Dan and I spent today canvassing door to door in New Brunswick, voter registration forms in hand, with Gareth far too interested in the proceedings to nap in his stroller. Tonight Dan and I are feeling our age, feeling it mostly in our knees, remembering why it is that canvassing is work usually done by college kids.
Actually, Dan's first job after high school was canvassing for Clean Water Action, so he did most of the talking today. I'm the extrovert, so when an occasion calls for speaking to strangers, in the default spousal division of labor, it usually falls to me. It turns out he still has the chops, though. Funny thing is, last time Dan did any canvassing, he was pining over some girl who had just moved to Korea--which is to say, me. A lot of his love letters from the late 1980's include Tales of Canvassing Gone Awry. It was strange and wonderful to be knocking on doors together with our kid in tow.
The people in the housing project we went to, no surprise, heavily favored Obama. The only eligible voter we found who wasn't already registered was a guy who claimed not to know what party Obama was affiliated with, but whichever party it was, that was the one he wanted to check on his form. And I feel clueless when I have trouble remembering which guys in Dante's Inferno were the Guelphs and which were the Ghibellines. I feel clueless when I miss two consecutive days of All Things Considered. Maybe I should be easier on myself.
One of the last doors we knocked on belonged to an old woman, a poll worker who said she had been present for Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. By the time we left her porch, we were inclined to believe her claim. She quizzed us on current affairs before she was willing to discuss her own views: Pro-Obama, like all her neighbors, but very concerned that the Democrats treat Sarah Palin's vice presidential candidacy with respect. McCain might not really respect his running mate, she said, but the rest of us ought to, even if Palin really hadn't done anything yet that the rest of us couldn't have accomplished with a few weeks to do our homework.
In two blocks of identical row houses, you can meet What-Party-Is-Obama-In-Again?, and you can meet I-Could-Govern-Alaska-If-I-Set-My-Mind-T
Rutgers on the 4th will afford people watching more homogeneous in age, but much more varied in ethnicity, income, and national origin. Most of my students these days are junior high and high school kids, so I have no firsthand sense of what the political climate is like on college campuses this year. It'll be good to see for myself.