Blog Center: Kurt's Blog - Archived Entry
Our Weekend in Albuquerque - September 01, 2004
The road from Austin to Albuquerque can be described in only one way…..
After a very late dinner to check out the New Mexico version of Mexican food (as compared to Tex/Mex) we headed over to the home of our wonderful host from the local ACT office. The welcoming entourage included four cats, three chickens, two dogs, fish, turtles and of course our wonderful hosts Richard and Jessica. Despite the rigors of a long and tiring day, we seem to have plenty of energy to discuss the state of politics and a number of liberal and progressive issues to the wee hours of the morning.
The next morning we found our way over to the ACT office, with an obligatory stop at Starbucks for some java and an email check. The office brought back memories of campaigns past for me and filled me with energy and excitement as we prepared to canvass selected precincts. The ACT office was really together and perhaps the most surprising thing for me was that voter records for each precinct were downloaded into Palm Pilots, which we then used as we canvassed. How things change in just 15 years!
Cindy and Ezra teamed up to cover the larger of the two precincts. Cindy is truly an amazing woman….at 63 years old she has been an activist for many years including active as a WTO and NAFTA protester. Ezra on the other hand is simply a marvelous young man and relatively new to politics, being one of those prompted to activism via the policies of the Bush Administration. I teamed up with a local volunteer to tackle a smaller precinct since I would be on my own for the second half of the day.
The precincts we covered were adjacent to each other with very similar demographic profiles…middle class with a mix of Democrats and Republicans. We spent over 7 hours out in the field and had several stories to exchange at the end of the day. There were several occasions when we would canvas a Democrat who seemed a bit discouraged by the prospects of the election. However, when we told them we had come all the way from Austin Texas and gave a bit of a pep talk, it seemed to have an uplifting effect. At the same time, we ran across several voters who bluntly indicated they were tired of all the calls and canvassing. In those cases, we would politely apologize and move on…. c'est la vie.
After we completed our canvassing we ran over to the University of New Mexico to hear Ralph Nader. It was the first time that Ezra and I had the pleasure of hearing him speak but Cindy has heard him several times. It was a very interesting meeting with a number of Green Party members and other supporters. There was some debate about his being in the race and the effect on the chances of the Kerry/Edwards ticket….but one thing was clear to me, even with a Kerry/Edwards victory, progressive Democrats need to keep pushing to wrestle our political system back from the Corporations and big money interests to retake the national political agenda in our country. Real campaign finance, term limits and changes to our antiquated Electoral Voting system may be just a few of the measures needed to accomplish that objective.
On Sunday we got a bit later start and were joined by Lisa, a young lady from Dallas that had been visiting Santa Fe. We had a shorter day since we needed to leave Albuquerque by 4:00 for the long ride home, but still made some great contacts in the precincts we worked that day. The areas we worked on Sunday were more Democratic and we were pleased to find some grassroots work being undertaken by some of the residents there.
During our two days of work, there were several occasions when we had to bite our tongues and simply walk away from Bush supporters who we happened to canvass. My two favorite examples:
- A young man told me he was supporting Bush because he liked more money in his paycheck….my response was to smile and walk away, but what I wanted to do was thank him for taking on more of the income tax burden for the large tax cuts that individuals in my tax bracket received from the Bush administration.
- An elderly lady told me that she and her husband, a WWII veteran, would be supporting Bush because of his support of the military veterans…again my response was to smile and walk away, but I wanted to inquire whether she was one of the millions of elderly losing Medicare eligibility and paying higher prescription co pays or how her husband was effected by fewer veteran benefits and VA hospital closings.
Perhaps the most shocking event of the weekend came right before we left the ACT office for our return back to Texas. We found a back office wall where the ACT staff had posted some of the return and hate mail it had received from recipients of some of the direct mail pieces. The comments, which included references to hanging the staff from the nearest tree or loping heads off, were despicable. I am so proud that we as Democrats seldom take to such outrageous threats and despicable thoughts.
Our trip back home seemed a bit longer than the trip there; we were tired at that point, but now full of hope and excitement from the wonderful weekend. The trip did include a stop in Roswell….no aliens to be found….and an unfortunate speeding ticket foe me in Tom Green County. Who on earth would name their county after some geeky Canadian comedian??
A big thanks to the ACT office in Albuquerque….Richard, Terry, Jessica, Jed, Jordan and Monica….you guys are awesome. We all hope to be back again before Election Day!
// posted by kurt at 03:34 PM
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