I'm looking to make some international phone calls tomorrow morning. Tomorrow morning Beijing time, that is, which should translate to this evening Central Daylight Time -- more specifically, this evening in the states of Ohio and Michigan.
It started with some email from MoveOn.org. As grassroots Get Out The Vote initiatives across the country shift into high gear, the folks at MoveOn are asking members to call potential volunteers in swing states and rally them around the flag. It's worked before (midterms '06) and I sure hope it will work this time.
When I first opened the mail, I thought to myself, "I'd have liked to do this; too bad I'm out here in Beijing. I love being here, but I sure wish I could be more involved in this election. Kind of makes me feel left out, being stuck here away from the action." Then I started thinking about what I could say if I did call. I mean, I know MoveOn gives you a script -- I've used it before, and it's pretty good -- but I figure I might be able to come up with something a little more tailored to my particular circumstances.
The conversation I ended up imagining features an antagonist rather than a fellow liberal, but even when you call the MoveOn demographic you occasionally run across the odd Republican, so there's a decent chance I'll get to use it:
Me: Hi there! My name is Flyingfish. I'm a member of MoveOn.org and I'm calling you all the way from Beijing, China.
Swing State Resident: You're calling me from Beijing?
Me: Yep, that's right. I'm calling because I'm seriously concerned about the direction our country is taking, and I want to know if Senator Barack Obama can count on your help to win the Presidential election this November.
Swing State Resident: You're calling FROM BEIJING? To find out how I'm going to vote?
Me: Yes. And I'm calling because Barack Obama doesn't just need your vote, he needs the votes of all the people you talk to, all the residents of the great state of [insert name of state stupid enough to consider the McCain-Palin ticket as anything other than an obscene joke] who can swing [repeat state name] for Obama this November.
Swing State Resident: You're calling from BEIJING to tell me all this? Must be pretty expensive. You one of those rich liberal types from, I don't know, Massachusetts or somewhere like that?
Me: Yeah, well, never mind where I'm from originally. I'm CALLING from Beijing. And let me tell you, if this call WERE expensive, it would be worth every penny if it meant we could prevent John McCain from continuing the Bush Administration's policies, which aren't just expensive; they're drowning our entire country in red ink. They make Katrina look like a day at the beach. And John McCain just doesn't get it. I mean, this is the guy who recently described "the fundamentals' of our economy as "strong." In the middle of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression? Maybe the worst financial crisis EVER? He says the fundamentals of our economy are STRONG?
Well, maybe we should give him a break. He is 72, after all. Maybe he was dizzy from trying to count his houses. Or his foreign-made cars. He might not really have meant "strong." He might have been trying to say "strange." Or maybe "staying," as in "staying right in the toilet where the Bush Administration dumped them five years ago when he pitched us into this disastrous war which has accomplished nothing constructive, cost trillions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives, acted as a great recruiting tool for Islamic extremism across the globe, lost us the goodwill of pretty much every nation on earth, and which I have consistently supported."
But, actually, no, this call isn't expensive. I'm using software that you can download over the internet for free. This call is costing me just a few pennies a minute.
Everyone here in Beijing uses this software. It's all the rage. It brings the whole world closer together than ever before. I can talk to my family every day if I want to.
And I love talking to my family. I've got family values like John McCain's got lobbyists. I've got family values like Sarah Palin's got the pelts of Alaskan wolves slaughtered by bounty hunters from helicopters and low-flying airplanes.
But I have to admit, when I first got MoveOn's email asking me to call you, it did take me a minute and a half before I realized that I could do it through the internet. Yeah, I know, call me a 20th century mind in a 21st century world. It took me a minute and 30 seconds to cotton on.
But hey, I'm not running for president.
I know I may need to adapt this script a bit. Can't expect everyone I call to say his lines on cue. But I figure if I make enough calls, I'll get to say most parts of my script at least once. And I plan on making a lot of calls.
As the fellow says, "Pennsylvania. Michigan. Ohio. That's an election."