“Donald Trump is so frightening to me. It is the only thing I can do to make sure he doesn’t become president,” says my friend Susan McPherson who is a campaign volunteer for Hillary Clinton.
I’ve known Susan since college, and I would have never pegged her as prospective political activist. She is smart, well-read, thoughtful and has an opinion, but not necessarily a joiner or cheerleader for big causes. Yet, as more Trump/Pence signs puncture front lawns throughout New England, this suburban female voter decided to get involved.
A native and resident of Massachusetts, Susan is spending her Sunday afternoon’s canvassing the battleground state of New Hampshire to persuade undecided voters and registered Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Susan is an English professor and head of the honors program at a Massachusetts college. She is also a registered Independent who admits to voting Republican in 2000 which placed George W. Bush in the Oval Office.
With a shrug, Sue explains, “I liked Bush back then because he seemed to be a man of the people; a regular guy. Little did I know he was a regular country bumpkin.”
This year’s election was different for Susan who felt more nervous each time another Republican presidential candidate was picked off during the primaries, leaving Donald Trump as the last man standing.
“I’ll admit that Hillary is not always easy to like, and she’s not a good campaigner and so often looks scripted and stiff. But for me, there is no comparing the two candidates,” says Susan of her chosen candidate and emphasizing that, “Trump is dangerous and ill-informed and Hillary has experience, intellect, and happens to support the liberal causes that are important to me: women’s rights, health care, and gun control. I don’t agree with everything she stands for, but I think that is normal.”
Susan and her sister and niece drive an hour north to New Hampshire to knock on doors on behalf of Hillary.
“Hillary has a really good ground game, taking cues from Barack Obama’s grassroots outreach in 2008 and 2012. Trump doesn’t really have a ground game,” says Susan who could choose to work the phone bank, go door to door to persuade voters, or raise money. Armed with maps, names, and addresses, Susan was off to knock on doors.
“You might be on Mayflower Lane and only have to go to house number 2 and 8 because their is either an Undecided voter or a Republican living there who you have to speak to. Frankly, we were just happy to get someone to answer the door!”
Susan rang 40 door bells on one Sunday afternoon with the goal to get one person to sign a card stating they will vote for Hillary.
“I got Barry to sign,” and Susan admits the wrong assumption she made about Barry being a Trump supporter because of the big pickup truck in his driveway but, “Barry was a great guy and said he was voting for Hillary because it was time for a female president.”
She also talked to senior citizen Bob in his backyard. Bob is voting for Trump in order to protect the Constitution of the United States. “He did say we seemed like nice girls and that he didn’t dislike us for our differing views and wished us good luck,” laughed Susan.
Another woman who seemed frazzled with kids yelling and dogs barking said, “I like to keep who I vote for private.”
Campaign managers encourage volunteers to be polite, however, Susan couldn’t help but think, “Keep it private? You live in New Hampshire, the entryway to presidential politics!”
This past Sunday, Susan rang another forty doorbells of Democrat households to get out the vote, inform people where poll sites are located and remind them that election day is November 8th.
According to Susan, residents of the “Live Free or Die” state are dying for the election to be over. One woman Susan met asked to be removed from the list.
“This woman said she gets calls every night at quarter to ten wanting to know who she is going to vote for and she is a registered Democrat,” and Susan empathizes with New Hampshire folks, “Every four years New Hampshire living is relentless phone calls and polling.”
There were disappointments when confronting Americans who were not planning to vote.
“We talked to a young father who is not registered to vote, and we couldn’t get him to register because, as he said, he doesn’t want to vote for either candidate. When I mentioned that in New Hampshire there is also a US Senate and Congress race, as well as a gubernatorial race, he didn’t seem swayed.”
Susan couldn’t understand how a father with young children could give up his constitutional right to vote on behalf of his children’s future.
Susan isn’t sure she is making a real difference, but her Sunday visits to New Hampshire neighborhoods is helping her feel some control over the election outcome.