Embedded: Bwog goes native

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Bwog editor Lydia DePillis is in Kentucky, trying life on the other side.

whitneyFRANKFORT, Ky.–Another door, another vote, another Advil. According to Dems organizers, we may be hitting the entirety of Beshear’s base in this 27,000-person town, and it felt like it –canvassers were assigned large suburban districts and sent out in two-person teams, rather than three. Those who had been on last year’s trip to Ohio spoke wistfully of former Dems president Seth Flaxman’s patented “shotgun method,” wherein one person keeps track of the paperwork, dispatching doorknockers smoothly and rapid-fire. The Beshear field staff, however, had their own ideas, which the Columbia kids were largely forced to abide by.   

After a few hours tailing dogged canvassers in a neighborhood within sight of the capitol dome, it was pointed out to me that—being a gossip rag and all–there’s really no reason why I shouldn’t try a few doors myself. So, feeling slightly traitorous holding the glossy green and blue Beshear banners, I practiced my spiel and prepared to join the activist nation.

Attempt #1: First door. As instructed, I asked for Wanda. The tall young man who came to the door informed me that I must have the wrong house. I reminded him to vote and left, the cheery smile fading from my face as I turned away.

Attempt #2: No response, despite a car in the driveway. Or maybe the doorbell just wasn’t working.

capitolAttempt #3: The best door I could have possibly encountered. An old man with big horn rimmed glasses was walking down the stairs to his house, looking at me expectantly. I introduced myself, and made the mistake of asking whether I could count on his vote for Beshear. “Well I can’t tell you, we have a secret ballot,” he creaked. Fair enough. Then he asked my name, and I told him, and we got into a discussion about my Italian ancestry and how he had served there in World War II (at one point he started talking to me in Italian tinted with Kentuckian). “You tell Beshear something,” he said (in English). “He’s really gotten off on the wrong foot with casinos. That’s going to bring so much vice and corruption to Kentucky…” I nodded gravely, feeling myself become more and more girlish before this relic of an earlier age, content to listen and prompt him further with my silence. I left reluctantly, wishing I could stay the whole evening to talk—but the whole street beckoned.

Attempt #4: I approached a nice little brick house, and after a longer than average wait, saw a little wizened face appear at the window. I heard bolts sliding and chains unclasping, and the door opened to reveal a stooped 94-year-old woman, whom I slowly and clearly told should vote on Tuesday, wondering how in the world she was going to get to her polling place. There was an awkward pause. “What is it you wanted me to do?” she asked, with big eyes and a fixed smile. “Vote,” I said. “On Tuesday.” She nodded, and I backed away grinning nervously, waving goodbye. The door took a long, long time to close.

There were more doors and more stories (including one, from Dems board member Mara Richard, involving a man coming to the door, sweating, wearing a pink bathrobe, with a naked woman on the couch behind him, kicking a dog away from the door. Why someone would interrupt such evident fun to answer the door for a canvasser remains beyond me). When I arrived back at the staging area, I was exhausted and famished. I would never make it in politics.

gop hq

Meanwhile, calls to the Fletcher campaign (I’d like to find what college students still spend their weekends canvassing for a guy who’s spending half as much as his opponent) have yet to be returned, although I did happen upon the state GOP headquarters, which are housed in the Mitch McConnell building (at right). Do they rename it every time a new Republican senator comes into office?

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  1. welcome

    to the brotherhood of salesmanship, lydia!

  2. Two things

    1) MoveOn tested a get-out-the-vote mechanism this weekend in prep for 2008.
    2) Do Kentuckians spend too much time caring about immigration?

  3. Puzzled

    "Bwog editor Lydia DePillis is in Kentucky, trying life on the other side. "

    What is this "other side?"

  4. seth

    (1) Please note that my "shotgun" method is best performed with one caller and three runners.

    (2) Shame on that Kentucky campaign for fearing change.

    (3) I can't wait to read Bwog's coverage of next year's trip. If the Dems can get over 50 students to get active in an off-year in Kentucky next year is going to be huge.

