I don’t know if it was the neighborhood, the news cycle, or just a bad day for a lot of people in the exurbs of Philadelphia today, but there were a few people who weren’t too happy to see me today.
The two worst ones were right in a row, with a supporter card sandwiched in-between.
They were both men somewhere around my dad’s age, I’d say. They were both very polite and courteous when they first answered the door – and then they heard the word “Obama” slip out of my mouth.
The first man told me very strongly that he wanted nothing to do with me. I tried to squeeze in a quick word simply asking if anyone needed to register to vote, regardless of party. He ignored me, closed the door, and I walked away. As I got onto the driveway, he opened the door again and yelled, “You’re not welcome here” as if that wasn’t already clear enough.
The second man was a little more entertaining. He tried to get me to fall for one of his neighbors being “a big Obama supporter”. He had similarly slammed the door shut on me and as I walked away he poked out his head, too, saying: “Hey buddy, you should go to that house over there across the street. They’re big Obama supporters.”
I thanked him politely and kept going, briefly checking my list to see if there were any registered Democrats at that house. There weren’t. I laughed to myself at the two reactions.
As I talk to voters, I am nothing but polite and sometimes perhaps even too eager to avoid confrontation with people. I had said nothing to either man except that I was from the Obama campaign. If they’d let me speak, they only would have heard me ask if anyone in their household needed to register to vote – and after that I would have asked if they were supporting Mr. Obama in the November election. I had posed those same two questions to many others that day and gotten a great number of people thanking me for helping register people to vote but saying, “No, I’m registered, but I definitely won’t be voting for Obama.”
I don’t want to give the wrong impression about the people that I talk to on a weekly basis. Most people are really polite if not even nice. They thank me for helping get people out to vote. And then we agree to disagree. I’ve even had a couple staunch Republicans offer to get me a bottle of water as I’m out canvassing in 90+ degree weather.
But then there are a handful who react in just the opposite way. Why do we feel so threatened by one another? Why do we feel the need to verbally berate and belittle one another in this sort of situation? Why can’t we even talk to one another, conservatives and liberals? Why is that such a hard thing to do?