Canvassers

October 30, 2008 | By | 28 Replies More

Yesterday I needed to get out the door earlier than usual to get to work.  We have a big order due next Monday and a couple extra hours a day will see it done with time to spare.  But I do need that extra time and I don’t really want to work till seven or eight at night.  Anyway, I’m rushing about trying to get ready and there’s a knock on the door.

Canvassers.

“Yeah?”

“We’re with the McCain-Pallin campaign—”

“Oh.  Sorry, we’re voting for Obama.”

They were young, I’d say early twenties.  She held the clipboard (which seems unusual, I think, can’t be really sure, but I see more men holding the clipboard than women, it’s like control of the tv remote in a way) and both were reasonably attractive.

Both their faces showed their disappointment.

“Is there any way we could dissuade you?” she asked.

I hesitated.  Now, this isn’t fair, but I have come to never expect good language skills from Republicans.  Sorry, I know that’s a blanket statement, but it’s true—“Can we talk you out of it” is more common than the use of the word “dissuade” among the Right.  I think it has to do with the presumption of choice the word implies, which the Right has been having serious problems with the last couple decades.

In my moment of hesitation, he pounced.

“You realize Obama is inexperienced and has ties to Liberal—”

I held up my hand and he actually shut up.

“You just lost me,” I said.

“Why?”

“Because you led with an attack on Obama.  That doesn’t work.  You need to tell me what McCain would do differently than his predecessor.  You don’t start off by telling me what a bad idea it is to vote for an unknown when the known is so shitty.”

They both blinked.  I think at the last word I used.

‘Okay, then—” he began again, gamely.

“No, it’s too late.  I knew four years ago I wouldn’t vote for a Republican this time.”

“That’s kind of short-sighted,” he said.

“Looking ahead four years is short-sighted.”

“Well, look what your choices are now.  Did you know four years ago someone with ties to domestic terrorists would be running as the Democratic nominee?”

“See, there you go again.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Obama.  We’ve been talking here now for over a minute or so and you haven’t told me one positive thing about McCain.”

“He’ll cut taxes,” she said.

“No he won’t.  He’ll delay them.  How do you think the deficit Bush has run up will be paid off?  Somewhere, somehow, it will come from taxes, but both of them will wait till they’re out of office and it’s someone else’s problem.”

“With lower taxes the economy will grow.”

“Taxes were higher under Clinton and the economy grew faster and was more stable.  You’re not making points on taxes.  Try something else.”

“McCain won’t negotiate with states that sponsor terrorism.”  This from him.

“Then he’s an idiot and we’ll pay for it.  Next?”

“You must be a hardcore liberal,” he said.

“Did you vote in the last election?”

“Sure.”

“That’s a liberal idea, universal sufferage.”  I looked at her.  “Do you know when women got the vote in this country?”

She blinked.  “The vote has always been ours…”

“1920.  Before that it was thought women were too stupid to vote.  Do you know when blacks were allowed to vote in this country?”

She looked uncertain.

“It started in 1964, with the Voting Rights Act.  Liberal idea.  There are probably still some counties where the local white bigots keep blacks from voting.  Like, maybe, Florida in 2000?”

He was frowning.  “Thank you for your time, we should—”

I still addressed her.  “Are you married?”

“No.”

“Planning to be?”

“Someday…”

“Imagine you’re married to this guy and tells you how to vote or what books to read or who to talk to.  Would you want to be able to divorce him if it got bad enough?”

“I don’t—”

“Think about it.  Because the problem with the Republican Party right now is this thing called the Religious Right and among other things they’d certainly like to take away your right to divorce an asshole—which is a liberal idea.”

“Thank you—” he said again.

“Next time you bash liberals, read a history book.  Everything that makes this country a nice place to live was originally a liberal idea.  Social Security is a liberal idea.  Unemployment insurance is a liberal idea.  Open access to courts is a liberal idea. The forty-hour work week, liberal idea.  Child labor laws, liberal idea.  Both of which, by the way, the conservatives of the day thought would destroy the economy.  Public education is a liberal idea.  Public libraries, liberal idea.  Laws against monopolies, liberal idea. The list goes on.  All I hear from the Rush Limbaugh crowd is how all these liberal ideas have destroyed the country or are destroying the country, but the fact that he can shoot his fat mouth off on a public medium is itself a liberal idea.  Look it up, it’s called the First Amendment.”

“There’s no need to get angry,” she said.

