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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Friday, October 22, 2004

door-to-door in jax

we also pounded the streets today – we’ve the move on list – what a FABULOUS organization and what AWESOME volunteers – going door to door to talk w/voters about their intentions. do not be intimidated by knocking on people’s doors – republicans are less mean & ugly when they are alone one-on-one with no audience to witness their posturing! although the list of folks we got are democrats who are newly registered, haven’t voted consistently, or are undecided, you might have to step over a few bush/cheney signs to get to the doorbell.
my first house, a young white womon with a toddler, answered the door. I asked if she was the name on the list – no, that was her sister who’s moved to tampa & needs an absentee ballet! this is not a choice on the move on questionnaire but I make a note! when I asked her if she’s decided who she’s voting for, a question that is on my list, she narrows her eyes, declares kerry, and says well, look at the alternative.
the next few respondents were voting for kerry. then i approached a sprawling 50’s ranch w/no signs out front. I knocked & found the brother of the name on my list – a day for siblings! again, I asked this young white male if he’s decided who to vote for; he actually told me he was undecided! and he was willing to talk w/me! his mom was for kerry and his father was for bush and he himself didn’t know but he was leaning towards bush. I asked him what was it that made him lean towards bush and he said how bush was handling the terrorists. I asked him to name 3 things bush has done well handling terrorists. of course, there is only one thing – the war. I asked him if he realized not one Iraqi was on the planes that attacked us. no, he didn’t know that. I asked him if he realized not one weapon of mass destruction was found in iraq – until we dropped bombs that is. another thing he didn’t realize. I asked him if he realized there was no connection between hussein and osama, in fact they were enemies. he didn’t. I asked him if he truly thought pumped up testosterone macho posturing followed by bombing a tiny, poor country killing over 30,000 people not to mention over 1,100 u.s. soldiers was going to make us safe. he wasn’t so sure. we talked about domestic policies. he liked kerry’s positions on health care, education, jobs but thought he was weak, a girlie man. fuck arnold swartzennegger, that hateful son of a bastard. here was an extremely southern polite young white male taking the time to speak w/a stranger knocking on his mom’s door, a young male who didn’t know there wasn’t an Iraqi 9/11 terrorist to be found but certainly knew sexist bile from the other side of the country – go figure.
I appealed to him to listen to women, his mom first of all, in this election at the very least. I left feeling hopeful…..we’ll see.
I was surprised when the last womon on my list, sitting on her grass weeding, told me she was voting for bush. I was even more surprised when she agreed to talk w/me about her decision. it was a repeat performance – she had no idea there were no iraqi’s on the planes, no weapons of mass destruction found, no reason – other than the 2nd largest oil reserve under Iraqi soil – to attack this nation. she was vaguely aware of bush’s domestic economic policies that have crippled the nation’s poor and middle classes and seemed genuinely distraught when I mentioned unemployment rates, schools closing, poverty rising for 3 years in a row!!! she agreed these were reasons to vote for kerry.
when I asked her if they were reasons enuff to vote for kerry, she gave me that righteous hesitation that smelled like anti-choice. she wouldn’t say it directly so I did. she actually didn’t want to talk about it, so I did. I told her I can’t really understand if someone is anti-abortion on the grounds of protecting life, then didn’t she find it terribly hypocritical to then be bombing and killing over 30,000 iraqi’s? she did nod her head in agreement until I continued with if one really is anti-abortion, then you would support kerry. I told her about how abortion has been on the rise since gwb took office, to the tune of 52,000 more abortions this past year. I told her how abortion rates had been steadily declining over the past 20 years until bush came into office. I told her about the 3 reasons wimmin are now having more abortions: 1) they can’t afford a child; 2) they don’t have health care; and 3) they have boyfriends who don’t have jobs. bush’s domestic policies contribute to the rise in abortion.
I ended w/asking her if she really wanted a man who declares himself to be a “war president”. I told her we, women, children, men, in the u.s., in iraq, in the world, need a peace president. we talked for a good 15 minutes – I was surprised she continued to speak w/me. I profusely thanked her for taking the time to talk – I told her my experience is that republican wimmin usually will not discuss their positions and it made me really glad that she’s been willing to do so. she smiled a little ruefully & announced she was a democrat! I called her by her name & expressed my dismay & hope that she’ll reconsider. then she told me she wasn’t the womon on my list – that was her daughter! okay, time to start all over again!

undecided voters – go get em’

