Given the ugly tone of what I've been seing on television and in the blogs, I'd expected something much more depressing than the experience actually was. No one set the dogs on us -- I think being greeted by a father-daughter team with a clipboard was disarming for a lot of folks, and I was always careful to say I was a near neighbor. Only one woman closed the door on us with anything like asperity, and nearly everyone was unfailingly polite, even when saying they were voting for McCain. No racial slurs, no "socialism," nothing that I'd half-dreaded confronting.
We're nice folks in Lovettsville.
What did surprise me was the number of people -- well over two-thirds, in my estimate -- who told me they were as yet undecided. I don't how many were saying it because they didn't want to tell me who they were really voting for, and how many truly hadn't made up their minds. In retrospect, I'm glad I hadn't read David Sedaris' Shouts and Murmurs column from the latest New Yorker:
“Who are [the undecided]?” the news anchors ask. “And how might they determine the outcome of this election?”Probably best not to go canvasing with that image in your mind.
Then you’ll see this man or woman— someone, I always think, who looks very happy to be on TV. “Well, Charlie,” they say, “I’ve gone back and forth on the issues and whatnot, but I just can’t seem to make up my mind!” Some insist that there’s very little difference between candidate A and candidate B. Others claim that they’re with A on defense and health care but are leaning toward B when it comes to the economy.
I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?
To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”
To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.