“Really?  You’re canvassing for a politician who wants to run this country according to some notion of free enterprise which has resulted in a gigantic financial meltdown, appoint a couple of supreme court justices that will vote to take your personal choice away, and probably continue the policy of military internment of civilians without charge.  The Republicans have gutted our educational system to such an extent that you came out of college not knowing when women got the right to vote and I’m not supposed to be angry?  Instead of telling me how good McCain is, you just want to accuse his opponent of hanging around with someone who was connected to a radical group that was gone before you were born, a group that was pissed at the United States because it wouldn’t stop bombing babies in thatch-roofed villages.  And now we’re back at it again in another part of the world, all because the turnip in the White House now thought it would be a good idea to have soldiers in the geographic neighborhood where a bunch of Islamic Mafiosi are hiding and maybe if we’re lucky a bomb might fall on them.  Of course, their actual hiding place is a thousand miles away from where we invaded, but it’s only an inch or so on the globe he’s got in the oval office. I’m pissed because the party you’re working for thinks being tough is a viable substitute for using your brains and then turns around and telling us we’re all gonna do fine because taxes will soon be gone and everyone will have a job!  Because everybody knows taxes are bad for business!  But so is shipping jobs out of the country and allowing corporations to hide their profits in off-shore accounts.  Oh, and by the way, since Government is really the problem, we’re gonna spend as much as we can in order to bankrupt it, so there won’t be any government in a few years for lack of money.  Which means Exxon Mobile will be writing legislation from now on and KBR will be billing us privately for maintaining infrastructure, ADM will be policing itself to guarantee food safety, and after we give all our money to them AIG will take over for the Treasury.  I’m not supposed to be angry?  You two knock on my door to try to convince me to vote for someone that you can’t think of single good thing to say about.  All you can do is try to scare me about a young black man and you don’t even know the history of voting rights in this country.  I’m angry because you swallowed all that rightwing crap without a second look and think because some 72-year-old white man who got shot down because he was bad pilot in a war you probably don’t even know the history of is qualified to lead me into a future he thinks will look like 1956!  So no, I guess I shouldn’t get upset.  I’m late for work and you have just given me the final justification for voting for Obama.  Have a nice day!”

I slammed the door then.

It probably wasn’t quite as smooth as that, but I was gratified by the look of utter dumbfoundedness on their faces.  I watched out the window afterward and saw them actually leave the neighborhood.

Probably didn’t do them a bit of good, but I felt a whole lot better.

Republicans.  Yeesh!

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Category: American Culture, Civil Rights, Communication, Culture, Current Events, Economy, Education, History, ignorance, Language, Politics, The Middle East, War

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

Comments (28)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Joe: You are unfairly painting all "liberals" as simplistic and identical regarding their attitude toward government size and spending. I support spending tax money only on government programs that clearly work well, by benefiting the public at large. I am not for spending for the sake of spending, which your comment implies.

    So, yes, I support tax money being spent on libraries, roads, and the amount of military spending that we really need to defend the country. There are numerous programs that should not, in my opinion, be supported by tax dollars.

    I'm for wise and frugal spending of tax dollars, where an important objective won't be accomplished in the absence of that government spending. How does that differ significantly from your attitude as a libertarian?

  2. Joe: the simple answer to your question is this—no one has yet figured out how to provide the services government provides and make it smaller to match the notions of what a "reasonably sized" government ought to be. Shrink the size of government, shrink services. It's that simple. Now, many libertarians (I won't speak for you) seem to think people can get along without many of those "services" and they occasionally mock those of us who don't seem able to. But that's not a valid argument, being as how those people still want those services.

    Now just to show that I'm not being narrow in my view, let me offer this example. A few years back a tsunami swamped Sri Lanka. A few days later, a United States Naval Task Force sailed into harbor there and immediately began making clean water for tens of thousands of displaced people. (They did other things, too, but just imagine the ability to do that one thing for a moment…)

    You can't do that with a small government. Now if you want to suggest that we maybe shouldn't do that sort of thing, that's a different argument, but we are here humanitarians, despite certain recent examples to contrary, and we do have need of a large, complex, and powerful military force, and not just to kill people. So. You can do the good thing or you can shrink the government. Not both.

    Personally, I think all the kvetching about the size of the government is pretty much bullshit. Our government costs less as a percentage of GDP than many other developed nations and more than a few developing nations. Given the road system, the water system, the communications system, the legal system, the educational system, the park system, the FDA, the EPA, the Conservation departments, the police departments, the licensing bureaus, the patent bureau, NASA, NOA, NEA, NEH, FAA, not to mention the above-cited military apparatus, and all the state and local agencies affiliated with those systems, and the fact that, in spite of the last 8 years we've suffered an administration that seemed at times willfully bent on breaking all those systems, they all work pretty much the way they're supposed to, I think we get a bargain. Of course, anyone can find one or two examples of something screwed up that doesn't work right—like the current SEC (which suffered huge losses in field agents as well as interference from the White House)—but I don't think that justifies condemning the whole damn thing.

    And I rather like all those services.

    Now Clinton balanced the budget—no mean feat—and managed to increase certain services, so it's not impossible to have some efficiency as well as a government large enough to do all the things many people want.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    I'm totally with Mark on this one. We should ALL be mad as hell about what the "conservatives" have done to this country. The damage they have caused will take at least a generation to fix, if it can be fixed at all. Indeed, they have entirely redefined the word "conservative" to mean the opposite of what it once meant. Now, the word equates to a radical restructuring of America's democracy (torture, warrantless wiretaps, extrajudicial imprisonment, etc.), its financial structure (75% of Bush's tax cuts went to the wealthiest 1% of the population), its foreign policy (unilateralism, gunboat diplomacy, a "fire, aim, ready" mentality) and much more. And the biggest problem McCain/Palin can identify is that Obama will raise rich peoples' taxes. Sheesh.

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