A pair of middle-aged women showed up at my door the other night. They had clipboards and they were wearing blue buttons. They didn’t have to say it, but they did anyway: “We’re talking to people about voting for Barack Obama,” she said, in the passive, indirect way that a therapist would tell you to talk to somebody who disagreed with you.
An aside: I live on the outskirts of one of Pittsburgh’s wealthiest suburbs. Many of my friends grew up here, and they all agree that a democrat in this area is extremely rare.
My first instinct is to try to get rid of them. I don’t want to have a conversation with strangers about something as personal and potentially explosive as politics. Someone I used to know went door-to-door as a child, for religious reasons. She said that the only guaranteed way to get rid of their particular branch of the big X was to say you’re an atheist. Because their church so adamantly rejected independent thought, a person who didn’t believe in God was the biggest threat to an impressionable child’s supple mind.
I admire these two ladies for what they were doing. I sure couldn’t do it, and I’ve tried. My friend Becky ran for Magistrate one year, and all my ex and I had to do, as part of her street team, was go up to peoples’ homes and knock on their doors and ask them to vote for Magistrate, and then ask them to vote for Becky, who happened to be the only girl on the ticket. It was easy. We even had pink pens to give out.
Becky didn’t really have a chance, as we discovered later. The guy who won was a local cop for a long, long time and basically already knew the whole town. She might as well have been running against everybody’s cousin.
So I understood how hard it was for them to come up to the front door of somebody with an undermowed lawn and a talking Darth Vader on his car’s dashboard and ask him to vote for Barack Obama. Maybe they thought it was a slam dunk. The Apple sticker on my car probably got their hopes up.
“Do you know who you’re voting for?”
The first thing I did was apologize.
“I’m sorry. Yes, I do.”
“Oh?” they said, pencils raised.
“Probably Bob Barr?”
Long, pregnant pause.
“Well,” said the leader. “We’ll be sure to write that one down.”
I couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic. I’m still not sure. She made no move to write anything at all. Did she think I was making a name up?
“Well, I’m a Libertarian,” I said, adding a period to the end of the conversation.
“And you’re voting with your party,” she said, nodding. “Thanks for your time!”
“Thank you, and uh, well, um, good luck,” I said, and closed the door. Carriage return.
I don’t know if I would have gotten an argument if I had said I was a Republican, or if they would have tried to sway an admitted independent. Most folks don’t really know what to do with a Libertarian, because we probably agree with a lot of the things they believe, but with different priorities and different reasons.
It gave me an idea, though. Maybe the quickest way to get rid of door-to-door campaigners is to say you’re a Libertarian?