Post-Debate: Canvassing Door to Door, Finding Republicans with More Loyalty to America Than their Party
By Rob Kall
Yesterday, I went out canvassing door to door for Kerry/Edwards in Buckingham, Bucks County PA , a lynchpin district in a lynchpin county in one of the three key swing states. Two other volunteers and I were knocking on doors in a development consisting of single homes built for mostly over-70 seniors. Every senior I asked had watched the debate. Most were pre-screened Republicans, many of whom had not yet made up their minds when they 'd been called by phone banks doing screening to help canvassers decide who to call upon.
The people we visited had a huge response to the first debate. This was the first time ever that George W. Bush had to face tough questions without the protections of his office and it had a huge impact on the people we visited. Even Bush 's press conferences have allowed him to avoid, evade and deflect questions, moving to the next reporter, often a shill asking Bush-friendly questions. The debate forced Bush to show his true stuff, without filters, without his staff 's protection, without artificial shielding from challenges.
After watching the debates, fully half the formerly undecided Republicans had made up their minds in favor of Kerry. Over and over again, we 'd knock on the door of a person who was registered Republican and one of us would start our improvised version of the script, provided to us by the local democratic organization:"I 'm from the Buckingham Democrats and we feel this is one of the most important elections in our lifetimes. We 're supporting John Kerry and John Edwards and we 'd like your support. "
Some Republicans would reply, "I 'm a Republican " and assume that we would accept that they were voting for George Bush. But over and over again, we 'd knock on a Republican 's door and they 'd tell us they were going to vote for Kerry, that seeing "Bush unplugged " in the debate had gelled their decision.
It was great to see that patriotism for America was given priority over loyalty to the Republican party. These It was clear to these new Republicans-for-Kerry that Bush not only lost the debate, but showed that he does NOT possess the most basic skills for leadership --the ability to stay cool under pressure, to think, to keep a straight face, to process information and make good decisions.
The Republican Party has spent hundreds of millions of dollars building a negative image of Kerry, while trying to sell Bush as strong, as the man to be trusted when the nation is threatened. Ninety minutes of naked exposure in the Florida debate worked like the serial hurricanes that hit Florida, blowing away Bush 's expensively built image.
After our first half hour of knocking on doors, when we encountered an "I 'm a Republican " answer, we would reply, "A lot of your Republican neighbors are supporting Kerry, " and we 'd ask if they 'd seen the debate. Almost without fail, these Bush Republicans and those still undecided, begrudgingly admitted they 'd seen the debate and our candidate had won.
You could see, behind the pursed lips and stiffened chins, that these people were struggling between Party loyalty and common sense American patriotism. One woman in her seventies who admitted she was undecided said, "I 've never NOT voted for a republican in my whole life. " But she was disturbed by the man she 'd seen in the debate, and bothered by his Iraq history.
I 'd point out to them, just imagine Bush a crisis --surrounded by smart, emotional advisors, each pushing for their solutions. Bush would get flustered. Bush showed in the debate he has no ability to integrate information and make decisions. He claims he 's a leader, that the reason to vote for him is his decisiveness --but you didn 't even have to listen to the words of the debate to see what kind of leader George Bush is. And seeing who he really is makes it easier to understand how he was tricked into buying the WMD lie, how he led us into the massive Iraq mistake.
The Republicans have spent hundreds of millions to argue that America needs a strong, decisive leader who can make the right decisions. Their problem is that a lot of registered Republicans are seeing that George Bush fails to meet the criteria and standards that his own ads call for. They see George Bush for the dumb, international embarrassment that he is. One woman in her late sixties, still undecided, commented on Bush 's debate performance, saying that she has a grandson who is dyslexic. I replied. "You love him, but you wouldn 't want him running the country. "
Registered Republicans face a tough dilemma --stay loyal and faithful to your party and know you are voting for the lesser man, the man who is clearly unequipped to handle the responsibilities of the presidency --or break with party loyalty and vote for what 's best for America. It 's the kind of choice a parent must make when faced with having a child who loves baseball in a little league team with a coach who is mean-spirited and unsportsmanlike. The best solution is to get the coach replaced not to pull the child from the sport he or she loves.
Every democrat and the many former Republicans I know who are supporting Kerry feel that this election is the most important in their lives, that America itself is on the line. If you are a Republican, I hope you 'll look into your heart and find the strength to vote for America rather than for your party. If you are already a Kerry supporter, now is the time to help your Republican friends, family and co-workers see that their choice is between their party and their country. It 's a simple choice-- loyalty to America or to the party fielding a candidate who is clearly unable to lead his way, on his own, out of a paper bag.
Rob Kall firstname.lastname@example.org is editor of www.OpEdNews.Com living in Bucks County , PA. You can find over 150 additional articles by Rob Kall at this Archive