I understand it is a cheaper republican winning strategy to disenfranchise & block voters than to put the effort into getting out the vote. but I say to you GET OUT THE VOTE. I spent the evening last nite standing in front of publix (that southern grocery store chain) holding a bright pink sign that said in big bold black letters: “UNDECIDED? Talk to Me!!!”
After finding 6 such voters in less than 2 hours, I was able to convince them not just to vote, but to vote for Kerry! the first young man was pushing his toddler daughter in a shopping cart across the parking lot toward the publix entrance, intent on shopping. he was glad to see me, as was his little daughter who allowed us to speak uninterrupted for over 5 minutes. he told me he didn’t know who he should vote for, maybe bush because we’re in the middle of a war; but maybe kerry because he has a plan for health care. this young man was semi-informed but more important, he was interested in hearing facts – which I presented to him. And I told him I think this concept that it is detrimental to change prez’s during this unjustified, totally wrong war was not only misguided thinking but a republican campaign strategy. this was the easy undecided voter.
the next two individuals were more difficult – both were more uninterested than undecided. when I pushed each to figure out how come they were uninterested, they both felt they were overwhelmed by the lying & misinformation and they felt totally uninformed. to their relief, I explained to them I had spent the past 2 years (didn’t want to mention the lifetime) getting & staying informed, researching, talking, figuring things out. I ‘briefly’ outlined what has been happening in our country & why; kerry’s record & the bushes records; a vote for bush is a vote for a war president who has succeeded in making the very few richer and the rest of us a lot poorer, not to mention the death, devastation & destruction in iraq – a vote for kerry is a vote for more peaceful existence in the world and an economy that benefits the rest of us. they both thanked me for giving them reasons to vote for kerry and to not vote for bush! I handed them some fliers and encouraged them to vote early.
another voter I encountered was leaning toward bush – his main reason? kerry flip-flops. I asked him to name me three things kerry’s flip-flopped on. he couldn’t. so I made it easier – name one thing. he still couldn’t. I explained to him that ‘flip-flopping’ was a republican campaign strategy slogan and it is just that. I think it had a huge impact on this voter, actually he said it did. then I talked about the fact that kerry did the ultimate no-no in those primarily boy’s organizations: he challenged his superiors publicly, called them out on the carpet, and became a predominant leader in the anti-war movement – which I think is the basis for the flip-flop campaign.
most people can neither articulate why they are supporting bush, nor can they define kerry’s flip-flops. interesting enuff.
yet another voter, wheel-chair-bound, sporting tubes & bandages and missing a leg, informed me he wasn’t voting because his vote didn’t make any difference. I told him softly I totally understood how he feels, and then I told him a lot more firmly, it just wasn’t true – his vote means so much, to all of us. I told him about starhawk’s wisdom, that when we feel this way, hopeless and depressed, as if we cannot make a difference & our vote doesn’t count, then we are falling under the spell of those in power – for surely they want us to be silent, to feel like we cannot impact their course for ourselves & our nation, not to mention the world. I told him we need to do a counter-spell for him so he knows that his vote counts, to me, to lots of folks.
we talked for about 10 minutes then about the differences between bush & kerry. he’s pretty much a kerry supporter all the way so I could reiterate how much his vote means. we talked about the people who died so he and I could have the right to vote & we had an obligation to the work & memory of these heroes to vote. I hope I convinced this voter to get out and vote. he tried to thank me for doing this work & talking with him. I refused to accept his thanks – I told him his vote is the ONLY thanks I want, his help in defeating bush w/his vote!
the last voter I will tell you about is an elderly white republican womon, approaching with a walker-cane, being assisted w/her groceries by a young white male republican store employee who exclaimed ‘go bush’ as they passed me. I said ‘yeah, go to texas bush!’ she angrily attempted to shake her cane at me, which appeared to be larger than her frail body. I expressed much dismay that she, as a senior, a womon, disabled, and not so wealthy-looking (unspoken observation) was supporting a president who has hurt seniors so much lately. she denied this and went on to say kerry was an ugly man who wanted to rob seniors. I asked her how kerry was robbing seniors – she angrily waved me away again, this time with only her empty hand, & turned her back.
I continued to talk w/other voters as she dealt w/her groceries. I thought that was the end of speaking w/her. after several conversations w/kerry supporters, I turned & saw she was still at the passenger’s side of her car. I asked her again, if she didn’t have a few minutes to talk w/me – this time, again to my surprise, she conceded. we spoke for a long time – time enuff for the sun to drop, the sunset to disappear and for me to be late for the banner-making party – we’re giving bush the pink-slip treatment tomorrow at the stadium, yeah!!! – it turned out, this womon was totally confused – she had decided in may to turn off her tv and not to listen to anyone – but she must be listening to someone, I thought silently, to decide bush is good for seniors, yet kerry is not. our conversation quickly turned to healthcare and social security & we talked about the plans bush has for social security, health care, retirement, drugs & seniors. she expressed her shock when I spoke of bush’s goal of privatizing social security & explained what the new medicare program really means – I whipped out the handout, which she took willingly this time. I asked her if she was aware of the economic state of this nation; I asked her if she was aware of the general world’s view of bush & his war in iraq. she wanted to know if I thought bush really did lie to us. how many times have people asked me this, their eyes guarded, their faces set in disbelief yet tinged with hope. the younger ones sometimes laugh self-consciously when I declare he did; this womon’s face filled with shame when I told her of the gross injustice this president has done not only to the people of iraq but to the people of the united states.
the message is so simple yet so huge: there were no iraqi’s on the planes; there were no weapons of mass destruction; there were no attacks against the u.s. there was the 2nd largest reserve of oil in the country under Iraqi sands; there was a regime in the white house that are oil cartel folks; and there was our self-declared war president bush’s statement when he took office “I intend to finish in Iraq what my father started!”
we then spoke of how much richer the rich have become over the past four years; and how much poorer everyone else has become. we spoke of the numbers of people out of work, out of healthcare, out of education, forced into the military, forced into lower paying jobs if any. we talked of almost everything. then she turned to me, held out her hand, stated she was Geraldine McKinze and she was voting for kerry/Edwards, and demanded I find her cane, which was already sitting in the front seat of her car.
off I rushed to buy material for the banner-making party