Thursday, October 30, 2008

In the Neighborhood

After the 2004 election, when I wandered around in shock, I was looking forward to seeing my neighbors. They are an elderly couple who are life-long democrats and are active in local politics. I figured they would be able to share some words of wisdom with me, help put things in perspective. I was sure that over the course of their voting lives they had lived through disappointment, had shaken off disillusionment.

Finally, the day came that we saw each other in the neighborhood. So, I told them how I had been looking eagerly forward to talking with them in hopes of lifting my spirits. Instead, my neighbor said, "Oh, we voted for Bush. We've never liked Kerry. He's too phony."

Back in the primaries of this current election, I brought the subject up. We all agreed, actually, that neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton thrilled us. I said I wanted Kucinich. They probably thought I was joking.

[This will have to do until I find the whole segment. The Kucinich/Colbert part starts about 3:20]

Ever since Obama became the nominee, I have been trying to find the courage to bring the subject up with my neighbors. I finally did today. My neighbor called to ask if I could bring in their papers and mail while they're away for the weekend. When she said they would be getting back Monday night, it seemed like the perfect moment to bring up the election. I asked if she was planning on voting for Obama. She said no. She said she wasn't voting for McCain, she would probably write in someone, possibly her husband. She said she and her husband couldn't believe that out of all the people in the country, these were the two people they could find to run for president. I asked her why she rejected Obama as a candidate. She used the line that she didn't think he had the experience. I offered the analogy that I didn't have parenting experience when I first gave birth to my daughter, but I have the intelligence, dedication, and compassion to do my best.

I don't think she bought my argument. What should I say? I can have a lovely well-written note waiting for her when she gets back. Will you help me?

Maybe Tom Waits can give you some ideas.


1 comment:

xan said...

Well, in 1968 I had to talk my beloved grandmother out of voting for George Wallace. Wasn't really that much talking mind you; she mentioned that she was contemplating such an act and the look of utter horror on my face was apparently such that she either changed her mind or at least never mentioned the matter again. Now that I am a grandmother myself I strongly doubt that she did it, the thought of my grandsons being ashamed of me in any respect is too much to be borne.

Neighbors of course are a different matter. All I can think of is to just greet them with the biggest smile you can muster and say "Did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine you would live to see such a historic day as this? I never thought my children would see it, and instead by the time they're grown up a black man as president will be all they've ever known. Isn't it wonderful?" and just dance along your way.

Who knows, maybe there's a spark of historian, or a rebel, in them and the glee of Doing Something Completely Different will take hold when they stand there in the booth.

Just saying something is worth it. Every study shows that a personal comment from someone you know has more impact on voting outcomes than anything else.