Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Campaign Volunteer

It was an uncharacteristically hot October day in Indiana. The 63 year old campaign volunteer found himself in very rural area this particular day. He was going door to door encouraging people to register to vote. His nearly 8 hour day had resulted in just a few new voters. However, he considered this a success. Every vote counts.

The knocks on the screen doors of the manufactured housing park were often unanswered or else met with resistance when he introduced himself and asked if he could talk to them about registering to vote. One particular knock, however, was met with a gruff voice shouting "come on in!" The Volunteer opened the door and entered the dark room. He could see the top of a man's head sitting in a recliner with his back to the door. The Volunteer cheerfully introduced himself and asked if the man was registered to vote. The man swiveled his chair around and stared at the Volunteer. His large size, bald head and multiple piercings were not completely surprising but his response was. "I can't vote" he replied simply. "Oh - why is that?" asked the Volunteer. "I'm a convicted felon" the man said. "Well, I'm sorry to hear that, " the Volunteer responded, "thanks for your time."

Undeterred, the Volunteer completed a few more stops and then drove the 15 miles or so back into town to be sure he got the few new registrations in on time - as this was the last day to register. Back at the campaign headquarters the Volunteer turned in his registrations.

At a stop for coffee afterwards, the Volunteer pulled out his phone to do a little research. He wasn't actually sure about the laws regarding felons and voting. As it turns out, convicted felons are allowed to vote under certain circumstances in this state. The Volunteer left his coffee and hurried to his car.

About a half an hour later, the Volunteer was again knocking on a screen door. "Come on in" yelled the familiar gruff voice. "Good news!" the Volunteer exclaimed as he entered the man's home for the second time that day.


This story is not about politics. This one vote is most likely not going to turn this traditionally Red state Blue. The Volunteer did not even know the man's political persuasion as he drove the miles back out to the rural housing development. This is about finding something you believe in. It's about being passionate and doing your part. It's about perseverance. It's about not judging others. It's about having Hope. It's about giving people a second chance. It's about treating people with respect. It's about realizing that most people are not all good - and not all bad.

It's about living your life in a way that makes your children respect you, even when you're 63 and they're grown adults. It's about paying attention and learning from your parents - even when you're a grown adult and they're 63. I just did.