    • ex-CU Dems member

      Shame on you Seth and all the other liberal elitists of your club (which sadly is at least 75% of the CU Dems) for trying to force change down peoples' throats as if you know what's best for them. I'm not a Republican or a Bush-supporter (I'm a moderate Democrat who wears his party ties loosely), but that logic of yours doesn't make any sense. If that's the attitude you guys take when you go on campaign trips, then I'm glad I didn't go on one. I've canvassed before for candidates, but I've never acted as if I know more than the people I met.

  5. me again

    One more thing: Why the hell would you guys go to Kentucky when that race is pretty much in the bag for the Democrats? Seems like a waste of gas money and CCSC funds to me. It's like the idiotic decision of going to Ohio last year instead of Virginia, where Webb certainly could have used more help than Brown.

    • hold on  

      this isn't the cu dems fault that they went to an uncompetitive race. the campaign trip normally tries to go work for a statewide campaign (for numerous reasons), and this was the closest race to competitive available in '07. besides, it gives their members valuable experience regardless.

    • Anonymous

      Your mention of CCSC funds might be interesting to many people on this campus who do not share the beliefs of the Dems... STUDENT LIFE MONEY get appropriated each and every year to sponsor the Dems on these campaign trips. These trips benefit the politician they stump for. Why should student funds be used to support a politician in Kentucky? Let his/her campaign support these trips, not Student Activity Fees.

      • actually

        student life money is appropriated to the councils and governing boards, who allot it back to student groups. so, my student life fee paid for horowitz just as much as it paid for this campaign trip, just as much as it pays for the diwali dinner or the columbia s&m club. so, basically, deal with it.

        • thoughts of a moron  

          this is a valid point. it makes me think, what is the good gained from political groups? they just divert money from activities like diwali dinners and s&m groups with better and more tangible benefits (tasty food and kinky sex). i say we all boycott student groups that dont work towards attaining tasty food or kinky sex. after all those are the two most important things about america right?

  6. ^exactly  

    what I was thinking. I agree entirely. I think this is an attempt by the Dems to claim that can effect electoral change too, instead of their usual activist functions--which increase awareness, but don't accomplish much when you are dealing with the usual over-committed college student.

  7. trips

    to Kentucky are activities and they involve students. If you don't like how they Student Activity Fees are dispersed then complain to the board

    • Anonymous

      The issue as I see it is not so much the sponsoring of a trip so much as it is a politician benefiting, albeit indirectly, from student life fees. Essentially, it is like Columbia sponsoring a politician with no connection to NYC or the school. Therefore, why should my money support him?

      It would be one thing if the Dems were working to get out the vote in a non-partisan manner in New York City... but acting as campaign tools for a partisan election having no connection with CU is what grinds my gears

      • I think that  

        The Man is an idiot. GOTV is always political. Campaign tools for a partisan election? They're a partisan political organization...

        The Republicans have the exact same right to do it as the Dems, they would just rather invite Gilchrist or Horowitz to speak.

        • Durrr

          Yeah but at least inviting a polemical figure to campus is something that involves Columbia and its students. Giving money for 50 kids to road trip to Kentucky to support a politician who has nothing to do with us seems markedly different from providing funds to bring a speaker to campus. How can you not see this?

          • because...

            groups take trips ALL THE TIME. Religious groups and such have retreats, a capella groups and dancers go perform elsewhere, service organizations go on service trips. The campaign trip, like these other trips, is an activity benefiting Columbia students - if you don't like it, get involved with another club, get active, and use governing board money for something that makes you happy (even if it doesn't make me happy...I promise I'm not selfish enough to bitch about it).

  8. shutup  

    shut up all you detractors! the cudems are changing the world! one $100 birkenstock, $5 latte, and meaningless vote at a time!

    they even went to.......THE SOUTH! the unenlightened blue-collar south! *gasp*

  9. why can't

    i just keep my money and opt for a reduced tuition? i mean seriously, why the fuck am i forced to pay for this? ITS A SCAM!

    can't i just sign a form declaring i will never join or go to an event sponsored by any of such and such groups and then save a grand?

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