Kentucky Democrat Undecided
Today, armed only with an umbrella and a camera, I braved the West Kentucky rain to visit both Democratic Presidential nominee candidates’ Paducah headquarters.
I had one question for volunteers I met in each office. If you had three minutes to convince me why I should support your candidate, what would you tell me?
It has been a long political road since my favorite candidate, John Edwards, announced his intention to seek the Democratic Presidential nomination in New Orleans. But since Edwards left the race I had been convinced that Kentucky would play no part in this upcoming primary selection process.
Now it seems Kentucky voters may have a small voice. But what will we say? How should we speak?
I am a Kentucky Democrat and an undecided voter, I told them today. I also am a blogger and photographer and shared with them my intent to post their comments and photos if they would agree. Upfront I told them this. “I want you to have a chance to put your best foot forward.” No tricks up my sleeve.
Here is what I encountered on my lunch hour and a half.
At both offices, volunteers shook my hand, asked me my name, and immediately inquired as to whether I was there to volunteer. Neither office offered me a bumper sticker, yard sign, or lapel pin but then neither asked for a donation either. No one asked me for my vote.
Barack’s volunteers, from Idaho and New York, passed me off from first one then another until finally my three minutes of answers became 20 minutes of questions from the four of them. Who was my favorite President? Just where was this going on the internet? Could I wait while they checked for an OK from headquarters? They shared with me why I should not support John McCain or Hillary and how wrong it had been to support George W. Bush or John Edwards. “Obama will unite us” was as close as I got to an answer to my original question. I pressed for more. “Oh, he stood up from the beginning against the war.”
After giving them the URL of this blog, they got approval for my photo request. I made a few shots, met a nice lady from Graves County and a fine gentleman from Chicago, and offered to name and quote any of them directly. “No, just call us volunteers,” the very young out-of-staters smilingly said as I left.
Across town, through pouring rain, I arrived at Hillary’s headquarters where a young man, busy sharing with a visitor how to mail in her contribution, agreed to share his reasoning as a Hillary supporter. He shared a story Hillary told when he heard her speak at Notre Dame.
The story, of another young man who was aided by a Clinton phone call to ensure that he receive medical benefits from an unagreeable insurance company, had inspired him. I asked him if she would be available to make those phone calls for all the rest of us. “She won’t have to,” he grinned and said. “Once she changes policy for health care, those phone calls for all of us will already have been made.”
He then led me to the phone volunteers who happily agreed to a photograph. These local residents greeted me and asked neighborly questions about work and family. One volunteer asked if the photo would be in the newspaper. I told them no, it would be blogged. “Cool,” the other one said.
As I left Hillary headquarters, KFVS12 television’s crew from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, arrived in the parking lot. The anticipated campaign visit of former President Bill Clinton at Paducah’s Expo Center tomorrow, on his wife’s behalf, is causing our community to momentarily be a hot location it seems.
So there is my tale. I got my story. But the answer I was searching for, I am afraid, still eludes me.