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September 10, 2004

Not quite swingin', but...

Posted by Phil on September 10, 2004 3:07 PM

This is nothing but anecdotal, and likely won't mean a thing in the electoral college, but I've noticed a few campaign trends here in Indiana that are at least heartwarming and might even be, you know, noteworthy.

Indiana, some of you may know, has not given its electoral votes to a Democrat in 40 years. Who knows, maybe if Indiana had gone for Goldwater in '64, the sting of the conservatives' defeat might have been so eased that they wouldn't have gone raging into the wilderness to come roaring back on Reagan's shoulders and, arguably, gotten us into the pickle we're in now. Regardless, we've gone GOP in every election since. We have had Democratic senators and governors in the interim, as we do now, and currently the mayor of Indianapolis as well. So it's not a complete monomaniacal lock for the GOP, but you see my point.

My parents live in a pretty conservative suburb of Indianapolis, and since putting out a Kerry/Edwards yard sign they've gotten surprisingly positive (and voluntary) feedback from a handful of their neighbors.

I've found myself behind a few Kerry/Edwards bumperstickers--which, my car making two of us, amounts to a veritable Democratic parade in these parts.

And just today, while I was waiting in the Steak'n'Shake drive-thru (Chili 5-Way, baby), a heavy-set young guy with a crew cut climbed out of his minivan to approach my car and ask where I got my sticker. (I'll fess up to my narrow-mindedness and say this guy did not look like that's what he was going to ask me.) Of course I told him ("I donated online!") and wished him well. It was a swell feeling. To have this happen in Indianapolis--you can't imagine.

All this is just to say that, if it's happening here, it surely must be happening in places more warm to the Democratic view of things. Premature predictions of Kerry's demise are probably well taken (though he did OK on The Daily Show last night), and he certainly needs to set about articulating a plan in short, punchy phrases--not to mention show some stronger emotion than that goddamn bemused resignation Al Gore has affected since 2000.

But, still: People around here are mobilizing against the Republican incumbent, however modestly, and that's something I've never seen. (Maybe in Bloomington.) When I moved back from New York one month after 9/11, you'd have thought those towers fell here. Flags and macho bumperstickers everywhere. To have experienced that day firsthand and then see all these expressions of what I took to be vicarious grief and rage--it was a weird time.

Whatever you call whatever 9/11 provoked outside the areas directly affected, it has been in full effect here. And there are still plenty of "W" stickers. And he'll probably carry the damn state.

But, still. I don't feel so much like a stranger in a strange land, and it gives me some hope for the real swing states.


PK: While I too continue to see a growing number of Kerry/Edwards stickers, it's the growing number of "W '04" ones that really cause me to stop and think. It's so damn disappointing to see an attractive young woman driving down the road with a "W" sticker on the backside of the ride. I feel like jumping out and asking/saying, "This is your dad's car, right?" It's almost as bad as spying a passing beauty, and speeding up to get another look only to find her choking down a cancer stick.

Posted by: Mikal at September 11, 2004 3:25 PM