I have volunteered for political campaigns for a couple of years now, I've phone banked, canvassed, handed out literature at Metro stops. It is expected that in doing such an activity that I would come across an individual who would not be welcoming to me and the candidate that I am representing and supporting. I've had everything from someone's 80 year old grandmother yelling at my over the phone to take her off of the call list, to someone sitting in her front yard yelling, "Don't even think about it!" when I went to open her gate, to facing a 'hefty' man well over six feet tall (I'm 5'5" and slim) with a deep, loud voice, challenging me at a Metro station on why I'm voting Democrat. And, he was definitely in my personal space. My response to all of them has been to either say, "Thank you, have a good day" and smile, or in the case of the big, bad Republican, to answer each of his questions and counter each of his baseless claims with calm facts without moving an inch.
I'm still volunteering in Virginia for a candidate that used to be my Congressman when I lived just over the Potomac. Last night I went in to call some "solid Dems" and people who have volunteered for Democrats in the past, asking them to vote for my candidate who is now being challenged by a bogus Democratic primary opponent backed by a Super PAC from Texas. Everything went as expected, a few people said they had changed their minds and wouldn't vote Democrat this time around, but overall, everyone was quite civil. And, then I made a call that still makes me sick.
The man, in his 60s, picked up and I introduced myself, explaining that I why I was calling. His response:
"I want to shoot all the Democrats."
He starts to laugh. "You can take it and run with it!" he says to me, quite proud of himself.
"I, uh, ok then."
"You have a good night!" and he hangs up the phone, still laughing, still pleased with himself.
This is the only person whom I have ever wanted to call back and correct him for his poor, disgusting, inexcusable rhetoric. What would I say to him?
"Hi, it's me again. I'm calling you now, not as a volunteer for a Democratic candidate, but as an individual whom you just said you want to kill or seriously injure by way of a fire arm because of how I vote. I am a human whose life has value, and I have never been so insulted or nauseated by someone's words as I have just been by yours.
"You want to shoot me because I vote Democrat. What if I were your daughter or your granddaughter? Would you want to say that to me again? Would you want to say that to my father or my mother - that you want to shoot their daughter because of her vote? Would you look me in the eye and say it? You want me to take it and run with it? Does that mean that I can call law enforcement and have them make a visit to your home? I can do that and it would be legitimate because you have just threatened my life. And, to top it all off, you think it's funny. Trust me. That police officer would have a lot to say to you, and would tell you that if you ever made a comment like that again, your ass would be hauled off to the jail and you would go before a judge to answer for your behavior and it would go on your record along with a lovely little restraining order."
We have a serious problem in this country when people think it's comical to tell another citizen that they want to shoot them because of their political ideology. Maybe, we've become too desensitized because of television, movies, and video games. We've removed all concept of what it means to inflict pain - or threaten to inflict pain - upon another person. This man's words were the exact words that children who are bullied hear everyday in schools, just remove "all Democrats" and insert the child's name. At what point did this rhetoric become ok, and why is it being validated by a collective silence on behalf of the listener?
I still wish I would've called him back, but I couldn't.