Drive for Change
by Maria Diaz
You see in the time leading up to this coming election for president, you are going to meet somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 white girls telling you that you should vote for Obama for president.
Alex wrote that awhile ago, and I can confirm it's a number which is almost entirely accurate. I'd like to add the following to: you'll also meet abut 50 former hippies who drive hybrid SUVs, about 500 thin, passive white men who graduated from liberal arts colleges, and a few lesbian couples. Oh, and one Dominican girl who sounds like a white girl. That'd be me.
I went to Reno, where I canvassed for Obama, or "drove for change." Or rather, sat in the passenger seat of a really old BMW and knocked on doors for change. I'd never been to Reno before, and as a person who enjoys eating meat and looking at flashy lights, I loved it.
As if they knew an annoying San Francisco resident was coming with a cheap digital camera, a laptop and a Moleskine, that same weekend was also the Reno Street Vibrations festival. The bikers there were not the manorexic dudes you fantasize about when they come to your office to drop off packages, but bikers that are in actual gangs and roam in packs wearing jackets with their gang's name.
The first night, I played nickel slots and watched a cover band play in the hotel bar of the Sands Regency Hotel with about 100 dancing biker women. After the required AC/DC and Skynyrd covers, the band asked : "There any Nickelback fans here!?", and the crowd roared back. And off they went into a rendition of "This Is How You Remind Me." I ordered another whiskey and ginger ale and switched to playing the eBay penny slots, a huge rip off which I can't recommend.
The next morning, while walking around downtown Reno in desperate search of coffee that didn't taste like poison, I spotted an enormous McCain/Palin sign. Two doors down is the local chapter of Planned Parenthood. One for passive aggressive notes? You decide.
Spotted outside the Sands Regency: a MoveOn.org canvasser, competition! I wanted to challenge him to a fight, I looked him dead in the eye and he just smiled and asked the biker standing behind me if he wanted to register. The biker declined. He didn't ask me if I needed to register. I wonder if the Obama/Biden sticker on my notebook can be picked up through his Moveon.org x-ray vision (it is a power they are assigned, along with the ability to send 1 million mass emails a day).
One person we talked to told us that she was also hit up by McCain/Palin canvassers. I signed up for McCain's site (McCainSpace!) under a fake Gmail address to see if I could find out more. You have to apply for their program, where you can be a "McCain Maverick" or a "McCain marshal." My profile on McCain space has yet to be approved, but I have been receiving messages from Sarah Palin. I keep reporting her to spam.
Annoyingly, this election will be decided by the undecideds. By the people who will wake up on November 4th and decide they didn't like how Obama looked during a rally on TV. Or by people who aren't educated in one way or another, who think that by voting for "the hot chick", the hot chick will sleep with them (are these the same people inspired to drink shitty beer by watching Bud Light commercials or who actually purchase Axe Body Spray?). who perhaps were rejected by Harvard Law. When we asked them, what is the most important issue, most people couldn't name it.
I think the reality is that most people are decided, they are just ashamed and can't trust their own feelings. Case in point: the couple who tells us they are undecided, but the minute we close the door, yell out so we can hear them: "We're voting for McCain! YAY MCCAIN!!!"
There are a lot of bikers in the sub development we visit and most of them aren't home because of the bike festival. One biker answers the door and towers over us, two stereotypes of blue state liberals there ever was: unpolished, messy hair, dark rimmed glasses, dark tshirts. We are terrified as he tells us that everyone in his house has made up their mind. He says: "We're all voting for Obama." We breath a huge sigh of relief and thank him for his time.
Only one door got slammed in our face out of about 100 doors knocked. I knew it was coming when I saw the multiple pick up trucks in the garage.
My favorite people to talk to are the old lady Democrats, the 90 year olds who slowly answer their door in full makeup. They do not hesitate to tell us they're voting for Obama. They like him, they say. And besides, they tell us, McCain is too old.
The next day, while playing nickel slots, waiting for my ride and enjoying a lunch time cocktail, I spot one of our McCain voters, also at the nickel slots. We're all the same, united by a love of throwing our money into a toilet. Or a machine with flashing 7's, all in a row.
Maria Diaz is a contibutor to This Recording. This is her first appearance in these pages. She tumbls here.
portrait of the author
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"Good Goodnight" - Aqualung (mp3)
"Can't Get You Out of My Mind" - Aqualung (mp3)
"On My Knees" - Aqualung (mp3)
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