Fair warning: In addition to believing that the title may increase readership, I thought it was catchy and it actually does relate to the diary but, to be clear, this diary is not about Hillary Clinton's whereabouts or her views on Iraq.
Okay, so I'm calling Pennsylvania today to help get out the vote for Barack Obama. Two calls of the 50 I've made so far today really stood out. both of them shook me up a bit, hence this diary.
I had gotten most of the way through my first block of phone numbers. A lot of busy signals for some reason -- I'm guessing some kind of phone circuitry or call volume issue since they were all to the same phone exchange.
I left a few messages reminding people about the primary today and had several actual conversations with PA voters.
The first call of note started something like this:
Me: "Hello, is Clinton there?"
PA household: May I ask who is calling?
Me: "I am a volunteer calling on behalf of Barack Obama's presidential campaign."
PA household: "Clinton is in Iraq."
More over the flip, as the bloggers like to say...
At that point, I let her know I was just calling to encourage people to get out and vote in the PA primary.
I didn't get the name of the woman who answered the phone, but it sounded like someone who might have been Clinton's mother. I had a brief conversation with her and she did report that she had voted for Senator Obama.
I don't remember everything we said, even though it was a short conversation. I expressed gratitude for Clinton's service, wished her a happy Earth Day and we closed on a pleasant note. Almost immediately after getting off the phone with her, I started to cry. "We have to stop this war," I thought as some tears rolled down my face. The thought of what that mother must be going through with her son over there hit suddenly and hard. I had started calling just to pitch in and help GOTV from home while my wife is off in PA volunteering with the campaign, but I wasn't expecting the emotional moment.
It hammered home one of the big reasons why what we are doing to elect Barack Obama is so important. To have the war ended by the only contender who was wise enough to oppose it before it even started.
Clinton is over there, away from his family and friends because George W. Bush and John McCain won't listen to the American people. About all I can do to try to keep Clinton from harm's way is participate in the election and try to get my chosen candidate elected.
As if that call wasn't enough, a while later, as I was sitting in front of my computer, my phone rang. It turned out to be a guy who I had called earlier, but who wasn't there and I had left a message. He took the time to call me back and told me that, he would love to vote, but that he was in Iraq.
I don't know if he had some sort of special phone or maybe he was just checking his voicemail and was able to figure out my number due to Vonage or something like that. Anyway, I was completely unprepared. He asked a question about voting absentee, but I'm sure it's too late to do that. After a brief and awkward conversation, the call ended.
I have been thinking about what I should have said to him and I am still stuck for words. I'm still mad at myself for telling this person to "stay safe." As if he has any say in where he goes or what mission falls to himself and the others in his unit. I don't know why he didn't respond with "hey there guy calling from the comfort of his own home, that's great advice. Stay safe -- what a good idea, why didn't I think of that? Hey, by the way, while I'm taking your advice and staying safe, should anyone else over here do the same?" I guess it was just one of those phrases that gets voiced by part of the autonomic nervous system or something, but I felt like an idiot after getting off the phone.
Of course, I really don't know if either Clinton or the other guy have military jobs that actually put them in harm's way or not but I figure, if you are anywhere in Iraq, that definitely qualifies regardless of what you are doing.
I don't know that I have a point to make here -- all I can say is that I started feeling reflective after these two conversations and came here to write about it.
If there is a point to make, let it be this: to borrow some phrasing from a great American statesman, if there is a child somewhere who is getting a poor education, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. Likewise, if there are two men in Iraq that I have never met before and they shouldn't be there, that matters to me, even if it's not my war because we are connected. I am my brother's keeper, I am my Clinton's keeper.
As I post this, there are about 2.5 more hours until the polls close in Pennsylvania. The polls are open until 8pm and registered voters have the right to vote as long as they are in line by 8pm.
If there is any more vote to get out today, let's go and get it.