Tomorrow I travel home after meeting up with a friend to see the NFL Hall of Fame. This fellowship has been a great experience, enjoyable, educational, and rewarding. It has also taught me community organizing is not my thing. Walking up to strangers on the street and seeing if they’re registered to vote or asking people I’ve never met to give the campaign money, food, desks, or anything really is not my strongest suit. Another reason is because I hate calling people over the phone. Over the course of 6 weeks I’ve made at least 3,000 phone calls.
Going into these calls I expected to have a negative reaction, some to be misinformed (religion, family, race, etc.), and others to be apathetic. I did not expect for people to cling to the falsities and slander about Obama that has been circulated throughout the nation as steadfastly as they did. Even after explaining all the evidence as to why such absurd rumors are infallibly wrong, too many remained loyal to their erroneous mind-set. I couldn’t help but be reminded of a quote from Martin Sheen’s (I will always know him as President Bartlett, except for his small role in The Departed) commencement address to the Notre Dame Class of 2008.
Arrogance is ignorance matured.
Every one of my disappointing phone conversations that ended with something similar to, “I don’t vote for Muslims,” just added heaping amounts of validity to this statement.
Below are some of the more memorable, sometimes comical conversations we had with residents of southeast Ohio. Many were shared with me by other organizing fellows. The rest I experienced myself. The extremely threatening, racist, profane-ridden, obnoxious voice mail left on a fellow’s cell phone has been omitted from this list.
He’s a Muslim.
You didn’t like his pastor though.
That anti-American guy, no.
But Muslims don’t have pastors.
Yah, but his middle name’s Hussein.
Barack Obama has close ties to Iran.
Because his father was from Kenya.
They’re two separate countries.
They’re close to each other.
Kenya’s on another continent.
They’re both over there.
Obama’s mother was a communist and Obama wants to change the national anthem to “I’d like to Teach the World to Sing”. (Sidenote: I actually like that song)
I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. Click.
He chose his Muslim name.
He’s going to start doing drugs in the White House.
I’m voting for Hillary Clinton.
She’s not running anymore. It’s Barack Obama.
Who’s he [Obama] running against.
Then I’ll vote for him [McCain].Click.
John McCain you dumb ass.
I’m not voting for that bastard [Obama].
He [Obama] wants all of us to speak Spanish.
I wouldn’t vote for Obama if he was the only black guy running. (I believe this person meant, if Obama were the only person running for president, he wouldn’t vote for him because he was black.)
Do you know who you’ll be voting for in November?
Well she’s not running anymore.
Who is it then?
Barack Obama and John McCain.
Who’s the democrat and republican?
Barack Obama’s the democrat and John McCain is the Republican.
Then I’m voting for Obama.
Roughly paraphrased conversation that lasted about 50 minutes:
I have two kids, I’m a single mom with a job and my Medicaid and welfare benefits are getting cut. I can’t even bring them [her kids] to a doctor.
Well Senator Obama as President would push for… (Went on to explain the policies that applied to her).
Well I plan on voting for McCain.
Might I ask why?
Because he has more experience.
I gave a counter viewpoint that experience doesn’t necessarily make someone a good leader for 5 minutes.
Well I still think he’ll be a good leader because he has more experience.
Ok that’s understandable. But even if McCain’s experience will make him better, he’ll just be better at making policies that make you worse off.
He’ll still be a better president.
(I guess not everyone votes by their wallet.)