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The Political Activist with the Bleeding Knuckles

April 14, 2012

Venturing into the volatile political climate known affectionately as “Main Street USA” was an experience I won’t soon forget.  We who are wont to perform such deeds  as carrying a petition in behalf of a candidate go into the political arena armed with determination, the voter rolls, a clipboard, and a pen.  We seek named individuals, and anyone else whose signature on the petition could withstand an opponent’s challenge.  After finding the right house on the right street, there are a few other considerations, especially when the petition you carry belongs to a largely unknown political candidate who the local media will not vett or even report about on any regular basis until the day before the vote.

IF the owner of the sought signature is home, and IF the doorbell works, and IF he or she hears your knock on the door, and IF he or she decides to open the door to you, and IF the family dog does not go bonkers, and IF they are not totally pissed off at your party or government in general, and IF they really give a crap, and IF they have heard of your candidate, and IF they haven’t signed another petition, and IF they decide to find out what the positions of your candidate are, and IF they then agree with those positions offered, then maybe, just maybe, they’ll sign your petition.  Frankly, it’s like pulling teeth.

This is an important part of our political system, and it does provide great insight into issues.  But, the general rule, so far as I’ve found, is this: it’s a humbling experience, and most people would rather have a lobotomy than sign a petition.  If any have anger, that anger gets directed toward you.  No matter which party caused the pain, the hostility is toward the bearer of the petition, as if that person was the government itself, or a leg of it, and not an individual who may be trying to change the current policies and administrators of those policies.  These are the people who would shoot the messenger.

A lady in a nearby town, who I am sure is a very nice lady, was not so nice when I inadvertently used the word: “change” to entice her to sign the petition.  With a venom befitting King Cobra, she came back at me:  “WELL!  How’s that hope and change working out for you?”  Astounded, all I could offer was, “I didn’t vote for him.”  But of course, the game was lost.  Even while I was in fact offering her the only alternative, it was nothing she was willing to accept.  A humbling resignation and a futile effort.

Oh, there are exceptions, and some very pleasant citizens encountered, and most of those find their way to valid signatures on your petition, making it all worthwhile.  But I would be remiss if I did not list some of the more poignant statements I heard, such as:

“I’m registered Republican; but I vote Democrat.”  (This I heard twice.)

“Oh, he’s been dead for years!”

“I don’t vote anymore.”

“He doesn’t live here anymore.”

“I am NOT interested!”

“I am pissed off at the Republicans!”

I ask, “Why?

She says: “They don’t do anything in Congress!”

I say, “With Obama, Congress is irrelevant.”

She says, “I don’t care.  I’m still pissed off at the Republicans.”  As her husband calls from the living room, “I’m a Democrat!!”,  I very nicely reply as to “how sorry I am for that; okay then, I guess I won’t be changing your mind.  Thank you for your consideration.”  And I walk away, unfulfilled again.

I give in for the day.  I get into my car and reflect for a moment.  I reach for the seat belt.  I notice the blood on my slacks, and then realize it is coming from my knuckles.  The knuckles that knocked on the doorways of so many irresponsive,  irresponsible, or just plain antagonistic citizens.  I drive home, dejected, wondering where the country is headed, whether anything at all can change it, and whether a bleeding-knuckle conservative is any match for the bleeding-heart liberal.

An Anonymous Activist

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