Bring It On…Please?
My Frustrations With The Increasingly Inept Kerry Campaign

Over the month since the end of the Republican National Convention, we’ve been seeing President Bush apparently pull ahead of Senator Kerry in the race for the White House. Kerry’s campaign to unseat Bush and restore honor and dignity to the White House has been frustrated by the Bush campaign’s repeated accusations of flip-flopping (which are bullshit, by the way, as I’ll explain in a future column) and Kerry’s apparent inability to articulate a clear message that voters can understand. Apparently, voters still don’t know what Kerry stands for on issues such as Iraq, even though Kerry made a major speech outlining his plan for Iraq at New York University. Part of this has to do with the media’s failure to actually tell people what the plan was – I never saw any coverage of the speech’s actual content – but it also has to do with the Kerry’s obsession with being anti-Bush.

As E.J. Dionne Jr. put it in his book Stand Up Fight Back (a brilliant work, by the way), “Democrats are obsessed with telling people who they are not. As a result, no one knows who they are.” No Democrat has better exemplified this major problem than John Kerry has. Granted, he is running against an incumbent President so it has to be a referendum on that President’s performance, but there’s no reason why Kerry and Democrats can’t attack the President and articulate their own alternatives. They haven’t been doing the second part effectively, and when they do the media doesn’t cover it. So why doesn’t the Kerry campaign hammer the media for not covering it? Hey, the media gave in to the conservatives’ charge of bias; there’s no reason it wouldn’t give in to the liberals’ charge of incompetence.

Moreover, there is no core message that the Kerry campaign has been able to deliver – or if they have, the public hasn’t caught on. There’s no fundamental philosophical debate in this election – just a choice between (as most undecided voters see it) Bush’s arrogance and stubbornness or Kerry’s vacillating opportunism. Bush keeps on slamming Kerry for flip-flopping and makes the case that Kerry is too weak and lacking of conviction to be President – a devastating argument considering that most Americans are scared of their own shadow these days. And for the most part he’s gotten away with it. The flip-flopping charges are bogus, and Bush himself is quite the flip-flopper. If Kerry can make that case, and the case that he has had a consistent position on Iraq and other issues (and he has) then that would not only strengthen his own standing but would shatter the utter and complete myth that President Bush is a strong and decisive leader. If that could happen, Kerry would have the election sealed – but it hasn’t, as poll numbers indicate.

In less than an hour, Kerry will face Bush in the first presidential debate, which is on foreign policy. Due to the absurd rules of the debate, Kerry won’t be able to directly address questions at Bush. But I’ve got some questions for Kerry:

