Monday, November 3, 2008

Let's Be Careful Out There

It's getting real ugly in some parts.

Sign wars

Speaking of pettiness, one tactic that seems quite common from the McCain camp is stealing or defacing Obama signs.

At the Obama campaign office where I was waiting for my canvassing assignment Saturday afternoon, I saw this sign:



Then there's this approach:

Canvassing experience

My wife sent me this link to an essay by a "pretty conservative" guy whose wife made him go canvassing for Obama ("I did... what most middle-aged married men do: what I was told") and who learned something in the process.
It's not about taxes. I'm pretty sure mine are going to go up no matter who is elected.

It's not about foreign policy. I think we'll figure out a way to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan no matter which party controls the White House, mostly because the people who live there don't want us there anymore....

I've learned that this election is about the heart of America. It's about the young people who are losing hope and the old people who have been forgotten. It's about those who have worked all their lives and never fully realized the promise of America, but see that promise for their grandchildren in Barack Obama. The poor see a chance, when they often have few. I saw hope in the eyes and faces in those doorways.

I went canvassing on Saturday myself, and I had a couple of memorable encounters. One was with a twenty-something Latino voter who recently got his citizenship and is thrilled to be taking part in the most important ritual of democracy. "I've been here six years," he beamed, "and this is my first time to vote." He went on for several minutes about how much Obama's message resonates with him; he would have gone on longer if I hadn't excused myself to continue my rounds.

Another experience was not as pleasant. Our marching orders were to speak to individuals on our lists who had been identified as potential Obama supporters, even if McCain paraphernalia were in evidence - after all, a given household may be split in its loyalties or leanings. So as I approached one house with a stern-looking middle-aged man raking leaves in the yard, I didn't let the McCain sign by the driveway deter me. I was looking for a 20-year-old, evidently this guy's son.

He seemed friendly enough, despite the Obama hat and button I was wearing. No, he said, his son wasn't home, but was there something I'd like to leave for him?

"Yes, if you don't mind, I have some literature for him from the Obama campaign that I'd like to -"

"I don't want it." His expression, his posture, his whole attitude changed at the mention of Obama's name.

"He doesn't want it?" I had to ask.

"He might. I don't. If you want him to have that," he said, looking at the packet in my hand as if he feared catching a disease from it, "you'll have to give it to him yourself." I think he may have had a slight pang of conscience, as he added in a somewhat less assertive tone, "he gets off work about 4."

I hope that if some McCain canvasser showed up at my door and asked me to give his literature to my daughter, I would take it and faithfully deliver it even though I disagree with just about everything I think the GOP stands for. Of course I can't say what I would do in ay hypothetical situation - I'll find out when and if such a scenario arises - but I think I'd do the right thing, especially if I had explicitly offered to take a message for her.

This seems somehow typical of the pettiness I see from way too many McCain supporters. At least he wasn't like the schoolteacher and Republican delegate in Michigan who refused Halloween candy to children whose parents support Obama:

Hey lady, it's pretty bad when even Fox is calling you on your outrageous behavior.