I was in Leesburg, Virginia at the Loudoun for Obama headquarters there again yesterday — the office called me last week and asked whether I could help them this weekend and on Election Day, so I said yes. I was fortunate to be able to arrange a ride on my own this time — thanks again, Steve S.! Usually I’ve hitched a ride with another volunteer at Bethesda High School gathering point, but that wasn’t an option this time: the Montgomery County Obama people were sent by bus to canvass in Richmond, Virginia.
This time we were sent to a neighborhood east of Leesburg, with similar-looking single family homes neatly spaced down their streets, plastic tricycles in the yard, lawnmowers running.
The second house I got to had two young voters listed on my walking list; probably students, not likely at home, was our guess at the canvass briefing, where the briefer used the list to illustrate various scenarios we might encounter. Sure enough, when the door opened, their mom explained that one was away at college and had voted absentee, and the other was in high school — which seemed to be her way of saying I couldn’t talk to that one. She added that I was not the first canvasser to come by, and seemed a bit exasperated about it; so I tried to say something noncommittal — “I understand” or something like that, and was about to say thanks and bye.
Then Dad came to the door, gave me an intent look and said “Obama’s a terrorist.” I couldn’t quite believe it, and couldn’t judge his mood, so I started to smile a bit — at which point he said “I’m not joking”, and slammed the door on me.
Naturally, I took that as my cue to leave, walked up the road a bit, and stopped to record some notes about the address. Then the door opened back up — as you may imagine, gentle reader, a very unwelcome development from my point of view. “What all adjectives are you writing down there?” shouted Angry Dad. “Just that we maybe shouldn’t come back,” I said, noting to my relief that he didn’t appear to be armed.
“You all act like people are too stupid to know how to vote.” No idea what he meant by that, maybe that there are a lot of “know your voting rights” leaflets and messages floating around; at least for in person absentee voting (in its last day as we spoke), the i.d. requirements in Virginia require some explaining, as they depend in part on whether you’re a first time voter or not. I actually thought all this, in shorthand so to speak, as he ranted at me.
“You all shouldn’t be here,” Angry Dad continued shouting. “You all should be in the projects” – he drew it out, a contemptuous “praww-jecks” — “that’s where his supporters are.” Umm, yeah, you racist sh*thead, I thought but wisely did not say, opting instead for a bright “Have a good day.” The door shut, this time thankfully for good. I added “A hostile reception. He may not be a supporter of ours” to my writeup.
Later on I ran across my first sign of life for the McCain campaign in Virginia — a door hanger. The part I could read — I didn’t take it off the door knob to read the other side — said, from my partial recall: John McCain, Sarah Palin. A country worth fighting for. A people worth protecting. … We are Americans, honorable and noble… Our future: Prosperous. Remarkable…” etcetera.
There’s something a little pathetic about insisting we are honorable and noble. There’s also something more than a little disquieting about implying McCain’s opponents are not, or that they don’t consider the country and people of the United States worth protecting.
But you know what: whatever. I think the McCain (and formerly Bush) people know it’s hopeless, that they’ve lost already, and that their disastrous ascendancy is about to end. So you get these flareups on the one hand, and these pathetic little passive-aggressive “well, we’re the real good guys” messages on the other. Angry Dad will be stewing something fierce next week, I hope. His problem, not mine.