News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Don Drumm Studios


Greater Akron Chamber

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us

Thanks from California to that undecided voter in Ohio
And maybe some day, they'll meet and sort the whole thing out
This story is part of a special series.

Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
In the last minutes of the election, an Obama campaigner in California made a connection with an undecided voter in Ohio. As he explains in this commentary, Andrew Lewis would like to find a way to keep that connection going.

It’s election night and I’m working an Obama phone bank in California.  Forty-five minutes before the polls close in the Midwest, the auto-dialer beeps and on my screen appears the name of a woman in Ohio.

“Hello,” she says.  She sounds tired.

I explain that I'm calling from the Obama campaign and I just wanted to make sure she got out to vote.

“No,” she says.  ‘No, I didn’t.’

An uncomfortable silence follows.

“Is there a reason why?” I ask.

She pauses for a long time.

“I didn't know who to vote for.  I just don’t know enough about the candidates to make a good decision.  So I think it’s better not to go out there.”

I hold my earbuds close to my head and strain to hear above the noise around me.

“You’ve just made my day,” I tell her. “I can’t believe that I’m actually talking to an undecided voter in Ohio.  I didn’t know there were any of you left.”

The woman laughs. Emboldened, I ask if there was something in particular she didn’t like about the president.

“I don’t know,” she says hesitantly. It’s hard to talk about.  She struggles and at last declares, “I don’t like gays.  And I don’t like abortions.”

Those are deeply held beliefs tied to God and religion. Phone bank instructions are to cut bait and go on to the next call.  But I don’t.

Don't hang up
Instead I listen to this woman on this fall evening in Ohio.  I’m surrounded by the buzz and chatter in the campaign office.  Virginia is closing and folks are dialing as fast as they can.

The lady continues. “I do care about people though,” she says. “And I want to help people out.  And it seems Obama wants to do that, too.”

We’re together and yet a huge divide separates us and I have no idea how to bridge it.

“You know,” I finally say. “Given how you feel about those first two issues, I can see how it would be hard for you to support the president.  It’s really hard.”

It is, she says.

“But it’s really good you’re thinking about it,” I say. “And I want to thank you for being so nice.  So many people have been calling you and bugging everyone in Ohio, and you’ve been really gracious and you didn’t have to do that.”

“It’s been really hard,” she says. And then she adds something. “Where’s my polling place?”

I tell her and thank her again for her time.  She thanks me and we hang up.  And I’m onto the next call.

Victory, and questions answered and unanswered
Today, I and all my friends are basking in the Obama victory.  But I also can’t stop thinking about that undecided voter in Ohio.

I don’t recall her name.  But if you hear this, please know that I'm talking to you.

I think it would be neat if one day we could meet and sit together and talk.  I’d like to learn a little bit about who you are and vice versa.

I’d like to thank you again for letting me into your life for just a few minutes, and for being honest, for saying things that are especially hard to say to a stranger.

Why do we believe in different things?  Why are those issues that are so emotional for you perhaps less emotional for me?

We’ve had different lives and been exposed to different things.  But we've grown up in the same country.  And perhaps that can make all the difference.

If we could ever meet, I’d like to introduce you to some of my friends who are gay.  They’re decent, wonderful people: TV producers, investment bankers, astronomers, hospice nurses caring for people as they die.  These are people who, without you asking, would watch your back unconditionally.

I’d like to also tell you that I don’t like abortion either.  And truthfully, I don’t think there are a whole lot of women out there who do.  For those I know who’ve had an abortion, it’s been sad and painful and not an easy choice at all.  But they do want, and I believe deserve, the right to choose.

Finally, I wonder if somewhere in the mass of issues that often divide us, perhaps there’s something you and I can agree on.

We both genuinely care, I believe, about the future of this country. 

Luck to both of us as we figure this whole thing out.

Andrew Lewis is a writer and community development professional living  in Sebastopol, California.  

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio Rep. John Boccieri sworn into office and hopes to look for 'middle ground' with colleagues
Welcome back to the Statehouse, John. You are a terrific representative in the truest sense always representing the people's voice in teh district you serve. ...

Lawmakers call for indefinite freeze on Green Energy standards
It's a shame the Hudson Rep. Chooses to mimic the words of the extreme right senator on his way out to join ALEC when we know the Pope was just here because of...

Youngstown Schools file suit against the Ohio Department of Education to stop the implementation of an academic distress commission
Voters should ask WHY this plan was rushed into law under the cover of darkness. What clues point to the beneficiaries of this plan? Both Patrick O'Donnell of...

Great Lakes conference considers a range of threats
Your article states "Studies discovered over half of all PAHs found in the Great Lakes region come from a single source: Coal tar sealants.". I'm curious to whi...

ODOT awards Kent-based Davey Research Group nearly $50,000 to improve highway landscapes
This is an outrageous waste of taxpayer's money. Good for only Davey Tree and their cronies in the State government. It takes $50k to figure out the way to save...

Canton: another Northeast Ohio city is planning its comeback
Historic Ridgewood and the Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority have no seats at the table. Very flawed right out of the gate. Ridgewood pays a huge percentage...

Property owners oppose a wind farm in Northern Ohio
Here is a link, exposing the connivance of the fossil fuel industry, in trying to prevent us from moving away from their outdated, filthy, and expensive forms o...

A new industry in Ohio aims to repurpose river sediment
and where do those PCB's end up??the story never says

A safe space: How Northeast Ohio colleges try to fight sexual assault
Very good and thorough job on a very sensitive topic!

Akron police shoot and kill a man following a North Hill robbery
Was on scene when they was trying to bring him back to life he looked dead there before he ever got into ambulance

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University