  1. Why haven’t you been able to frame a simple, philosophical message for you and the Democratic Party that voters can carry in their hearts or on a Post-It note? If you need some help, here’s one I came up with: I’m for a strong, smart federal government that acts on the public interest at home and works with the rest of the world abroad. This message is kind of similar to your “Stronger At Home, Respected In The World” theme, except it doesn’t sound so much like sappy platitudes.
  2. Why haven’t you been able to effectively offer Democratic alternatives to Bush’s policies of ruin? You’ve done a good job of pounding home that the Bush Presidency has been, to quote Rep. Richard Gephardt, “a miserable failure”. (Except in a few areas, which I’ll get to a minute) But this election can’t just be anti-Bush; it has to be pro-Kerry too. Just ask Ronald Reagan, who was behind in the polls with President Carter in 1980 because people were unhappy with Carter but wasn’t sure Reagan could do any better. Right now a lot of people are supporting Bush not because they like him but because they think you aren’t any better. Tell them you’re better and why! Considering how incompetent Bush is, it shouldn’t be too hard to do!
  3. Why did you allow the Swift Boat Idiots For Bullshit to ruin your campaign? You were going strong after you convention at the end of July. You were running ahead of Bush in all the national polls – by eight points in some polls. Then the Swift Boat Jackasses came along to dither on a war that happened thirty-five years ago. Why didn’t you just use the same line that Bush uses, that because of your honorable discharge there can be no question that you served honorably. Just say to the Boat Bullies: “Look, I served in Vietnam honorably; I got more medals in that war than you’ve got brain cells in your skull; I got honorably discharged. I came home and I protested the war because I truly felt that the war was wrong and I decided to stick by my guns. So shut the fuck up.” Why couldn’t you have said that? (Okay, maybe not the last line, but you know what I mean.) Instead the Swift Boat Idiots got their line in when they should’ve been booed off the stage.
  4. Why haven’t you been able to articulate your position on Iraq? This has been your weakest point; in fact the Bush campaign won’t even consider your constructive ideas anymore. Like a wind-up doll they respond to every question on Iraq with, “Well, Senator Kerry’s had [insert double-digit number here] positions on Iraq!” Come on, even I understand your position on Iraq, and if a dumbass like me can, so can the other dumbasses that’ll decide this election this fall.
  5. Why haven’t you been talking more about homeland security? In my September 11 2004 column I made the case that the Republicans have neglected homeland security, making it their Achilles’ heel; even better, Democrats have been strong on the issue. But I haven’t heard you ever saying anything to that effect. Even Bill Clinton made that case better than you did, when at the Democratic National Convention he framed the election as a choice between Bush’s tax cuts for the rich and, among other things, more container inspections at seaports. Do you really want your supporters to yearn for Clinton again? Come on – I know you can do better. If you want more details talk to James Carville; he’s the one who gave me the idea in the first place.
  6. Why haven’t you been talking more about taxes and the budget? I seriously feel like we’re letting the Republicans own us on this issue that should really be ours. We have a simple plan when it comes to the budget: We need to preserve domestic spending and programs. Not increase or expand them – though I’d really like that – because of budgetary realities, but if we can’t increase or expand them the least we can do is maintain them at a good level, say, where they were during the Clinton years. That is your stance, right? And then that’s your cue to launch into how great domestic programs are and how the Republicans keep shortchanging or outright gutting them, and how the Democrats want to maintain and, later on when things get better, expand them. That’ll help not only you but other Democrats running in races across the nation. And about taxes – why haven’t you tucked the Bush tax lies to bed? They lie about their own tax proposals. They lie about your tax proposals. Put those lies where they belong. One of the Democrats’ greatest weaknesses is that uninformed voters keep thinking we’re out to steal their money through tax hikes up the wazoo. You need to make the case that we’re not, and that Bush, by sponsoring the most fiscally irresponsible policies in recent history, is. Which reminds me, why the hell haven’t you been talking about the deficit? The deficit is Bush’s other Achilles’ heel because it unites moderate, fiscally conservative Republicans with liberal Democrats in opposition to Bush’s fiscal policies. Imagine if we can pierce the heart of Bush’s base and depressing his base’s turnout if we use the deficit as a bludgeoning club against him.
  7. Why haven’t you brought it on? When you were running in the primaries, you confidently challenged Bush to “bring it on”. Well, he brought it on all right – and you withstood the assault with all the testicular fortitude of a headless chicken. Put some spine in your sails, please, or else you’ll be condemned to a lifetime of windsurfing instead of ruling the country from the White House.
  8. Why haven’t you asked voters to help elect a Democrat Congress? You’ll sure as hell need one if you win this election. I know you’re trying to woo a lot of undecided and moderate Republican voters who may not be able to stomach the idea of voting for a Democratic President and Congressmember, but chances are those voters would be in fairly moderate areas anyway, so the Democrat would be moderate too. If not, phrase the Democrats’ positions in a positive light (which shouldn’t be hard, since they’re already pretty positive) and we should be able to shatter some political boundaries and get the Democratic Congress we – and you – so desperately need.
  9. Senator, I know I’ve been harsh and I apologize, but you have to realize how frustrated and just worried I am. I really want you to become President – I think we see eye to eye on most issues and I really don’t think the United States can survive, let alone tolerate, another four years of Bush – and perhaps four more years of another Republican that may be more likely to occur if the Republicans cement their lock on power. It’s just that you need to do some of the things I’ve just talked about here. And you really should hire James Carville and Paul Begala – and E.J. Dionne too. If not, at least read their books. I especially recommend Had Enough? by James Carville and Stand Up Fight Back by E.J. Dionne. They’ll get you into the fighting spirit; I recommend that you re-read them before each debate so you can have the adrenaline pumping by the time you get on stage with Bush. And while we’re on the topic of books, read Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken; it’ll give you a good laugh. If you’ve already read any of these books, then that’s just great and I’m glad we have similar taste in books!

Well, I’m off to watch you debate Bush now. Go get him.

More evidence on the Republicans’ lack of interest in homeland security.  Dig down to the last six paragraphs of the article.

Here’s the vote the article refers to. 

