Sunday, November 2, 2008

In Clovis...Wish You Were Here

It was about here this morning that I thought...oh, when will they have the technology available to create an embedded link to smells? Odornet.
Please take a moment to give thanks, dear readers, that the technology is not at my disposal.
If it were, you'd be able to click on The Land of Enchantment above and take in the total experience of Clovis, New Mexico. Part oil field, part smoky breakfast diner, three parts feedlot. Can you conjure it up in your olfactory mind? If so, consider yourself with us in spirit.
It's not Santa Fe.
But it is sweet, and old townish, and semi-rural, and...amazingly...hiding behind a thin Blue veil.
The Obama campaign headquarters is housed in what appears to have been an Italian restaurant in a previous life, located in "historic downtown"... between the pawn shop and the crafters market. The 15-year old named Nico who runs the operation (okay...he's probably 25) is a selfless community organizer with a deep respect for every volunteer who walks in the door...including the 11-year old who wanted to make phone calls tonight.
"Hi, I'm an 11-year old working for Barack Obama. I can't vote, but I can ask you to vote," was his pitch. I think he had waaaay fewer hang up responses than I did with, "Can we count on your support for Senator Obama on Tuesday?" He got, "Is this a prank?" I got, "NO!" (click)
There were four of us from Austin today. One young Austinite, John, drove up three weeks ago and decided to stay until the job was finished. One older volunteer from Austin, Tom, caught a ride with some friends who dropped him off in Clovis while they continued on up the highway to work Portales. Tom is 67. It's his second canvassing weekend in New Mexico in the last few weeks. Another woman volunteering this weekend flew in from Palo Alto, California.
There were a few other local folks stirred into the mix...but I'm not kidding when I tell you our Saturday morning canvassing kick off had 7 people picking up clipboards and addresses and heading for the streets. Five of us were from another state. I was so glad we came.
This dreamy, hope-powered, peace mama was not prepared for canvassing, though.
I was given a map of a 10-block x 12-block area with roughly 50 dots on it, each of which corresponded to a potential Obama supporter. Following the tried and true wisdom of good social psychology, I was to connect with as many of those dots face-to-face, on the doorstep, as I could...and then pin that registered dot down. Are you voting? Who will you support? Can I help you decide?
We canvassers traveled alone. We did not have enough human-power to cluster and share maps.
My shoes were all wrong for the job.
The combination of losing the social aspect of the day and the bad shoes made a quick cut into my enthusiasm.
And, I'd been assigned the country club streets...the yard signs did not bode well for an introvert campaigning for the democrat.
I did see some nice homes. And I met a few very nice people who assured me the signs in the yards of their neighbors were not as fiercely partisan as they seemed. They were right to point out there were actually very few McCain signs out. They seemed to be telling me that being republican and thinking about voting for Obama is not as cool as Colin Powell makes it look.
But I didn't come to New Mexico to talk to people who don't want change.
So, after suitcase-diving for new shoes and drinking a gallon of water and sitting for a quick lunch...we headed back to HQ for our afternoon assignments. I asked for a low income neighborhood.
The late afternoon/early evening found me wandering around alone in flip-flops in semi-industrial areas with confusing street numbers and homes flat-out missing from their numbered spots (I guess that's why they call them mobile) and dogs barking at me from behind every chain-link fence. I was "hugged" affectionately by a boxer big enough to get his paws on my shoulders, chased twice by a chihuahua who seemed to believe he could eat me, and treated to the most interesting doorstep lesson on our electoral process.
And guess what? People in that neighborhood were not all that jazzed about change either. They like Senator Obama but that seems to have much less to do with his policy proposals than it does his ability to make these people feel important to the process.
The day was not dull. Collectively, the little band of Clovis Canvassers for Change hit almost 1300 homes today. The best canvassing days of this election prior to today in Clovis reached 500 homes. Our target tomorrow is 1500! Craziest thing is, we believe we can do it with our tired legs, aching knees, and our blistered feet.
Our fearless leader...not Nico...but the really fearless one, Barack Obama...talked to us (12,000 volunteers nationwide) via conference call at 8 PM tonight. He asked us to stay on the job another 72 hours...to take the ball across the goal line for him.
And that's what we intend to do. Yep...we can.
From Southeastern New Mexico...Peace.

1 comment:

Gay said...

I know you can and wish I was there to give you moral support. What some who read this blog may not know, this is truly out of your comfort zone. Your writting is so good I am sure most think this would be easy for you. When your knees, legs or feet hurt, remember we believe in your efforts because Obama is "change we need" and thank you for your commitment.

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