 hours to his job at the post office and that they spend 1/3 of their income on gasoline. Her husband then has to take care of chores when he comes home because she is immobilized. They have asked for a transfer for her husband to their local town which would cut his commute down to 1/2 hour but have not been able to get anyone to do anything for them.
I felt so sorry to hear how tough things were that I asked her if I could get her the phone numbers of her Senators and Representative. I provided those for her and suggested she call them for help and that that's what they're there for.
We hung up but I continued to check out some things for her. I called the mayor's office to find out about local services and called her back with a couple of more phone numbers for home assistance. She was very nice and was happy to take the information.
She mentioned that her husband had called between the time we had spoken and they are thinking now of voting for Barack Obama.
And I told her that I believe we need more community in this country.
I wished her the best of luck for herself and her family and we said good bye.
Tomorrow I will return to making some more calls to West Virginia.
Thanks so much to everyone who has commented and said so many kind and inspiring things.
Some people suggested we try to help this lady. Some suggested a fund raiser although someone said that they might not appreciate charity.
I still think that checking out local agencies might be a good start for their immediate needs and their elected officials for long term solutions.
Elwior suggested that this diary be sent to the highest official in the Obama campaign that we know to see if the campaign is able to help this lady. I just e-mailed it to the Field Organizer I worked with in the Texas primary to see if the campaign can do anything to provide some assistance.
I'll update this diary if and when I hear back.
Any other suggestions are welcome.
Best of luck on the 13th West Virginia!
IF YOU HAVE TRIED TO CALL W VA TODAY AND ARE UNABLE TO GET PHONE NUMBERS THAT'S BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE CALLED FROM OUT OF STATE THAT THEY RAN OUT OF NUMBERS. I CALLED AN OBAMA LOCAL OFFICE AND THEY'RE IN THE PROCESS OF UPLOADING MORE NUMBERS INTO THE ON LINE PHONE BANKING. PLEASE CHECK BACK FOR MORE AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!