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On Tuesday, one day after the worst of Hurricane Sandy and one week before Election Day, I received an email from Republican VP candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, inviting me to phone bank for the Romney-Ryan ticket.
Me! The feminist who “won’t vote for Romney or anyone who embraces a fundamentalist interpretation of women’s rights and roles.” A liberal woman phone banking for Romney? Not!
After returning my bottom jaw to a respectable distance from the upper, I enjoyed a moment of wonderment at the thought that the Romney-Ryan campaign might be naïve enough to assume every person who signs up for their campaign emails is a supporter.
Silly boys. Or perhaps it’s desperation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the growing awareness of indications that Ryan would like to slash FEMA’s budget and Romney would like to privatize the agency — wouldn’t that make a mess of recovery efforts!
Regardless, I’m from the South, and one mustn’t spurn a social engagement out of spite, so I emailed Rep. Ryan the following tactful response:
Dear Rep. Ryan,
Thank you for the lovely invitation! I'm honored to be included, and I would be delighted to make get-out-the-vote calls, although I suspect my phone script might differ from yours. Nonetheless, I'll be there with bells on — figuratively speaking!
Then I registered online as a volunteer, received an immediate affirmative response from Romney’s campaign, logged onto the campaign’s phone-bank system, and started calling — the apparent goal, to encourage voters in Nevada to vote early.
The first phone number went to a FAX machine. That was a tad disappointing. I coded it as a wrong number and went on to the next.
The second number appeared to be for either a lesbian couple or maybe two sisters (same last name). Given the source of the phone list, I was curious to find out, but no one picked up, so I said in my most cheery phone voice:
“Hi, this is Kit-Bacon. I’m calling to encourage you to get out and vote for President Obama next Tuesday. Thank you for your vote — goodbye!”
The third phone number was for a Gregory, but the woman who answered was quite clear that no Gregory lived there and that she had already told this to all the other people phoning for him. I apologized profusely, despite knowing full well that the error was Romney and Ryan’s, because that’s what my dear, darling mother taught us to do. However, I let the woman know that I was calling at the Romney campaign’s behest; I’d rather she be perturbed with him than Obama.
I understood her annoyance, but it was really quite awkward for me to have to clean up Romney’s mess, something I suspect the entire nation — including hurricane victims — would be doing for years, if he were to be elected.
But back to the phoning, which was proving to be less fun than I had anticipated. I decided to make one more call to see if someone might be available to actually chat about the candidates.
Alas, Cindy was not home. I forsook the script, left her a jouncy message about voting for President Obama and logged off the phone system.
I’ll make some more calls before the election, certainly not during the dinner hours, but still, later in the day when folks are likely to be home — unless Rep. Ryan rescinds my invitation. He has committed worse faux pas than that (for example, this), so it certainly is possible. It might give me the vapors, though.
In the meantime, if you have an unseemly desire to toy with the Romney-Ryan campaign, you can click here to volunteer. It’s a fairly facile online system — just ignore the phone script — and I’m sure the Democrats will want to thank Gov. Romney kindly for the use of his voter list.
Romney might be an elitist, but at least he learned to share in kindergarten. Not!
Kit-Bacon Gressitt's commentary and political fiction can be read on her blog Excuse Me, I'm Writing and is republished by SDGLN, The Ocean Beach Rag and The Progressive Post. She formerly worked for the North County Times. She is also host of Fallbrook's monthly Writers Read open mic and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.