Monday, November 01, 2004

We Meet At Dawn

As a person who pays an extra $15 a month to live in an apartment complex with a gym, I would like to bitch about walking seven miles the other day.

Walking seven miles for free in a neighborhood with chalk outlines at every bus stop is known as “shoe leather politics”, or “hitting a total stranger's doorbell with a four-color brochure in hand, hoping that whoever answers the door is at least 50% clothed.” This election has been described as hand to hand combat, but seriously? I didn't expect to have to show up with actual weapons. Once the election is over, I expect, at minimum, a Cabinet post.

Most precinct walks are performed in pairs, so that if one of the walkers gets shot, the other can call back to headquarters and ask for a ride to the next district (we are very devoted walkers, here in The Swamp.) The thing about precinct walking is, you never know what to expect. You could be assigned to a cute little business district, the heart and soul of American capitalism. You could wind up in suburbia, with tricycles... and a 4-runner in every driveway...and 2.5 children holding hands while skipping through sprinklers... and all. Or, in my case, you could find yourself on the set of Bladerunner, courting alien abduction.

Far be it from me to make snap judgments about the moral composition of a person by the outside of their homes, but when the first house you see has a boat up on blocks scriptfully entitled "The Island Trash", let’s just say… I’m going to have to respectfully decline any block party invitations.

In addition to enjoying the streets paved with crack, I was also underhydrated. They were offering bottles of water at the campaign headquarters, but it was Dasani, the composition of which is 4% water, 96% Morton’s salt. So I went without, but I was also on anti-spew meds, which made for that exquisite human condition of dying of thirst and yet having to pee at the very same time.

Also—and you are going to be downright shocked by this—I found myself disoriented. I parked on the side street with the fewest amount of bullet casings and started making my way around, and by the end I was still missing one of the houses on my list, located on a tiny street called “Kirk.” But there is no giving up in Bushville—537 votes, he won by only 537 votes last time, we constantly repeat unto ourselves—and so I asked a passing mailman for directions. He stubbed out a cigarette on his Glock and pointed me in exactly the wrong direction, which I discovered only after realizing that I had already passed this here pawn shop and that particular prostitute and was now walking in circles.

So I admitted semi-defeat and headed back to the Millennium Bellemobile, which I fully excepted to find stripped, but did not, as apparently even the felons have standards where sunroofs are concerned, and started hunting down Kirk Street vehicularly. Which wasn’t going too well until I made a complete circuit of the neighborhood and found myself right back on the street I was parked on, which, according to the street sign, was—-say it with me now—-Kirk.

There was also phonebanking to do, which was far safer but also far more depressing. Phone banking involves dialing the fax machines and disconnected numbers of total strangers and directing them how to vote, which is exactly the type of call I’m always eager to receive. We had a little script to read, which thanks to campaign finance reform (is it just me, or is the only apparent reform to campaign financing the added bonus of hearing, “I’m so-and-so, and although the production quality is piss-poor and I just accused my opponent of having sex with baby sheep, I approve this message”) included the fact that the call was paid for by the Republican party, which had the added bonus of making us sound like total tools instead of merely electoral busybodies. One of my fellow callers got around the caveat by beginning each answering machine message with, “This is the Republican party calling!” which seemed kind of okay in theory, but this guy was approximately four hundred years old, tending to leave the impression that the Republican party sounded like the Pope muttering into a bus station intercom. After a while he also started adding “Go Bush-Cheney!” but in this very tiny, very frail voice that may actually help us, because, listen, if I were a swing voter and came home to that message on my machine, these words that were clearly the last gasps of a man on his deathbed, I know which way I would vote.

I was facing a small television set while making my calls, and Fox was broadcasting wall-to-wall campaign coverage. I’d see W and then Lurch and then Big Time and then The Breck Girl and then W again, but it was difficult to discern the date and location of the Presidential footage, because the man apparently never changes his shirt. The President was wearing this chambray blue shirt at his campaign kickoff rally in Orlando back in March, he was wearing it last week at Space Coast Stadium, and frankly I’m starting to think he was so craptacular in the first debate because he dared to campaign without it.

Sometimes I would get a Bush voter on the line and exchange sympathies. “I early-voted for Bush,” one woman told me. “Who wants Ichabod Crane for a President?”

But in all the calling was horrible, as expected, because it put me in contact with people who should never, ever have the right to vote. Example:

“I’m calling from the Bush-Cheney campaign—“

“The what, honey?”

“The campaign to re-elect President Bush and Vice-President Cheney.”


“Is that some kind of cookie?”

Democracy! Getcha some!

bartender pour the wine at:

1 comment:

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