My comments on the vote:  I was half-pleased, half-disappointed to see that Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) voted for the homeland security funds – one of only two Republicans to do so. (The other was Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (Tex.).)  Pleased because, of course, I think homeland security is important and Sen. Specter was courageous for standing up to his own party and voting with the Democrats.  Disappointed because this will make ousting him in November all the more difficult.

Not so surprisingly, Senator Zell Miller (D-Ga.) voted against the funds – one of three Democrats to do so. (I guess he found time off from campaigning for President Bush.)  It’s sad that this once-decent Democrat would put his loyalty to the Republicans above the security of this country.

The other two Democrats that voted against the funds were Senators Thomas Carper (Del.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.).  Sen. Carper’s treason I can understand, but Sen. Conrad?  What a shame.

Big Government Democrats
Democrats are big governmentalists? Damn straight.

The Bush campaign’s latest attack on Democratic presidential candidate Senator John F. Kerry (Mass.) is patently absurd. According to this article from The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, the Bushies are actually slamming Kerry’s health care plan as, yes, big government. The ad goes as follows:

“The liberals in Congress and Kerry’s plan: Washington bureaucrats in control. A government-run health care plan. $1.5 trillion price tag. Big government in charge. Not you. Not your doctor.”

Of course, the ad is untrue in several places to begin with, as the article details. And it’s interesting that the ad uses the word “liberals” rather than, say, “Democrats”. (Beating up on the “L-word” again? How pathetic.) But neither of those points fall on my line of attack – it’s the description as a whole. With the exception of the false accusation of “Big government in charge. Not you. Not your doctor.”, I look at that description and think, “All right!”

See, ever since the – to mimic Bill O’Reilly – “quasi-anarchist” President Ronald Reagan, Republicans have been marshaling on the anti-government rhetoric. Their actions have been anti-government for far longer – dating back to President William McKinley in 1897 – but under Republican Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford, they toned down the sharp attacks on the federal government. But under the Reagan banner, Republicans chanted the Gipper’s mantra – government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem – and used it to execute electoral coups in 1980, 1984, and 1994.

But is the “big government” charge really that bad? I support big government in the sense of an active federal government, using its power and Constitutional duty to help make this country a better place. And so do just about all Democrats. I support a government-run health care plan, yes, because it’s the government’s responsibility to make sure every American can see a doctor and get treatment without losing their life savings. I was blessed to have had a relatively doctor-free life, and a generous health insurance plan, but not everyone is as fortunate as I am. Why shouldn’t the government step in and make sure that everyone has health insurance? It’s not just a matter of the rising costs of health care, or the growing number of Americans without definite insurance – 44 million and counting. It’s all that, and the fact that government has the resources, duty and public-minded temperament to deal with the issue of health care – not to mention just about every broad-based, nationally ubiquitous public need and want.

Why leave something like health care to private companies? The federal government is there to look out for the common good – if they don’t do that, they’ll get ousted from office come next election. A private firm is there to look out for its own bottom line – not to mention enrich the pockets of the CEO – so they are motivated by greed, unlike the government, which is motivated by the public interest. When you entrust something as essential as health care – or energy, or transportation, or any other nationally wanted asset – to private companies, these companies, motivated by greed, will do anything to make money, including screwing over the public if necessary. That’s why before Medicare, less than half of the USA’s elderly population had health insurance; why would any company want to cover old geezers who are liable to die at any second? It isn’t profitable. For the government, its “profit” is the livelihood of its citizens; so yes, for the government, covering all Americans, young and old, is profitable. And that, my friends, is big government in action – holding government to its duty to promote the common interest of the nation and its people.

And it’s not just health care. The Democrats’ laundry list of issues that the federal government should be responsible goes well beyond health care – you can see that list in “Crunching The Numbers Part II” (August 28 2004) and “My Vision For Government” (July 9 2004). Basically, we Democrats do support an active government that takes care of public needs and wants. Note that Democrats do not necessarily support a big government in terms of actual size – if we can do more for less, we’ll do it. If we need more for more, then we’ll pay the price. And note that we Democrats want to address public needs and wants – unlike the Republicans, we don’t want to bother with people’s sex lives or marriages.

