Squinting in the late summer sun, a heavy bag of campaign literature digging in my shoulder, I could just make out the faded bumper sticker: “Waiting for Obama to Fix the Country is Poor Citizenship.” Indeed.
Squinting in the late summer sun, a heavy bag of campaign literature digging in my shoulder, I could just make out the faded bumper sticker: “Waiting for Obama to Fix the Country is Poor Citizenship.” Indeed. My eye caught a flash of movement and, turning, glimpsed someone darting behind shut curtains. In a moment, the front door creaked open and a vaguely familiar person appeared on the porch.
“M … M… Mike? Is that you? What are you doing here?”
It took me a moment to recognize the apparition as a progressive Democratic stalwart whom I have known for more than a decade. She looked pale, worn to the bone, her skin knotted with anxiety.
Speaking gently, instinctively not wanting to startle the poor creature:
“Hey there. Yes, it’s me. How have you been? I am just doing a lit drop for Jim Moran,” I said forcing a breezy grin. “You know, election time, all us good Democrats have to get out and help the campaigns.”
Her eyes instantly widened in fear. Furtively glancing up and down the empty street, she grabbed my hand and pulled me in the doorway.
“Quick. Come in or they will hear you.”
“The news said these were the end of times for us,” she said with a suspicious tilt of her head. Backing up now she continued, “There has been so much shouting, and white people with flags, waving horrid signs, and saying the most awful things. It has been so hard …” she trailed off the thought, wringing her hands.
Then she caught her breath, grabbing me by the shoulders and pushed her face close into mine. In a terrified whisper, she said: “Mike, they have nominated a WITCH to run against us! A real honest to goodness WITCH!”
In the safety of the moment her emotions came tumbling out, spilling like marbles on the foyer floor. Revoke national healthcare. Privatize social security. Hate gays. Deny climate change. Demonize progressives. Stop affordable housing. Suppress the vote. Encourage school kids to disrespect the president. Eliminate pro-choice policies. Unfunded tax cuts for the wealthy. Put dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden. Mock and diminish civil service.
Democrats are huggers. We clung for a moment, waiting for the tension to pass. “Tough election cycle, but not the end of times,” I said smiling genuinely for the first time.
“Look. Turn off the television and stay off the blogs. Talk with your neighbors. Listen to what they say and try to understand their fear and concerns. Do some community service. Build perspective and rationality. In a roomful of angry people shouting at each other, the person who whispers calmly is the most likely to be heard.”
Walking on, I greeted a Republican friend doing yard work in his Dick Cheney t-shirt. We talked football and scotch, and he good naturedly took my campaign literature. “Man,” he said, “I was hoping you were going to take the campaign off.”
“Nope. Not my style,” I said before continuing on.
Michael Gardner is a quixotic citizen and founder of the Blueweeds community blog.