Monday, September 15, 2008

Canvassing and Expanding

New Mexico is certainly it's own place. Sky, vistas and dry air dominate so much how it feels to be here. That's obvious. Then there's the art and architecture, distinctively and sometimes overly Southwest. But when you spend some time here, look past the presentation and meet these people, hang out in their places, a character emerges. They are unapologetically unsophisticated, behind-the-times, dusty, rusty, complicated and strangely charming. Certainly California and New York have changed this place, but only a small part of it. Most New Mexico remains an intersection between, in order of domination, White, Latino and Native American cultures and subcultures. There are few Asian and African-Americans. Rough edges and tensions abound but largely go unspoken (the state motto being "Crescit eundo", "It goes as it goes"). Still, all seem to share the love of this land and sky.

We all know by know that politically, New Mexico is deep purple. Anti-BLM property-rights ranchers, off-the-grid hippies, retired Chicago businessmen, Hollywood expats, Mexican pro-America middle class, white born-again Christians ... there all here and sometimes it's hard to guess which of the two major parties any individual will align with, if either. It's in this context that we're trying to get the message across: "You're vote really counts. Look hard at the issues and positions. See past the lies and fear-mongering."

I had this little concern as I drove across the country that I wouldn't end up with much to do for the campaign. Well that was clearly wrong as I'm having trouble making time for much else. At the moment, I'm helping in the northeast region of Albuquerque as well as the "East Mountains" to organize weekend canvassing and voter registration. The voter registration effort is currently dominant with only a few weeks before the deadline of October 7th (Hey Reader, Are you registered?). So I'm helping to coordinate sites, events, and deputized registrars all in an effort to expand the Obama-leaning voter base. (Due to past abuses, in order to register voters in the state of New Mexico, one has to be deputized by the county, a mere two hour training.) We have over 175 deputized volunteers in our area and many target sites, so the effort is a lot of communication, placement and where needed, getting permission from site owners and walk the line of non-partisanship.

Belly BobThe newly opened East Mountain Obama office had their first open house last Sunday. There the guest-of-honor wasn't so much Martin Heinrich, candidate for New Mexico's 1st congressional district, but "Belly Bob" the donkey. Belly Bob gave good rides.

And, yes, Corky's "Dead or Republican" joke was a hit.