While I've always been obsessed with politics I never actually volunteered for a campaign before this one. Even thought I can only go for a few hours a week it's still very exciting and very interesting to see it all from the 'inside'.
Things I've learned:
1. There never seems to be enough buttons, lawn signs or bumper stickers to meet the demand. Although there's always "an order due in any day now" it never seems to be enough. I guess this demand is a good thing unless your the person who has to say no to the person insisting they need 30 buttons.
2. The rise in polls causes as much, or more, agita than joy for the folks in charge of the local offices. They fear, and rightly so, that volunteers and voters can get complacent and feel that they don't have to bother to vote. In this election where people could easily be lying to pollsters for all kinds of ugly reasons and in a must win state like Pa this could be a disaster.
3. Although it feels great to be doing even the little I am to help it's amazing to see how much time and energy people are willing to give. The paid staff works 7 days a week, a million hours a day and lives on whatever food people are kind enough to drop off. I was amazed by the numbers of people who drive 2 -3 hours down from other states to make phone calls and canvas. Each weekend we get a ton of New Yorkers who feel that Pa needs their help more than New York.
4. The people at McCain rallies really are angry. One of the staff went to the rally at Montco last week to hand out Obama literature and just to watch. He said he was curious if the 'angry mob' reports on TV were over stated. He said the anger directed personally at him was scary. People screamed at him to get a job, told him he was against the troops and really did shout out horrible things about Obama. He said he had never seen such a large crowd of incredibly angry people. I think it's great for people to be enthusiastic for their candidate ( even if it's not mine) but to direct such hatred toward the other guy ( or his staffer) is frightening. I think these people are angry about the economy and perhaps not living in a world where America is admired as a force of good. The McCain camp , intentionally or not, has directed that anger toward Obama as a person. While John Lewis may have been out of line calling McCain a racist the anger at these rallies reminds me of the way the white supremacists take the anger people feel about being out of work or in hard times and very effectively direct it against blacks and Jews.