Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Power Behind a Button: Taking Senator Kerry’s Message on the Road

Over the past year or more, as an internet activist for the Kerry campaign, I have met many wonderful people. Mary MacElveen earned my life long respect in my early months campaigning for John Kerry on many of the Democratic Yahoo Groups. And so with respect, I share with you all this essay from Mary:

The Power Behind a Button: Taking Senator Kerry’s Message on the Road

By Mary MacElveen

August 16, 2004

Buttons worn on any person tell what they are all about. Buttons can represent our more humorous side, or what our beliefs are, to those that are derogatory in nature.

Knowing that my family and I were headed on vacation, I decided to wear my “Kerry for President” button to make a statement to those that saw it, which direction I wanted for our beloved country. While I have other buttons, which mock George W. Bush where a red line goes across his face as well as a red line going through the letter W, I chose not to wear those, but only to promote Senator Kerry’s positive message. I wanted my message to represent him in only the best light and be reflective of his acceptance speech at our convention. I wanted a conversation with my fellow Americans that we who do support Senator Kerry also have a love of country and are patriotic as well. After all, this is our country too and we all have the right to disagree with her present course.

We were headed out by car to Colorado where our starting point was New York. We would have to go through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and then our final stop Colorado. Some are battleground states where others are red and blue states. My mission was to treat every American that I met along the way with respect and heighten their awareness of what is happening now in Washington, D.C. under Bush’s misguided leadership.

Our first full stop was in Ohio, where we needed to eat breakfast, where I bumped into a man named John who was a big burly guy and also a truck driver. He saw my button and immediately stated that he too was a “Kerry fan” and thought that George W. Bush was “just plain stupid, just like his father was” There was no having to convince this man of anything, only to keep talking to others to vote for Senator Kerry. It was then back on the road to take Sen. Kerry’s message westward bound.

Our next stop was for lunch in a small restaurant called Wings America, where on the way out again, a member from the CMA (Christian Motorcycle Association) wanted to discuss politics with me. He said while independent, he could go either way. Ah, my way in. So, I discussed jobs being shipped overseas, the need for all Americans to have medical care and for seniors to get affordable drugs here in America, and he said, he loved Kerry’s message and was disappointed with Bush. Again, I said, to relay what Senator Kerry is about to others along his way and he said he would.

But, not all people were receptive to Senator Kerry and one woman in Nebraska described him as looking like Frankenstein and I thought to myself, is this really the way people select their leaders? I could have said back to her, “Bush looks like a chimp” but refrained from doing so. It was at that point, where I really zeroed in on her and said, while Bush lied about WMD, close to one thousand soldiers have died and he has not attended one of their funerals. I was not about to let her thinking stay as it was without it being answered back. I told her that I too love my country and that I wanted the respect of her restored immediately and that would not happen with Bush as our president. I told her I wanted a president that fights a true war on terrorism.

She then asked where was I on September 11th, and I said sixty miles from New York City and I was frightened that Long Island maybe the next target being that it was so close. I stated to her, “I wanted to know where the hell our president was” and “why was it we did not hear from him for hours?” I told her living in close range to a terrorist attack was quite different from where she lived close to one thousand miles away. I also stated some within my community were lost in the towers, and I am still angry that he ignored the warnings given him. I think the latter statement hit her. She could not react to that.

In Colorado, I met up with three people. Where two were from Iowa and one was from Massachusetts. All three of them were for Senator Kerry and one lady from Iowa even wanted a Kerry button. I had one to give her and she was very thankful. I told them to keep Kerry’s message going and going.

Also, in Rocky Mountain State Park, I met up with a man from Georgia who too said he was for Kerry, but felt his vote would not count since Georgia is a solid red state. I said to him, to keep pounding Kerry’s message into the hearts of his fellow Georgians. I also met three more from Colorado who were going for Kerry. Many that I spoke with in Colorado were voting for Kerry and were sick of Bush.

Again, in Iowa, a man said he might do a write in vote, that is when I told him of what Kerry was all about and what he wanted to do for our country, he liked what he heard and said that he would look into Kerry and I said to go to to read up more. He thanked me.

In a truck stop in Elkhart, Indiana I met up with a young man working behind a counter who said, “I am all over Senator Kerry like a hawk and follow his speeches from the convention to any stop he makes” Very promising. I told him to keep Kerry’s message alive when he speaks with family and friends and he said, “No problem” Quite frankly, I thought this young man was going to jump over the counter or out of his skin with his enthusiasm for taking our country back. It was so good to see a young person this excited.

In Cedar Points, Ohio a young man said, “John K. all the way!” He loved Senator Kerry, but his aunt and uncle did not. But, at least I was able to say in front of them, why I too love Senator Kerry. Who knows a family discussion could have taken place after I said that. Also, in Cedar Points, Ohio, I met up with a former liberal Republican (Did not know one could be liberal and Republican at the same time) who was now a moderate Democrat. She was reading Bill Clinton’s book, “My Life.” She said that Bush is dangerous to women’s rights and fears he may “union bust” She is very frightened by him and is also talking to others to vote for Kerry.

It was then time to eat at the TGIFs in Cedar Points, where our waitress Heather said this after seeing my Kerry button, “If Bush gets back in, I am leaving this country.” On our check she wrote, “Dump Bush”! I am left to wonder what her boss said to that and laughed at reading it. It made me feel great. All around Cedar Points, Ohio while riding the many rides, I wore my button with pride and not one person made a negative remark to me and I got so many smiles as people saw it. Many people come to Cedar Points from all over this country and that was the perfect place to wear it.

While traveling through these many states, I saw more pro Kerry bumper stickers and only saw two Bush/Cheney 04 bumper stickers. One of my favorite bumper stickers was, “Be Patriotic, Vote Bush Out” and another one, “I Did Not Vote for the Son of a Bush”! Both had me laughing and realizing that perhaps Americans are getting it. In Colorado, I even saw one that said, “Climbers 4 Kerry.”

All in all, I had many great conversations with my fellow Americans staying on message, a positive one at that and where I hope that I made a difference. In all my travels, I did not see one Bush button. I wonder if those that still do support him are somewhat embarrassed to show it openly. Who really knows? All I do know that during my vacation, and especially after our convention, I felt the urgent need to keep Kerry’s message out there where hopefully and with hard work, he will become President John F. Kerry.


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