Panic is an ugly thing. It's even uglier when coupled with pure, unrefined hatred.
Today, someone threatened to shoot my wife.
Our family is a family of die-hard Democrats. Some of my earliest memories are of attending civil rights protests and antiwar rallies with my folks, and helping out on union picket lines by bringing food and water to the people manning the lines. Mrs. Califlander's pedigree is a little more mixed -- her dad has been a staunch Republican most of his life -- but she and her brother have both been active participants and contributers to progressive causes.
Mrs. Califlander was out canvassing in west Las Vegas this morning for Senator Obama. The Las Vegas organization is very well organized and very efficient. She reported in, got her list of homes to visit, and set out on her route. Not surprisingly, a lot of folks weren't at home -- the weather is beautiful this time of year, and other than a little bit of gusty wind, it's a perfect day for being outdoors.
According to her list, one the houses she was to visit was the home of a 74-year-old registered Republican. The campaign, of course, is trying to reach out to everyone, including our red-leaning neighbors. When the man came to the door (a heavy, nearly-opaque metal screen door), she launched into her standard intrduction -- "Hi, my name is ___ ______, and I'm campaigning for Obama. Have you already voted or are you planning on voting on Tuesday?" -- but didn't get a chance to finish.
As soon as she said she was working for Obama, the man told her to "Get out of here before I shoot you." She couldn't see whether the man was actually armed, but he sounded angry and irritated, and she decided not to tempt fate by sticking around.
She finished her rounds uneventfully and reported back in. The campaign workers were very concerned and very solicitous, making sure she was okay and asking if there was anything they could do for her. Mrs. C doesn't scare easily (and fortunately, she didn't have either of our children with her on this particular trip, as she has before), so she was fine.
Submitted for what it's worth: as the McCain campaign sinks further and further into depravity, essentially accusing Democrats of trying to destroy the country and kill us all, it's bound to inspire panic and hatred among the GOP faithful. That's the point, after all: to whip up their base into such a frenzy that they'll be driven to the polls.
The fact that some will also be driven to threats of violence, and perhaps worse, is inevitable, but apparently of no consequence. All that matters to the Republicans is winning.
Oh and a postscript: Mrs. C's dad, the staunch Republican, mailed in his ballot last week in eastern Washington, voting for Mark Mays for Congress, Christine Grigoire for Governor, and Barack Obama for President. After hearing about today's events, he's volunteering to be a poll watcher for the Obama campaign.
Panic is an ugly thing. But it's no match for hope.
UPDATE from Mrs. C: I read all the comments below that the guy shouldn't have made the threat and that I should report it -- you're right, and I will. The comment about how he might have some mental health issues was a really good point.
Thanks for all the nice compliments, but I think everyone out there canvassing is brave. This thing is going to be won on the ground.