We brought our four kids: Nicholas, 4, Chloe 4, Hannah 2 1/2, and Timmy, not yet one. The kids helped us put people at ease as we knocked on their doors. And they lent us courage to do the knocking.
After picking up our list and route from the local State College Obama Office, we headed out to the Park Forest area of Ferguson township.
Over the course of the afternoon, we talked to over 20 people, many of whom were already supporting Obama. We did, however, talk to three undecided voters who were open to our pitch about Obama’s character and qualifications. We also talked to three Republicans who were ready to consider voting for Obama based on the recent problems with the economy, but were as yet unconvinced.
I was struck by how welcoming people were and how willing they were to talk. It did not hurt that we had kids running around, excited to take turns ringing doorbells and happy to just be with each other and with us on a beautiful day.
We did meet one person who felt political views were a personal matter. We respected that and left him with some literature about the Obama plan to strengthen the economy.
One Republican resident answered the door with a bowl of spaghetti, but he didn’t excuse himself on that basis when we told him we were canvassing for Obama. He expressed concern about the economy (by far the main issue on everyone’s mind) and listened to us talk about how Obama wants intelligent regulations for 21st century business practices that do not undermine innovation.
In the end, however, the best part of the day was to be with a friend, with our kids, doing our part to nudge the world in the direction toward which we believe it should go.
If we changed no one’s mind, if we failed to win a single vote for Obama, it would still have been time well spent; for surely Nicholas, Chloe, Hannah and Timmy, each in her or his own way, felt something of the powerful possibilities that open when people enter into dialogue with one another intent on bending the “arc of the moral universe toward justice”.