Our daughter Molly and her hubby Tip are walking the walk this 2020 election season. Tip is working at the polls for early voting and on Election Day and Molly is part of team of phone callers to get out the vote for Joe and Kamala. As Molly talked about her experience of last week, she invited/challenged me to go out of my comfort zone, as she had done, and join the phone bank callers on the Tuesday (October 27, 2020) before Election Day.
At 530P this past Tuesday, I log into Zoom (a first!), and had Ben Blumenthal, Democrat operative/super-volunteer train me remotely. With the choice of two battleground states (Pennsylvania or Florida), I choose Pennsylvania as my Dad was from Sunbury in the center of the state and Mom lived near Pittsburgh in the west.
Needing a laptop and a cell phone, I am advised to (1) be myself [piece of cake for I got be me], (2) listen [check], (3) be honest [bring out my inner Abe-ness], (4) do not debate, and (5) do my part to restore the soul of America with kindness, caring, and empathy, which is sorely lacking from the current White House.
Along with 18 others on the Zoom screen, I dive in for the next hour and a half to see what voters are thinking in the Keystone State.
Starting off slowly with a wrong number, I then talk to an upbeat voter for Biden. My third call is a polite enough woman who says, Absolutely not. I live in coal energy.
I would say a third of the time people hung up. One woman says that she’d been called twice before today and another man says please do not call my phone no more and hung up.
The phone lists need some updating as one caller has moved to New York, another to Arizona. Though I am calling from my own phone, the ThruTalk software has the number that appears to the one I am calling as coming from a Pennsylvania area code.
Here’s the script. When I hear the caller, I start with, Is this, say, John? If it is, I click on that box on my laptop screen that indicates correct number. I then continue with This is Dan calling for the Pennsylvania Democrats and wondering if you are voting for Joe Biden.
The screen scrolls down to boxes for me to click on to show who they are voting for. If they say, Biden I click on Strong for Biden box. If not, it’s Undecided or Leaning Republican. If they are still on the line, I then ask if they have voted by mail or are voting on Election Day, then clicking on the appropriate screen for their response. And that’s where it usually ends. I never get to, would you like to volunteer? I am rookie; I need some seasoning. Preferably, lemon pepper.
I don’t get any abusive or angry people when I identify myself as a Biden supporter. Some say they have already voted but don’t tell me for whom. As a rocket scientist, I figure that means for the current president.
One woman says the name I am calling doesn’t live here. She wonders if I am a finance person because so many have called for him. Assuring her I am not, I ask if she is voting for Biden. She tells me, He’ll raise taxes, I don’t trust him, I’m voting for the other one. I thank her for her time.
The ones that say that they are voting for Biden, I respond, Good luck to us all next Tuesday. Usually, that is met with a knowing laugh.
Worth it? Yeah. Since I think this is the most important election of my lifetime (72 years!), I need to do more than just give money to candidates and call local York officials about keeping the polls open in the evening and on weekend.
Effective? Not sure. I don’t engage much, but I do get possibly useful information about these voters and help update the Democrat’s phone bank. Fact is, like my learning to hit an effective third shot in pickleball, I believe I’ll get better with more reps.
Second best thing? I have an experience that was blog-worthy.
Best thing? Molly. Seeing her involved in the political process for her family and for us all, I am pleased that she got me to step up. Like summer weekday morning golf at the Amesbury Country Club and breakfast outdoors at the Morning Buzz after, I get to virtually hang out with her in these strange times of the Pandemic of 2020.