Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Father's Day": Tom Perriello for 5th District of Virginia, U.S. Congress

Listen to Vito Perriello's endorsement of his son: Priceless. Sphere: Related Content

SATURDAY BEFORE ELECTION DAY: Canvassing in Cumberland

Gold and orange trees with the streams of noonday sun marked the path as we moved into Cumberland County, Virginia: We had exited Interstate 64, swung South along Route 15, then east along the Rivanna River and south again into the small rural southern County of Cumberland, tucked between Prince Edward and Farmville to the South, now-largely suburban Goochland and Powhatan to the North and East, and Charlottesville-oriented Fluvanna to the West.

A lifelong Virginian, I'd seldom gone through Dixie or Columbia, Va., and I had never set foot in Cumberland Court House. Now friend Kate and I were searching for 40 or so undecided voters to urge them to vote for Obama, Warner and especially Tom Perriello for Congress, who as we found out, was probably the least well known.

At the first house, where someone was home, we met Bonnie, a 60-year-old white woman in front of her TV. Legally blind, she had already voted already as absentee.

"May we ask who you voted for?" I inquired.

"Obama" replied Bonnie. Then, her 82-year-old mother entered the room, eyes sparkling as she nodded that she too had voted for Obama.

Bonnie told us that Obama was the more thoughtful of the candidates, that McCain was just like Bush. "When he talks, his voice even sounds like Bush. I can't tell 'em apart," she said. Obama, she thought, was calmer, more presidential. She thinks he's the right one.

Bonnie had lived her entire life in this house in Cumberland.

A little later, I walked a flyer up to a house that I thought was empty. But Joe came outside. A 64-year old retired cop from Virginia Beach, he said he (and his wife) are among the one out of 7 who are undecided. "I'll decide on Monday," he said. He likes Obama but is worried about having a unified Congress and President. He does not like Nancy Pelosi so I steered the conversation back to how Obama would be good for the county, could unify and direct Congress, working across the aisle.

"He can help us with the economy," I argued. "John McCain hasn't been interested in economic issues and has even said at times that economics is not his cup of tea."

Joe nodded, he was truly undecided and he wanted to talk -- I didn't try to disabuse him of his prejudices about Pelosi. He was mad at Mark Warner because he raised taxes but seemed supportive of him as senator. He did say that he and his wife would be voting for Tom Perriello.

"Virgil Goode has been there too long," he said.

When I returned to the car, Kate said she was sorry she wasn't there with me. "I think I'm being a political therapist," I said. "People want to talk. They want someone to listen to their concerns."

Later, we wended our way along a path back to a small farm where we met the mother of a home-schooled child who told us she was voting for Obama but didn't know much about the others. We looked at her pet mule and the goats she no longer milks because her daughter is a vegan. Leaving the farm, we stopped at a whimsical wooden staircase rising up to a platform among the trees.

In a small enclave of houses in the country, we met a young African American male, who was just chilling in his yard. He couldn't vote, he said. While we didn't ask, we assumed he had a conviction. Too late to get him re-enfranchised and registered this time.

Nearby lived his aunt, a 92-year-old African-American woman. She is voting for Obama. "I loved Kennedy," she said. "I loved that man." She was unclear about the other candidates so we reminded her about Governor Mark Warner. Kate told her that Tom Perriello was cut from the same cloth, that Perriello and Warner and Obama represent a new generation of leaders. Tell your friends, we said, as we left our Perriello flyer.

As Kate drove us back toward Charlottesville, I leaned out the window taking photographs of the colors that flew past us in the diminishing light. This has been the most beautiful Fall ever.

Yes, and if we win on Tuesday, it will be even more beautiful than I could have imagined. Sphere: Related Content


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