Jack Schnedler in Ohio: “Sometimes we become hypocrites…”

November 1, 2012

By Jack Schnedler
BDA Special Correspondent

It’s Wednesday afternoon in suburban Dayton, Ohio, and I’m busy being a hypocrite.

I’m in the Trotwood field office of the Obama for America campaign, making telephone calls to a long list of potential voters previously identified as definite supporters of the President’s re-election.

My mission is to ask these Democratic partisans to knock on the doors of other Obama backers this weekend and remind them to be sure to vote between then and Election Day next Tuesday.

Why am I a hypocrite? Because wife Marcia and I when home in Little Rock reject almost every unsolicited phone call, brusquely telling the electronic intruder on our domestic privacy to communicate with us by old-fashioned mail.

Now I’m the person doing the pestering, albeit for what I see as a noble cause, and Marcia is doing the same seated next to me. She seems to be getting more positive responses than I am, a credit to her charming ways.

We’ve traveled from Romney-solid Arkansas nearly 800 miles east on a nine-day mission between now and Nov. 6 to do our small part in making a difference for Obama in what is said to be the most important of the so-called battleground states.

I dial a number, and there’s an answer through cell-phone static from 38-year-old Brittany. When I say that I’m calling as an Obama volunteer, she replies with verve, “I have an Obama T-shirt.”

Before I can proceed further, she asks, “How can I find out if I’m registered to vote?”

That’s a stumper not covered on the cheat sheet supplied by the local Obama campaign.

I tell Brittany I’ll try to find out, before learning more than I expected (or needed) to be told in her replay, including the fact that she is currently homeless:

“Can you tell me if I’m registered to vote? I had a felony conviction three years ago. Can you help me?”

That’s beyond my pay grade as an out-of-state volunteer, so I summon the expertise of Kristen, a paid Obama campaign staffer. This angel determines via computer that Brittany is indeed registered — and that Ohio permits her to vote despite the conviction. Kristen offers to have this forlorn soul picked up and driven to early voting. Every vote, after all, counts.

I have a more salubrious conversation with 65-year-old Ronald, one of my very few afternoon successes in recruiting volunteers for the weekend push. After signing up, he waxes on about the likelihood that Hurricane Sandy “may really put Obama over the top. It’s like a blessing from heaven.”

We chat a bit more about the incumbent President’s virtues and Mitt Romney’s shortfalls. Then I sign him up for volunteer duty on Sunday.

Other calls produce more reminders of the challenging lives faced by so many Americans. I call a number listed for Richie and get his wife. She tells me he is out of town for treatment of his leukemia but probably will be back in time to vote on Tuesday. She has already voted early for Obama.

Some of those I reach are honest if not helpful. Fred, who assures me he has already voted for the President, declines the offer to volunteer. “I don’t really have time for something like that,” he says.

Marcia is having similar eye-opening experiences. When she asks for Patricia at one number, a girl’s voice replies, “She’s not here anymore.”

When Marcia asks if she knows where Patricia now can be reached, there’s a sadness in the reply: “No. She’s just gone.”

Was this the plaintive response of an abandoned daughter in yet another family broken asunder? Who knows? But Marcia says she could feel the sorrow.

It’s likely the two of us will be making more of these volunteer-seeking calls Thursday. Then we’ll be out Saturday through Election Day, knocking on doors of Obama-inclined souls to make as sure as we can that they get out to vote.

Once back home in Little Rock after the election, we’ll almost surely resume giving the verbal back of our hand to unsolicited calls. Hypocrites we may well be, but we figure that keeping Obama in the White House while keeping Romney and the Republican fanatics out of power is well worth the gap in scruples.

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