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

Knight Foundation

The Holden Arboretum

Lehmans


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
Commentary




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


 
Courtesy of ROBERT SUSTERSIC
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
Name:

Location:

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


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Local Ebola concerns cause officials to pay more attention to West Africa
I have a better idea, let's secure our borders and spend those billions of dollars on our own first.

HUD and Cuyahoga Land Bank extend a housing deal for another year
Need to sale lot, and would like to know how to contact someone to see if they may be interested in the property that sat between two lots. If you can give me...

Akron Beacon Journal details abuse claims against televangelist Angley
In the early 90's I went forth for pray. And the man was anointed by the hand of God. Just a fact I will never forget

Lawmaker questions why a million voters didn't get absentee applications
He's a damn lie! I vote n all elections. I missed 1. Haven't gotten my absentee ballot and their making it hard to get one.

Thirsty Dog Brewery warns it might have to leave Akron
Why is it the city's responsibility to find this guy a location? There are a hundred realestate companies that could help him.

Kent State sends home three after contact with second Ebola-stricken nurse
Why weren't all health workers who were around Duncan quaranteened for 21 days and tested for Ebola? That's a no-brainer. Why was Vinson allowed to travel right...

New book says Willoughby Coal is haunted...and that's good for business
Would love to see a series of books that would just thrill me. I cannot wait to visit some of the locations. And revisit some of the locations I have already vi...

Cleveland Indians to continue with 'dynamic pricing'
pricing is too high for a family as well as people like me who are on a fixed income. Bleacher seats are cheaper but concessions are rediculous.

Kasich talks about faith, drugs and education -- but never FitzGerald
The idea that you can learn more by talking to a 90 year old person than from a history book is just another example of how the GOP hates education and knowledg...

Third-grade charter school students fail state testing
A partisan anti-charter group came out with analysis that ODE says is based on incorrect data. So why is this a story? It doesn't seem to rise to WKSU's typic...

Copyright © 2014 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