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.

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.

Levin Furniture

Metro RTA


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

Ohio to appeal ruling keeping Akron's red light cameras in place
I don't understand what all the fuss is about. If you don't like tickets drive the speed limit and stop at red lights. It's really all up to you.

Who's on public assistance in Ohio?
legalize marijuana get over it,,, its here its been the main drug test scare of a lifetime. u got people that get drunk every night and work u got peoples on ...

Letters from a lost friend: A Beachwood survivor's Holocaust remembrance
What a great story -- and how important it was for both Marlene and her mother to tell it! Thank you.

Ohio lawmaker calls for an East Cleveland bailout
Instead of blaming Kasich and the Republicans for all of East Cleveland's fiscal woes, take a look at the facts. Some political entities in Ohio are too small ...

Legalized marijuana is a boon for a Cleveland-area grow light maker
Shouldn't he be in jail for paraphernalia? He knows he is selling for marijuana production.

Akron city council to vote on resolution for hiring ex-offenders
Great as a taxpayer I paid for the police to catch them, the free lawyer, the jail to house them , the food their kids eat the medical for them and all its goin...

5 of 8 rule headed for a vote
this is just another way for kasich to pass the buck and claim that it gives the local districts control. Few schools have enough money because of his cuts. T...

A passionate debate about parole in Ohio
I was heartened to hear that the legislators will consider ANY legislation to break the chains the parole board has put on these old law offenders who have serv...

Bill would allow Ohio religious leaders to refuse to do gay marriages
This is just a lot of political posturing. The free exercise clause of the 1st Amendment already protects clergy from being forced by civil authorities to perfo...

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