I spent part of my Saturday along with other Iowa Democrats knocking on doors for the Clinton/Kaine campaign and other down-ticket Democrats. I prefer the door-to-door experience rather than phone-calling although I have done both and — as distasteful as they are — both have been proven necessary to win modern political campaigns. When you go door-to-door people are often more receptive than being interrupted at dinner by a phone call from a stranger. You get to have some real conversations.
Part of my territory included a predominantly African American community comprised of duplexes and some small stand-alone homes. As always, the majority of people are not at home (or decline to answer their doorbells!) and in such cases a colorful door-hangar is left, not only hyping the candidates but giving information about registration, early voting, and poll locations. A service in itself, I think. And I was able to provide voter registration information to a young Black man who asked how to get registered.
Even in this working class neighborhood and at this late stage in the campaigns there were some who were undecided. When someone said they were not inclined to vote for Hillary Clinton, I asked them if they then supported Donald Trump. Everyone I spoke to had some version of “Hell, no!” I would then gently remind them that, especially in Iowa, a vote against Hillary either by not voting or voting for a third party candidate or writing someone in or even leaving that top slot unmarked and voting for those down the ballot, was in fact a vote for Trump. I believe it made some think twice.
There were some great moments though. Like the nine year old boy who was playing on the porch next to the unit whose doorbell I was ringing. “You here for the President?” he asked. “Yes,” I said, “I’m here for Hillary Clinton.” “YES!” he exclaimed, pumping his right arm in celebration. Or the middle aged woman who said, “Of course, I’m supporting Hillary. I’ve already voted early. We can’t let that crazy man into the White House!” I held up my thumb, “Let him near the nuclear button?” “BOOM,” she said, “We gone!” I couldn’t agree more.
It is a mystery to me that Iowa is perhaps the only swing state, leaning toward Donald Trump at this point. Much of it is the populist, anti-Washington, anti-establishment ethos which blankets our state, especially west of Des Moines in the vast rural areas. Some of it is the strange coalition of so-called evangelicals and Roman Catholics who are bound together by their opposition to abortion and therefore do not want Hillary Clinton appointing Supreme Court Justices which would inevitably move the Court to the left and solidify the pro choice position which is, in any case, what the vast majority of people in this country want.
I keep thinking of what I read last week: “Ironically, the people who will benefit most from a Hillary Clinton presidency are the ones most likely to vote against her.”
It’s a strange political season.
All we can do is keep hoping.
And keep working.