Saturday, January 26, 2008

Why I'm Not a Great Precinct Captain

This evening, after the amazing, awe inspiring, 2 to 1 landslide win in South Carolina, I started making calls in earnest. My ratio of getting an actual person was wonderful, probably about every third call. Yesterday it was, at best, every tenth call, so this felt great.

And the calls were going pretty well, with most people were either strong Obama supporters or leaning Obama, so asking them to come out and vote was actually fun.

But then I ran into the Clinton supporter who wanted to talk.

The calling script says that when you find a supporter of another candidate, you should thank them for their time, wish them a good day and move quickly onto the next call. The script does NOT instruct us to remind them of the date of the election, or ask them to come out and vote, or in any way offer to be helpful.

So when the person on the other end of the line showed a willingness to talk, but had already expressed support for Clinton, the smart PC would have wished her a good evening and moved on.

But that's not me. I asked if she had any questions about the candidates that I might be helpful with. She said that she felt both Clinton and Obama have very similar positions on all of the important issues. Basically, I agreed. She pointed out that if Obama wins, she will support him, and I agreed that if Clinton won, I'd support her. She said she hated the way the two candidates were going after each other this week. Yup.

In the end, it was not obvious to me (or maybe even to her) why she supported Clinton over Obama. I told her that for me, the difference is that Obama has the ability to appeal directly to a greater portion of the country as a whole, and if we are to get anything done on the issues that we already agreed we care about, we need a president who can unify, rather than divide. We agreed that Clinton can't really do that and Obama can.

But in the end, after spending at least 15 minutes in conversation with this fellow member of my community (who I have never met), I still felt that she was "leaning Clinton."

In that 15 minutes I could have made another 10 calls. Maybe even talked to 3 or 4 actual Obama supporters. But given the same situation, I'd still have the conversation that I had. And that's why I'm not going to be the PC who makes the most calls or knocks on the most doors.

But this election is about bringing this country together. And if Democrats can't take the time to talk with other Democrats about our candidates, how can we expect to bridge the gap with Republicans and Independents when it really counts - when the next president is in office?

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