volunTEER AND LOATHING in the Birthplace of the Republican Party, Part I
Wednesday night, Melinda and I went to a little information session sponsored by the League of Women Voters. She had signed up to volunteer for Kucinich, then hadn't really participated for months. So Wednesday afternoon, she gets a call asking if she'd like to come to this meeting. I thought it was a meetup for Kucinich supporters, but it turned out to be a theoretically non-partisan presentation about several candidates and general info about elections. Even Republicans were invited to present their platform, but they apparently did not feel the need.
The meeting turned out to be 9 people presenting info behind decorated tables and 4 or 5 of us listening in the audience. Each person talked maybe 5 or 10 minutes. The County Clerk and her assistant talked about the election process. A woman talked about a non-profit foundation that tries to get more young people to register to vote. The chairman of the county Democratic party read off a newspaper clipping explaining different candidates' platforms.
There was one eager young Dean supporter (not just a volunteer but a paid staffer!) who looked about 15 but must be in her 20s. A man and woman in their 50s talking about Wesley Clark. The Dean and Clark people had buttons and bumper stickers and colorful pamphlets advertising their dudes, a few of those standard lawn signs taped to the front of their tables.
In the Kucinich corner, we had a total character. Couldn't ask for anyone better to represent Kucinich. A 74 year old man with a stack of photocopied flyers. He said, "I don't have much, but this is all I need." He hit on a few of the talking points listed on the front of the flyer, described the candidate as "an organic health food nut just like me" and said he really liked Kucinich's idea of opening a Department of Peace. Basically just exhibited his enthusiasm and hoped that it was infectious.
When we talked to him later, I noticed he was wearing a couple buttons including one that said CLARK 04! I assumed he was just wearing lots of buttons to be sociable. On the back of the Kucinich flyer, we were surprised to see Melinda's name and phone number and email address. She was the main contact in our county for the Kucinich campaign!
It was pretty fun and all the participants were friendly, although the Dean staffer started to take offense when one of the others said that the state of Vermont has a smaller population than the city of Columbus, Ohio, so Dean's political experience is practically equivalent to that of a mayor. (Is that true?) Other than that, the competitors were very friendly to each other, and about half of them professed interest or outright longing for other candidates than the ones they had spoken for! The guy who had talked about Clark knew we were already set on Kucinich. He talked me in to coming down to one of the caucus places this Saturday and handing out flyers for Kucinich.
People seemed to appreciate seeing each other take an interest in politics, no matter whose candidate you prefered.
So the enthusiastic gentleman is supposed to drop off some flyers for us tomorrow. I'm afraid he's going to give us more copies of the one from Weds, which turned out to be dated Nov 2003 -- meant to get people volunteering and meeting each other. I know he doesn't have internet access, so I printed some of the more recent flyers from www.kucinich.us to give him tomorrow.
I don't have high hopes, but the important thing right now is that even if Kucinich can lose with more votes than expected, it should get a little attention from the other candidates. If we can sway some of those mainstream Democratic frontrunners to move in Dennis's direction, it will be worth while.
Part II: Peek Inside The Machine.