Sunday, October 31, 2004

Getting Out the Word

Bob and I signed up to canvass in Miami this afternoon, and at the appointed hour we showed up at the Kerry-Edwards headquarters in South Miami. To say the office was busy would be an understatement – more like well-oiled chaos – but we got our quick training session in the hallway outside the restrooms. (“Be polite, stand three feet back from the door, if you hear a dog barking don’t go inside the fence, NEVER go inside the house, and if you run into a Bush voter, be polite and be gone.”) We got our packet and off we went to canvass “sporadic” Democratic voters. These were voters who had not voted in recent elections, and we wanted to tell them that they could still vote early, although today was the last day.

The neighborhoods we got were compact lots with homes ranging from very nice to, well, as the realtors would say, “cozy.” The first few knocks got no response (marked them down as NH for Not Home) and they got a door-hanger and some literature in English and Spanish. The next few were “He/she doesn’t live here,” and we said thanks and went on. We had over a hundred homes to call on, and it was a hot afternoon, and we felt slightly daunted by the task.

But we plodded on, saved by the air conditioning in the car and the stash of bottled water Bob had wisely brought along. It wasn’t until about an hour into it that we struck some paydirt. We rang the bell of one house and when the lady answered there was a flash of recognition…we had both taught at the same school in 2001. We exchanged greetings and she assured us that she had already voted for Kerry. That was marked down as a “EV1” meaning Early Voter for Kerry.

The next street over we met up with another EV1, and across the street we met up with some friends of Bob’s. Their lawn was scattered with Kerry-Edwards and Betty Castor for Senate signs, but they were still on the list. After an amiable chat and imploring from all of us to get out the vote, we went to their neighbors, who must have seen us coming because they came out to greet us even before we rang the bell.

The best part was the husband who said he was a Republican but had EV’d for Kerry. He shook his head sadly; George W. Bush didn’t represent his Republican party. That made our day. And what was even better was that after we left and were walking back to my car, we passed his house again. He was out digging in the yard, and he stopped us again. He wanted to know what kind of response we were getting. Well, since we were hitting only Democratic homes, so far we’d been encouraged. He told us what a disappointment the Republicans had become. “They’re not the same anymore, and a lot of people I know feel the same way.” We told him that the best thing he could do was to tell his friends to be sure to vote – to let their disappointment and rage be heard. He nodded in agreement, and Bob and I went back to our car feeling as if there is a change in the wind coming, and it may be coming out of Florida.