I stand foursquare behind this ideology – you can substitute my name for any place in this column where the word “Democrats” appears. And, unlike Senator Kerry, I make no apologies for big government, big activity, and big ideas. Kerry, unfortunately, has been scurrying away from the big government charge. Why? Embrace it, Senator! Who knows, maybe you can even turn it around and use it against the GOP boneheads peddling this charge. Those who say big government is a losing position forget that, in the mid 1990’s, the Republicans picked a fight with big government – and lost. Big time. So forget this “centrist” and “politically safe” bullshit – embrace big government, big activity, and big ideas! I leave you all – and Senator Kerry in particular – with these words from Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr., from his awesome book, Stand Up Fight Back:

“Progressives and Democrats clearly favor a rather large government when it comes to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education spending, environmental, worker, civil rights, and consumer protection. There is nothing here that requires apologies. Progressives don’t have to defend themselves against charges that they favor the government takeover of private business because they are proposing no such thing. And they have always defended individual liberty against government incursions…There is nothing wrong with favoring a strong and active government that operates within limits. You might even say that this is the American Way.” [emphasis added]

So am I in favor of big government? Damn right I am.

Jackpot! I Found The Republicans’ Achilles’ Heel!
How Republicans Are WEAK On Homeland Security – And How It’s Our (Democrats’) Greatest Strength

I know, I know – this might seem like the strangest title for a piece on homeland security. I know it must also be the most political and partisan one you’ve ever seen. But trust me, I wouldn’t be so giddy if things hadn’t looked grim for us Democrats this past week. Actually, that’s a lie; never mind.

What is true is that as Democratic presidential candidate Senator John F. Kerry (Mass.) faces an onslaught of attacks on Vietnam and how he’s “weak on defense”, Kerry has been advised to shift focus onto domestic issues, where he is supposedly stronger. For the most part he is, but there is one domestic issue in particular where Republicans are especially weak, Democrats are especially strong – and best of all, it ties in with this country’s defense. Yes, it’s homeland security. (And yes, I fully realize that today happens to be the three-year anniversary of September 11… makes it all the more fitting, wouldn’t you say?)

Before I go any further let me say that I have consistently treated homeland security as a domestic issue – and an important one at that. After all, I believe that the federal government’s responsibility is to keep this country safe and prosperous – and being strong on homeland security does just that, since Americans aren’t really safe and prosperous if they’re being attacked. “It’s not that I don’t care about protecting this country; indeed, defending the country is one of the most noble and righteous causes the federal government can be asked to take on, and that’s why I support increased funding for the Department of Homeland Security (preferably with funds that would have gone to Defense instead).” (From this Xanga’s “Crunching The Numbers Part II”, August 28 2004)

Now that we’ve gotten that aside, let me first explain how Republicans are weak on this issue. Democratic strategist extraordinaire James Carville laid out the sordid details in his book, Had Enough?, in which he lists twenty five examples where Republican President George W. Bush and Congressional Republicans (I’m putting Republicans in bold for a reason, by the way) underfunded and undermined homeland security, in the form of either the Department itself or in the form of security functions done through other federal government bodies. This egregious shirking of responsibility spans a time period from November 2001 to June 2003. Space constraints and general laziness prevent me from posting all these examples, but you can see for yourself by reading Chapter 1 (“Homeland Security”) of Had Enough? – specifically, pages 40 to 43 in the hardcover edition.

And then of course, President Bush opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to begin with – he only changed his mind (in other words, flip-flopped) after he realized how much popular support there was for it.

Carville, as always, offers his own, Democratic Party-type solutions to homeland security, largely taking the form of more funding, training, intercommunication, equipment, and technology for port and border security, other modes of transit (like roads, bridges, tunnels, etc.), multilevel infrastructure protection, law enforcement, health officials, security agents, and first responders (like firefighters and police), increased cargo inspections, and protection against surface-to-air missile attacks on commercial airliners. I agree with all these proposals; the only one on which Carville and I disagree is where he proposes to protect high-profile private sector facilities, like power plants, by requiring such facilities to carry terrorism insurance. Carville reasons that plants would have a “free market incentive” to make their plants safer because such precautions would lower their insurance rates. In my opinion, that makes some sense but I would prefer to have the federal government provide protection for these private sector facilities directly. After all, it is the federal government’s role to keep the country safe, and that role includes keeping power plants and other private facilities safe from attack.

