Don’t stop engaging. There really are still undecided voters out there. I just met one.

undecided

I went out canvassing yesterday. I wasn’t scheduled to work a shift, but I had a few hours free, as the kids were otherwise engaged, so I decided to drop by the local Clinton campaign office and see what I could do to help. And, as there was another guy there who wanted to go out and canvass, but didn’t have a partner, I said I’d go with him, instead of heading into the basement to eat candy and make phone calls. So me and this stranger – a guy who had just recently moved back to the area from New York – got in his pickup truck and headed to the far end of Grove street, where we spent the next two and a half hours walking through the neighborhood, knocking on doors of those thought to be Clinton supporters, and asking them if they know where to vote on Tuesday, while reinforcing just how imperative it is that they cast their ballots, seeing as how Michigan is somehow now a swing state. Between the two of us, we probably knocked on about 80 doors and talked with about two dozen people… Of those, just one was still undecided.

I can’t remember what street she lived on. I think it may have been Outer Lane Drive… By that point in the evening, I’d probably already talked with about ten people, all of whom were enthusiastic Clinton supporters. We’d chat about how important the election was, and I’d remind them where they had to go and vote on Tuesday. If nothing else, I think it helped my anxiety to just spend some time outside, talking with strangers, who, like me, seemed to understand what was at stake. So, when I knocked on this door on Outer Lane Drive, and I saw a woman of about my age getting up from her couch to come over and talk with me, I kind of had in my mind how our discussion would go. But, as it turned out, things didn’t go as I’d expected. After a few words of introduction, she told me that she was still undecided. And it was clear to me that she was really struggling with it. She said, as things stood at that moment, that she thought she’d probably be voting for Trump, but you could hear that she didn’t feel good about it. And, as she made it clear that she’d be happy to talk with me about it, I just tucked my clipboard under my arm, and we started chatting. It was a lovely little moment, just standing there on her porch, in the autumn sun, the Lion’s game playing in the background, talking about what this election means to both of us and our families. And it stuck me, as I was standing there, how rare this kind of interaction is this election cycle. She didn’t come at me with a comment about “crooked” Hillary’s e-mail server. And I didn’t respond by calling Donald Trump a “pussy grabbing” conman. We just talked about our families, and everything else kind of flowed naturally from that.

She told me that she had a disabled son, and that she and her husband received government assistance. Given that, and the things she’d heard Trump say, she said, she knew she probably shouldn’t be voting for him. But, she said, she was desperate for change. She and her husband, she told me, haven’t been able to find jobs in years that paid more than $9 a hour, and, if all Hillary was offering was a continuation of what they’d seen under Obama, she said, she didn’t feel like she could support her. I should add that this woman wasn’t angry. She wasn’t defensive, like some other Trump supporters that I’d had the occasion to speak with in the past. She didn’t appear to be a racist. She didn’t seem to think that Hillary was evil. She just wanted a better life for her and her family, and she wasn’t convinced that Hillary could make that happen. And I could totally understand where she was coming from. She knew Trump would be a gamble, but, from her perspective, things couldn’t get much worse.

While I mentioned a few things, like Obama having bailed out the auto industry over the objections of Trump and other Republicans, for the most part I just listened. In time, as our conversation unfolded, we started talking about our young daughters, which led to a discussion about Trump’s treatment of women. She couldn’t deny that it bothered her. She said, given what Trump has said about women, it wouldn’t be easy for her to vote for him. But, again, she went back to the fact that, at least in her eyes, the Democrats had failed her. I thought about mentioning the fact that Obama, over the past eight years, essentially had his hands tied by a Republican Congress, but I decided that it was too abstract. Instead, I mentioned something that Bernie Sanders had said a few weeks ago when he came through Ann Arbor. He said, I told her, that our first job has to be keeping Donald Trump out of the White House, and electing Clinton president. Then, on November 9, we have to start organizing, not only to help her push her agenda, including her ambitious jobs plan, through the Republican Congress, but also to push her to be more aggressive when it comes to proposing legislation that might help the working families of America. And that seemed to resonate with her. Judging from the look on her face, and what she said to me afterward, it seemed like a compromise that she could live with.

