Getting Out The Vote

Tonight I did something that I have never been motivated to do before. I volunteered to work the phone bank for the Republican Party in their 72-Hour Blitz campaign to “get-out-the-vote.” I must admit I went into the night with a bit of apprehension, but four hours later I felt invigorated having been a small cog in the massive gears of the political machine.

So how does this relate to being a sportsman? Well, check out some of my past blog entries that hopefully detail my passion for how the Bush/Cheney ticket is the proper choice for folks who enjoy the shooting sports and the outdoors.

If you’re like me…during most political seasons you just hate to get all those telephone calls urging you to vote for this candidate or that one, or possibly taking a poll as to what issue is foremost on your mind. After awhile you almost hate to answer the phone because you just know it will be another political call.

Nevertheless, I try to look at political phone calls as a necessary evil. We live in a great country where it’s possible to vote, and as such it is also possible to influence your friends and neighbors into following your political ideology. I know there are those people who absolutely hate politics—my fiancé, for instance, is just such a person. Indeed, the politicking begins too early and gets way too intense for most of these people.

Tonight, as I said, I donated four hours of my time to the local Republican Party in Rice County, Minnesota. I sat down with a script of what to say in one hand, a list of people to call on the table in front of me, and a telephone in the other hand. My task…to call as many people as possible urging them to get out to vote tomorrow, encouraging them to vote for their republican candidates (nationally and locally), and assisting them in locating their proper polling place.

In the process I met two incredibly interesting people who traveled from Washington D.C. to assist locally with the effort. Both of these individuals took vacation from their regular government jobs to assist wherever the need was determined to be greatest. Because Minnesota is one of the highly touted “swing states” they were here assisting with the voting effort. They were tirelessly doing whatever it took to ensure Minnesota had a positive outcome for the Republican candidates.

Larry Farnsworth was one of the individuals who serves as a press assistant to Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Essentially Larry’s main job function was that of speech writer for the Speaker. The other individual was Mike Sanders who was on loan from the U.S.D.A. working in that department’s press communications area to ensure that rural development programs get the proper media coverage.

Both of these gentlemen were very helpful during my stint on the telephones where I probably called close to 120 people. As you might imagine, even with a sampling of calls this size, the experiences were quite interesting. Hang-ups, no answers, voice mail…a little of everything. An elderly gentleman even went off on me calling me gay and spewing forth some argument about homosexuals (I was never really sure if he supported it or despised it). In any case, I did help several people locate their polling places as they were confused on where to go.

As I reflect back on the experience I most definitely feel that if you are passionate about politics you need to experience the old fashioned phone bank. We are learning that this year success is going to be about moving the party’s base of voters to the polls. I just hope that with the hundred or so calls I made this evening…the people I spoke to are motivated enough to vote tomorrow at the polls.

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.