Now, on to the political side of things. Republicans have long argued that Kerry is “weak on defense”, and that they, and their man Bush, are the best people to keep the USA safe. But, vóila, it appears that we Democrats are the ones who are STRONG on homeland security, and they (Republicans) are WEAK. Increased homeland security funding over the past few years, the Republicans have – as any quick check with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities confirms – but it obviously wasn’t enough, and for FY2004 they reduced homeland security funding! Amazing! And we Democrats were the ones who fought for the DHS (while Bush opposed it, before he supported it) as well as for increased funds, training, equipment, and so on, for the DHS as well as for homeland security functions carried out by other government bodies such as the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Nuclear Security Administration. Republicans have opposed us every step of the way. We Democrats are strong on homeland security, and the Republicans are weak – and we can’t forget it this year, or any year.

So my hope is that Senator Kerry and Democrats running for office at all levels emphasize this – repeatedly – for the remainder of the campaign season as well as in the years to come. We have, I believe, found the Republicans’ Achilles’ heel – so close to the heart of their campaign. This year, they, as they did in the last national election in 2002, exploited the tragic events that occurred three years ago and used it as a façade under which they have pretended to have the nation’s security at heart. But on this issue, as with so many others, they have turned out to be nothing more than fakes – bloody awful fakes – and it’s time we exposed them for what they are. And it’s time we Democrats proudly point to OUR record on homeland security and use it to win some elections – so that once we’re back in power, we can implement our ideas and make the United States of America safer for all.

Here’s a Table of Contents to make it easier to find specific columns.  I will update this from time to time.

liberalmaverick’s Xanga Table of Contents I

Opening Message (basically, what the hell am I doing here?): June 15, 2004
My introduction to my Xanga and why I betrayed my own principles to create and use it in the first place.

Another in-depth glance at politics (Why You Should Care About Politics): June 20, 2004
The first of my three El Estoque columns, telling teens to get concerned.

Media: it’s time to give us real news: June 23, 2004
The second of my three El Estoque columns, bashing the media for playing to sensationalism and unimportant nonsense – and the public for buying it hook, line, and sinker.

donkey vs. elephant: June 28, 2004
The third of my three El Estoque columns, explaining to political newbies the differences between the U.S. Republican and Democratic Parties. And it’s fair and balanced (though if I had it my way the difference would be simple: Republicans suck, Democrats (mostly) rock.).

My Vision For Government: July 9, 2004
A fat-ass document outlining liberalism, Democratic Partyism, and all-in-all political Kennethism. My personal political platform, which is where I stand, where I think most liberals and Democrats stand, and where we all should continue standing.

Summer 2004 Update I: July 21, 2004
The first of what promises to be many summer updates detailing how much my summer rocks and stinks – at the same time! This one talks about Calc woes.

Summer 2004 Update II: July 23, 2004
Working out and this one girl that’s been really giving me heartache lately.

Summer 2004 Update III: July 26, 2004
July 25 San Francisco trip.

Princes For Paupers: July 28, 2004
Rich Democrats Are Still Good For Working Stiffs

Summer 2004 Update IV: August 22, 2004
Summer 2004 closes with the hectic month of August.

Crunching The Numbers Part I: August 24, 2004
The Republicans Screw Up – Big Time

Crunching The Numbers Part II: August 28, 2004
A Democratic Fiscal Policy For A Democratic Era

End Of An Era: August 31, 2004
A final look back at my ten days with Environment California.

End Of An Era

Environment California’s summer campaign to pass stronger ocean protection laws at the state level came to an end on Friday.  (Yeah, I know, it’s been four days already, but hey, I was busy.)  In case you’ve forgotten or just don’t know, Environment California was the group I worked for as a door-to-door canvasser/fundraiser for ten days over the past three weeks.  (See Summer 2004 Update IV, August 22 2004) As I explained in that last entry, the change of hours, the end of the campaign, and my general exhaustion with the job led me to leave once the campaign ended.

I think I’ll miss it.

Ten days might not seem like much of an “era”, but it was over three weeks (I didn’t work three days the first week and two the second) and moreover, because the job was so exhausting and ran from 1 to 10 at night, each day felt like a year.  I would usually get to the job any time between 12:30 and 1:30 PM, though I had school the last week so I had to arrive a little later.  Usually the office (a large room on the second floor of a cramped suite in downtown Berkeley) would be virtually empty when I got there, except for a few Environment California stalwarts, so I would just mill around or help out with paperwork until more people arrived.  Then we would prepare for the day’s work by going through role-plays, where we practice our message and work on delivery and such.