I don’t know if she’ll follow through, but, by the end of our conversation, she was saying that she’d likely be voting for Hillary come Tuesday morning.

Like I said, I don’t know if she’ll actually do it, but I liked the fact that I could at least have a thoughtful conversation with someone contemplating a vote for Trump, and make some headway, and I wanted to share this story in hopes that it might encourage one or two of you to try talking with a Trump supporter tonight, wherever you might be, on the off chance that one of them might also be willing to take the time and talk. I’ve got to think this woman that I met yesterday isn’t the only reluctant Trump supporter out there who’s just looking for reason to support Clinton. There are good people out there, I’m convinced, who know that Trump is the wrong man for our country, but will end up voting for him just because they desperately want things to get better for their families. They just need someone to hear them out, and help them find a way to cast their vote for Hillary. So don’t give up. I know we only have a few more hours, but don’t give up until the very end. Every vote is going to count, and it’s just too important to stop. So please keep at it, OK?

I don’t know if I’ll actually do it, but, with everything I said above in mind, I’m thinking that I might just go down to my local polling place tomorrow morning, set up a couple of chairs in the parking lot outside, and encourage people to sit down and talk with me for a few minutes before going in to vote. I mean, what could it possibly hurt to just make it known that, if people want to talk before going in to cast their ballots, I’m willing to listen, right?

[The image above must have been taken by accident as I was checking my phone while canvassing yesterday. Those are my glasses on the bottom right… It was a beautiful day.]

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12 Comments

  1. Posted November 7, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Amidst all the vitriol, it’s always so nice to just have a genuine moment with another human being.

  2. Posted November 7, 2016 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    I had a similar experience doing GOTV last week.

  3. Erin O'Leary
    Posted November 7, 2016 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Awesome!! Best news I have heard all day!! Thanks for all your hard work these past several days!!

  4. Renee Willoughby
    Posted November 7, 2016 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    That is awesome, and I think your idea of setting some chairs and chatting with people before they vote is lovely.

  5. Posted November 7, 2016 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know that I’ll be able to do the chair thing, as I think I’ll be canvassing most of the day, but, if I’ve got some time, I may try it out. I really like the idea.

  6. Maria Huffman
    Posted November 7, 2016 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    That was a very nice post. Thank you for your effort and your communicating it.

  7. Posted November 7, 2016 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I feel like I should mention that, while it’s true that I’ve volunteered a few days for the campaign, in the whole scheme of things, I haven’t done much. I mean, there are people who are literally spending every waking hour to ensure that Clinton wins Michigan and keeps Trump out of the White House. I just put in a few hours here and there, and posted a few stories to the web in hopes that they might inspire others to get more involved. In the whole scheme of things, it wasn’t that much. And I hope it doesn’t come across as though I feel that my contribution was more significant that it was.

  8. Loser Larson
    Posted November 7, 2016 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Glenn Beck has changed:

    http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/7/13556876/glenn-beck-obama-trump

    ““I did a lot of freaking out about Barack Obama.” But, he said, “Obama made me a better man.” He regrets calling the President a racist and counts himself a Black Lives Matter supporter. “There are things unique to the African-American experience that I cannot relate to,” he said. “I had to listen to them.””

    Even if it is all bullshit, it is interesting.

  9. Posted November 8, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I had my first “Get Off My Porch” today. Otherwise canvassing went really well. Lots of positive energy on the streets of Ypsi.

  10. iRobert
    Posted November 8, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Whenever I encounter one of those “Get Off My Porch” folks, I make sure to note the address, and add it to the list I have been building and sharing with all the worst door-to-door scam operations. I think I’m making the world a better place by bring them together. I’m a uniter, not a divider.

  11. Citywatch
    Posted November 9, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Well, it is over now. At last. I expect we are going to have a new healthcare system and make the Mexicans pay for it.

  12. iRobert
    Posted November 9, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I would hope now more then ever, none of us disengage. This is going to be a tough four years.

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