Now that I can no longer answer Barack Obama campaign honcho David Plouffe's insistent and alluring e-mails with a button-click of "$25 or more" — feeding the kids and paying the (wobbly) mortgage take precedence — I've decided to dive into the frenetic stretch-run world of retail politics by volunteering as an Obama canvasser and precinct captain. My wife, Emelie, has joined me on this adventure into the messy machinations of ground-level democracy with the hope that we'll actually make a difference. Which, for us, means pushing Barack across the finish line and the nation around the corner from almost-certain Constitutional destruction and economic disaster and into a new postmodern cultural neighborhood of bipartisan goodwill, bolstered by widespread financial responsibility and a refreshing, across-the-aisle dismissal of all those pesky right wing wedge issues.
There are signs that we might be on the right side of history this time around. Knocking on doors in my neighborhood last Sunday evening — a precinct that went John Kerry's way last time out — I didn't find too many folks still falling in the "undecided" category. People, at least here in Reno, Nev., where the Dems have always faced and continue to face an uphill electoral battle, seem to have pretty much made up their minds. The sliver of daylight is seen in the way people react when asked who they're voting for. Barack backers are far more effusive and positive in their reaction, sometimes augmenting their answer with comments like, "I like what he's saying." Those on the McCain side of the ledger are almost embarrassed to state their support. Indeed, they sometimes sound eerily like Eeyore: "Oh, well, guess I'm voting for McCain. I've always been a Republican." So I dutifully circle them as a "Definite McCain" even though I harbor doubts that they truly will stand by their man when the booth beckons on Nov. 4. There were even a couple of Rs who are swinging Barack's way. A couple hardcore indies wouldn't say which way they were going — it's none of my business, they barked — and one guy just said, "none of the above." That's Nevada. That's the state's subcutaneous streak of Libertarian pigment showing through. Old West sagebrush-bred habits die hard.
Friday night we get our precinct captain training, then it's back out on the canvass trail. The hardest part is resisting the urge to proselytize on the left's behalf, to just accept those poor Repubs' misguided responses on their face. We're hoping Obama does that job for us.