At around 1:45, we would all gather around to hear the daily annoucements.  Usually they were given by a Field Manager (more on that later) named April, and started off with summary results of the work done the previous day, during the week, and during the entire summer thus far.  Then it would move on to Hot Nights, special designations for nights when individuals raised more than $200.  Normally, people are expected to raise an average of $100 or more a night, but that’s not as hard as it may seem because if a person signs on to our monthly plan, their monthly contribution is multiplied by 9 and the product is the number we use to determine our night’s totals. (9 months is the average duration of time that monthly contributors stay on.)  The catch is, monthly contributors are rare gems, and it’s almost impossible to make more than $200 without at least one.  Of my ten days, three were Hot Nights (each time I had one monthly), two were between $100 and $200, and five were less than $100.  So it ain’t exactly easy.

After the Hot Nights stuff we would lay out the day’s plans and divide ourselves into different crews, each one led by an FM (Field Manager), who’d coordinate canvassars, lay out “turfs” (designated areas for us to canvass), and generally act as the boss out in the field.  We canvassed alone; each canvasser was given a specific turf to do so as to avoid canvassing the same place multiple times.  FM’s were not my direct superiors, however.  My actual bosses were the two Canvass Directors, Sierra and Matt, whom I must say are the nicest first bosses I could have ever asked for.  And no, I’m not sucking up to them because I don’t think they even know about this Xanga. (If they’re reading this, hey Sierra and Matt!)

Once the crews were set and the destinations laid out, we would all grab supplies and head on out to lunch.  Usually they were in these clean, nice-but-expensive marketplaces like Whole Foods and Berkeley Bowl.  After lunch, we would go to our turfs and canvass from roughly 4 to 9.  Basically, I went door-to-door, greeted people with a polite but urgent explanation of the plight of California’s sea waters and how we were pushing for stronger protections at the state level, and ask people to contribute to our group to help fund the effort.

I’d say that out of 75 doors knocked on/rung, only around 50 would even talk to me (the others were either never home or just refused to answer the door), and of those 50, only half (25) would actually hear me out (the rest would just cut me off before I could even finish).  Of those half, only 5 actually gave money – usually anywhere between $5 and $25 – and of those 5 only one would sign on to the monthly thing.  So, as you can tell, raising money wasn’t exactly easy, and so that’s why half my nights were in double digits.

My last night was the best.  I basically had a lunch of caffeine and chocolate (a triple shot venti iced hazelnut latte, a chocolate/espresso beans bar, and two pints of frappuccino).  The reason was that in the afternoons I’d always be sleepy and sluggish – due to having all that food in my stomach, and also the heat – and so not only was I not very efficient and thus getting to less doors, I would not be able to be all peppy and passionate, etc. etc.  So I needed all that energy – and during the first three hours it worked.  I managed to raise $64 before 6 PM – something I had never done before.  But then I went into slump, unable to raise anything for the next two and a half hours.  Oweing to poor performance in two previous nights that week, I had to raise $234 in order to meet my average and get a significant pay increase (the pay structure is somewhat complicated – don’t ask).  By 8:30, when I was due to be picked up, I still had only $64 – and I was seriously worried that I wouldn’t make it.  But then my last door was this nice young environmentalist gentleman named Paul who agreed to sign on as a monthly contributor, thus boosting my total to over $234.  Woo hoo!  It was funny too because I was so out-of-breath and anxious by the time I got to his door that I was giving my speech panting and stumbling.  He must have seen all the passion though, or maybe he really does care about the environment.  Or, most likely, both.  On the way out I was so excited that I dropped his check… oops.  Thankfully, I later came back and we found it.

This was my first job, and it not only taught me a lot about working and the environment in general, but it also showed me an inside look at grassroots nonprofit environment orgs (as Environment California was such a group) and the grueling and often frustrating work of a canvasser.  My family never got canvassed much, but the few times we did we would always turn them away, and sometimes we would just refuse to answer the door and watch as they walk away in defeat.  We never held a high opinion of door-to-door people, and we always were quite suspicious of why they were doing it or whether or not they were really legit.  No more.  I for one will always answer the door to a canvasser and at least hear what he/she has to say.  I know now what canvassers go though every day, because I went through it myself.  And even though the work wasn’t exactly fun and I constantly felt frustrated and disappointed, the cause I was working for, along with the awesome staff I had the privilege of working with, made the experience very much worthwhile.