October 31, 2008

Man, democracy is hard!--Part 2

Today, I spent a few hours "phone banking" for Senate Candidate Andrew Rice. What an interesting experience, but not easy. Calling around Oklahoma to registered Democrats, and in my case, mostly older women. First actual person I spoke to hung up on me immediately. That didn't exactly fill me with glee.

I am sympathetic, of course. I really don't like the constant barrage of phone calls. With that in mind, I did what I could to be very brief, and very, very, very polite. Out of each page of numbers (guessing about 10 per page) I seemed to average a hangup per page. Or, at least, a rejection. Those were kind of funny. Like the one who told me that she "didn't do stuff like that on the phone." What? Answer a question? Or the one call where the husband answered, listened to my spiel of who I was and why I was calling, turned me over to his wife, who listened to who I was and why I was calling, and then said, "No thank you!" (rather rudely) and hung up. I thought, "exactly who did you think I was?"

But there were several others that were quite interesting. Several wanted to chat a little, and I suspect they might have been a little lonely. One was a 91 year old man who told me he had voted since he was 21. He couldn't hear very well, but was quite nice. I had a few Rice supporters which made the calling a lot easier.

But then there were those who really hadn't thought about the Senate race at all. Really undecided. I then remember just how weird that is for me. I am rarely undecided! :) And, as everyone on the blog knows, I am a pretty active political watcher. I read widely and keep up with the issues. I know who the major players are, and even some of the minor ones. (Which, btw, made the Mike Gravel campaign all that more puzzling!) So when I meet undecided voters, I am just puzzled. Reminds me of the hilarious David Sedaris bit on undecided voters:
"To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked."

I am glad I put in a little time, and will hope that Rice wins. But it was not easy, and I have a lot of compassion for those who do that kind of calling for a living.

Anyway. Happy Halloween, and Happy Democracy. I hope, anyway.


steves said...

Someone on my group blog posted the undecided quote. My take was that to some people, the "dinner choice" was more like:

"Do you want the platter of shit or the platter of vomit?" or "The chicken is canned chicken that may be expired."

I am not suggesting that Obama is either, but just that there are some intelligent people that have issues with both candidates.

Streak said...

Ok Steve. Not sure what to say.

steves said...

My point was that it depends on your perspective. I can understand the enthusiasm for Obama, especially after what has been happening. I have a harder time understanding enthusiasm for McCain, but I am sure it is there. There are plenty that aren't enthusiastic about either candidate and have been having a hard time making a decision.

Streak said...

I understand, but I guess I heard it as something approaching "better of two evils" and in this particular election, that doesn't seem operable.

leighton said...

Yeah, I can't say I have a lot of sympathy for undecided voters. These issues have been around for enough months (and years) that I have to wonder what the holdup is in figuring out what their priorities are.

A vote isn't a carte blanche metaphysical endorsement of everything a candidate is, stands for, has ever done, and has ever promised to do. What it is may depend from voter to voter--it might be a statement of who they think is the best candidate by whatever metrics they favor, it might be a down vote on a different candidate, it might be a referendum on the candidates' platforms, etc. It's true that which of these ought to take priority in any given election is a complicated question, but this close to the deadline is a very bad time to still be confused.

I have a little understanding for people who are by nature apolitical, thoughtful about other, different things, and just haven't thought this election through yet. It makes me cringe because the stakes are so high, but I can sort of understand. But I'm not convinced that there is anyone who is thoughtful specifically about politics who is undecided at this point in the election.

defintely not ubub, probably someone else said...

Have you ever HAD shit with broken glass in it? How can you criticize something you have not tried? Shouldn't we at least try four more years of the current Republican policies before criticizing them?

You sir, are close-minded, probably foreign, and a member of a socialist sleeper cell. Why I bet you don't even speak English!

Streak said...

I do feel a little sleepy, now that you mention it.

steves said...

I don't have a lot of sympathy for a person that says they don't have enough information or that they "don't know Obama." Once you remove campaign rhetoric and ads, there is still a wealth of information on the candidates.

I will say that I had a harder time making a decision this time. I certainly wasn't lazy, but rather had some major issues with the policy platforms of both the candidates. The difficulty has always been to prioritize things and decide what I am willing to ignore and what is important. Every once in a while, a candidate will run that I agree with almost 100%. That makes it easy. Unfortunately, this is not one of those times.

FWIW, I already voted absentee, so I already decided.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Due to McCain that has emerged over the last couple years, the republican performance over the last 8 years, and the campaign that has been run in '08 I have had no problem voting "not-McCain". Obama's stand on the war and his public presence make him very appealing to me. However, I have had problems in discussions with repub friends when we get into the details (what details there are) of policies he is and likely will promote, e.g. healthcare. I also have been disgusted with the incredible amount of money both candidates have taken from the financial services industry right at a time that those services are facing financial disaster and wanting federal help. Forget Ayers and Keating, I'd like the candidates to explain the millions from the cozy association with the banks and investment firms, including fanny and freddy.

Anyway, all that to say the decision was easy but not necessarily enthusiastic. I don't thing we're doing anyone a favor by electing them this time- the mess they have to clean up is likely to be a political nightmare.


Streak said...

Fair enough, BB.

Bootleg Blogger said...

I guess the point is back to your title to the thread, "Man, democracy is hard!":-).


Streak said...

Yeah, that is a good point. Democracy and sausage, right?

For me, the election is simple, not because I think Obama is some perfect candidate or will be some perfect President, but because he represents the very best chance to improve us in a couple of areas. Not all areas, but a couple. I have hopes that he will help us with race relations, and think he already has (though mcCain and Palin seem hell-bent on undoing all of that). I think he can help us be better at reaching across political lines as well. And ultimately, I think he will reintroduce "smart" to the government process.

I don't expect him to heal the sick or remove the issue of influence in government. I just want him to make us smarter and perhaps just a little better.

steves said...

I can understand enthusiastic support for Obama. I may not agree with all of his policies, but that is just my opinion. I can't fault his logic or integrity.