Into the Trenches

Salon.com ran an excellent piece Thursday (it may be a registration required kind of thing) by a jazz pianist from Oakland who decided to volunteer for Kerry in one of the swing states. He wound up in Pennsylvania, and spent a week calling undecided voters and visiting bingo games and senior centers to talk to people. What I like about the piece is partly the passion that drove him to make the trip in the first place and partly his empathy for some of the undecided:

“What is touching about some of these undecided seniors is the responsibility they feel about collecting all the information before making a decision. ‘Well, Al and I are planning on watching the debate and reading some more and then we will probably make up our minds.’ Or ‘we just don’t know enough.’ It is the older generation’s inbred sense of the importance of a vote. It is a precious thing, to be cast with care and deliberation. Most of the seniors are leaning toward Kerry, but most are not excited by him. …

“… Elsa is 90 and undecided, although it says on the phone list that she is a registered Democrat. ‘Well, I don’t really know. I don’t like Bush, I know that.’ I ask her what she is concerned about. She hesitates and I tell her about my concerns about the war and that our young men and women are dying in a needless war. Elsa starts to cry. Her voice breaks up. ‘That’s about it … that’s what gets to me. Oh my.’

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