Monday, November 3, 2008

Why I'm Going Out Canvassing Today

I can always tell when I've been on the road too long--or I'm overly hungry, tired or lonely. I get cranky and weepy.

Today is one of those days, as I've been running full tilt and nearly on empty to promote Paper, Scissors, Death. I've spent most of six weeks alone in a car on highways with frequent breaks at yucky gas stations, highlighted only by meeting old pals, new readers and new author-friends.

Yesterday, I talked about my exhaustion with my friend, Vaughn Kohler, a youth paster at Grace Baptist Church in Manhattan, Kansas, and Vaughn stroked his chin-hairs before answering solemnly, "There's a reason God says to keep holy the seventh day." The delightful teen who worked in my office has grown into a thoughtful, wise young man, whom I call friend.

But I cannot rest today. Over the weekend, I've heard increasing reports of attacks on my family for our choice of presidential candidates. First, my husband was at a neighborhood bonfire, and after good-natured disagreements with our close neighbors, a woman from several blocks away attacked him for his presidential decision. When he tried to defend his position, she sloshed her martini in his face and screamed at him. When he tried again, she screamed louder and shook a finger in his face. Finally, he gathered our dogs and started for him.

She came after him.

So...David spent all day Sunday canvassing for our chosen candidate. It was his way of responding.

Yesterday, I talked to my Aunt Shirley and learned she, too, had been harrassed by fear mongers. They were sending her threatening emails. Shirley is in her 70s. Certainly, this is upsetting. In fact, I'd go further--it's downright disgusting.

A free nation is free because we are free to disagree. Sometimes passionately, but always respectfully. In disagreeing, we sharpen our arguments, we are forced to dig deep and re-think, and smart people often walk away determined to further educate themselves.

We have no room in this country for uncivil disagreement. Indeed, the stakes are so high, that uncivil discord will only plunge our country further into thise huge morass of doubt, indecision, and bad choices. If we are to regain the high road--to again be the shining beacon on the hill--we must learn to listen to each other, to disagree without being disagreeable, and to emerge thoughtful, not angry. We must build accord rather than discord.

Because as Abraham Lincoln said, "A house divided cannot stand."

And now, I'm going out to canvass votes for my candidate. I will NOT let hate-mongerers decide for me. I will NOT be frightened into staying home. I will NOT sit idly by while some scream in my face, my husband's or my aunts. That is NOT the America I choose to live in, and so it is incumbent on me to help rebuild my country, one household at a time by respectfully urging occupants to vote--and if they are undecided to offer them what information I can.
By the way, I encourage you to journal about your candidate. In fact, here's a journaling box to get you started. Email me at if you want it in a file form. I think future generations will be curious about YOUR decision. And let's face it: No one can truly test a candidate except time in office.


Camille Minichino said...

Thanks, Joanna. I'm distressed at the high emotional tone of this election also. Not that I am blameless.
I have been looking in vain for a place to "argue" in the true sense of the word. It seems all we can do is emote, scream, insult ...
Good for you for getting out. This is the first election when I'm NOT working at the polls. Too distressed.

Terri Thayer said...

There's no excuse for behavior like that. People are a tad overwrought. Too bad they took it out on your family.

Betty Hechtman said...

I can only say I was shocked at that woman's behavior to your husband. It is outragesous.

I guess I am niave, but I always expect people to be respectful of those who differ from them.

Sheila Connolly said...

There are those who would say that political commentary doesn't belong on a writers blog. I'm not one of them.

Why is it all right to plaster sex and violence all over the "entertainment" media, but to be harassed for defending our personal beliefs?

It matters--and good for your husband for doing something about it.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

My husband didn't want me to do this posting. But I feel I was fair and even-handed. Who you vote for is your business. Well, actually, it's the nation's business--and all of us citizens have a responsibility to vote. grandfathers and father served in the military to preserve our freedoms, one of which is the right to vote. When we harrass each other, we're no better than those third-world nations where people vote in fear! We're no better than those of the old days when folks were scared to vote because of race, creed or color! And we're better than that.

I am happy to report that during our canvassing yesterday, we met several lovely, thoughtful people who disagreed with our candidate--but thanked us for the reminder to vote and for the fact that WE were doing something they admired...working hard and RESPECTFULLY for our chosen candidate.

Only one woman was clip--and she was more short and to-the-point than anything. (Although she did glare at us a bit. But that's okay. Emotions run high.)

When we discovered the person we'd approached disagreed, we simply said, "We still hope you'll go vote. And we hope that after the election we will all work together to get this country back on track. We have so much to do."

With that sentiment, everyone agreed.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who is voting for who or why. I do know that I VOTED today for Obama, and I am not ashamed or afraid to say that publicly. There is no need for me to go into why. We all have our reasons.

I can say I am digusted by people who feel the need to trample all over everyone else's rights to free speech. Shame on them.

Karen Syed

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