I went canvassing last weekend. I did it for $50. It was almost worth $50. In case you don’t know, canvassing means knocking on doors to remind people they live in a republic. Sometimes people forget that they can vote. I don’t forget because my people fought tooth and nail to get this right, but I guess voting is kind of a hollow victory when you still don’t have a job, fair housing policies or gilded SUVs.
I felt odd canvassing for the democrats because I am still a registered republican. I was not canvassing for Obama, because the economy does that for him. I was canvassing a candidate for the State House of Representatives because I enjoy exercises in futility. For instance, one time I went fishing without bait. That was kind of like canvassing for a state representative. Except when I went fishing, I had a rod.
The group that organized this is the collection of democratic members of the lower house of the state legislature. They are the most powerful democratic organization in Georgia. They want to turn Georgia “Blue.” I offered to find them a time machine to take them to 1964. They declined. Those were different democrats. Now we have women.
We canvassed the city of Douglasville. Douglasville is outside Highway 285 – the perimeter. My friend from Atlanta told me that if I leave the perimeter I should always bring a Bible, hand sanitizer and a gun. Douglasville is a suburb of Atlanta, so I left the gun. Douglasville has clean air and only incidental racial segregation. As you would expect, the people are fat. Even the rich people who can afford vegetables are fat. It is west of Georgia, so Sherman did not burn it. It has a quaint, historic downtown with brick buildings and no “colored entrance” signs. The city is divided by train tracks. Just like in the 50s, there was a “right” side of the tracks. Incidentally there was no left side of the tracks because this is a heavily conservative area.
I brought my friend Zane. He is a dandy fellow. He supports liberal social issues. I told him we were canvassing for Obama’s mission. I did not lie. Obama’s mission includes electing as many democrats as possible. This made Zane less dandy. He wanted to canvass just for Obama.
I brought one volunteer from Emory. The two other volunteers from Emory flaked because people at this school are selfish. Last week two of my friends flaked on me. They are dead to me. This flakiness makes me look bad because I am the “Junior Executive Director of Volunteer Recruitment” for this organization. I got that promotion because my bosses think long titles are funny. My full title is “Senior Executive Research Intern Fellow and Junior Executive Director of Volunteer Recruitment and Personal Assistant to the Chief of Staff.” They are mocking me. I asked for a promotion to “paid intern,” and instead they gave me title promotions for the next five days. They also gave me a 20 percent pay raise. 20 percent of nothing is nothing. Democrats are not nice.
Two Spelman women are trying to take my job. Spelman is the all-black, all-girls school that produces crisp, decisive women. The Spelman sisters are my arch nemeses. I was dismayed to walk into the campaign headquarters with two volunteers, only to see the Spelman Sisters brought eight. Women always love helping other women. I cannot compete with sisterhood. All they have to do is summon their sisters to their side with some sort of sisterhood conch. I have no conch. I have no sisterhood. I would ask an Emory fraternity to help, but all they would want to do is ironically canvass for Ronald Reagan.
Zane and I did not canvass on the right side of the tracks. We did canvass on the politically left side of the tracks. We canvassed a subdivision called Serenity Plantation. I was not aware you could cultivate serenity. Agribusiness is a powerful lobby. I don’t know if there is a serenity crop subsidy. The majority of the houses in Serenity Plantation were Victorian style “manors” with round towers. One house was canary yellow with a wraparound porch, an attached tower with a parapet, Bavarian windows and a dingy paint job. All the houses were tinged with gentle neglect, either chipping paint or broken porch steps or unkempt lawns. They were beautiful, but slowly decaying, like a cougar in her 50s, or Peyton Manning. The subdivision was a land of playhouses built for regular-sized people, or regular-sized playhouses for giants.
When Zane and I canvassed a republican’s house, we mentioned the candidate’s business credentials. We explained that she is an internal auditor at a Fortune 500 company, so just like at her company, she will make sure the government spend our tax dollars efficiently. She also wants tax cuts for the middle class. When we canvassed republicans, we made her sound like a conservative. Georgians like conservatism. Or liberalism if this were 1860s Austria.
I had a car, so I had to drive a set of lady-canvassers to their “turf.” Their turf was split in two. When they finished one turf, I took them to their second turf. This second turf was not as clean. There is no polite way to describe this place. It was a crack-haven infested den of sin, degradation and economic depression. A dog ran by. I asked the lady-canvassers if they felt comfortable. They replied, “Hell no.” I took them back to Headquarters. When I dropped them off again, it was in a similar neighborhood. Little did I know, the people of the neighborhood were having a barbecue. The lady-canvassers were treated to ribs and fish, and a fresh perspective on economically depressed neighborhoods.
Zane the dandy and I canvassed a little old white lady’s house. We told her we were with the democrats. She said, “Uh mmm. Uh mmm. Uh mmm.” Then she slammed the door. At the next house, the owner peeked through the blinds but never opened the door. At the next house, the woman answered the door but was talking on the phone. She did not hang up or put it on hold. I told her about the candidate while she nodded her head, either at me, or to the other person on the phone. I felt like a Mormon. But, I did not feel like Mitt Romney.
After sweating for a cause, I left $50 richer but infinitely wiser. In fact, I learned a valuable lesson that day. If you want a republican to vote for a democrat, make the democrat sound like a republican.
– By A.J. Artis