August 23, 2012

Boy, Did I Pick the Wrong Week to Break Up with Politics

On Monday, I posted a Dear John letter to the Presidential election, as I was done with their nonsense. I wrote the post late last week (before the whole Missouri Akin "legitimate rape" fiasco), and scheduled it to publish on Monday, one day after Todd Akin became a household word.  You can read that post here.

Like most decent human beings, I was stunned and disgusted by the words I heard come out of that man's mouth. It made me embarrassed to say I live in Missouri, lest others think that my friends and family think the same way Akin does (though I know people who feel the way he does about outlawing abortions).

His initial apology wasn't enough for me, and I decided that I had to act to make sure that he doesn't become Missouri's next Senator, realizing that there are just enough folks in this  area who agree with the Congressman. That realization was proven to be correct on Tuesday morning, when I volunteered at our county's Democratic Party office to make phone calls for Senator Claire McCaskill.

The office is in a strip mall. Folding tables and chairs lined one wall. Other than a front desk/reception area, the office was pretty stark. The front windows display some candidates' political signs; and there are handmade inspirational posters on the walls containing slogans like "Be the phone!".

In the office, there was Will, the office manager. He was well-dressed in a casual Friday sort of way. At 22 years of age, he had strong opinions on the issues and a firm commitment to encourage voters in our county to select candidates on the Democratic ticket.

I received a few minutes of training. All calls were made from cheap cell phones. I was to dial a "hub" number and log into the system. At that point, the hubcaller dialed the phone numbers of registered voters. While the system was dialing numbers, I was forced to listen to really crappy music that wasn't even up to Muzak standards. When the system beeped, then I knew a live person was on the other end of phone, and I'd launch into my spiel.

I was only one of two volunteers. My calling partner was Jo, a woman about my age who was outraged about Akin's remarks, and was really enthusiastic on the phone. As I listened to her calls (she had as many hangups as I did, I think), she rarely deviated from the printed script unless she got a positive response - then her end of the conversation consisted of "Wonderful!", "That's great!", or another remark that signaled her delight. She was not a rookie, and must have had a competitive streak because she was keeping a running tally of her call results by placing a series of marks on a piece of scratch paper.

It's a good thing I can handle rejection - I got the phone slammed in my ear many times. Despite what Akin said, some folks I called (who actually talked to me) were still not going to vote for McCaskill - "I hate her", "She voted for Obamacare", and "Hell no!" were a few responses I received. A few said they wouldn't vote for either candidate, and there were even a few who were still undecided. One older lady screamed "That's none of your business!" before hanging up on me.

I thought the beginning of the script sounded a bit contrived (and it reminded me of the tag line of a local news channel); I skipped that part and got down to the "could we count on  your support of Claire McCaskill?" I'd say that 90% of the positive responses I got mentioned something about Akin's comments, and women with positive responses always mentioned that Akin's comments made them more committed to voting for his opponent.

Jo and I made calls for two hours before feeling the agony of defeat. Democrats are few and far between in this neck of the woods. I was asked to return to the office to make more calls, so I guess my improvisation didn't ruffle young Will's feathers.

Early Tuesday evening, turnabout was fair play when I received a call from a PAC (Political Action Committee). I listened and responded and told the guy when he was lying to me (he said I could). I even corrected the caller's pronunciation of words when necessary. He kept saying "fiascal" conservative when I'm sure he meant "fiscal", though this particular race IS a fiasco, so it probably worked just fine his way.

I did not attend last night's "Woman to Woman" call campaign which involved calling and talking about women's issues. I think that could have made for some interesting conversations, had the lady of the house been interested in discussing the issues.

So I guess politics and I are again an item. Hopeless romantic that I am, I know I'll be planning my activities around the schedules of both the Republican and Democratic conventions, and I will strive to listen to both sides even though I lean closer to the Democratic ideals. When the Presidential debates are on, I'll be as excited as a pre-teen at a Justin Bieber concert, though I'm sure I won't giggle, unless it's in that uncomfortable "I can't believe he just said that" sort of way.

And if the opposition party calls during my Democratic lovefest, I'll get to hang up on them...after all, turnabout IS fair play.

3 comments:

  1. I am downright proud of you! Don't bail; stick with it. Use your schpeel not the script.

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  2. I guess politics wanted you back! Good for you for fighting the good fight!

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  3. good for you. even tho I can't stomach watching their conventions. I can't believe someone would still vote for that puke.

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