Why I went to Pennsylvania


To the editor:

I followed politics from afar this summer, but by Labor Day I felt the need to get involved. I wanted to canvass in a key battleground state. Pennsylvania, the Keystone State, fit the bill.

Through Facebook I located a Vineyarder working the streets of Bristol in Bucks County, north of Philadelphia. On the first of October I drove down and went to work out of a storefront, staffed by college-age enthusiasts. Over five days, knocking on a hundred doors a day, I urged homeowners to vote for a Democrat in the White House, the Senate, and the House.

Canvassing is fun. You see varied neighborhoods. You meet lots of people. I walked four or five hours a day. It is rewarding when people urge you on, but can be frustrating when people are not home. It was inspirational.

I went to Pennsylvania because I felt a need to be part of the political system. As a child, I recall my parents earnestly condemning the demagoguery of Senator Joseph McCarthy. As a teen I edited a newspaper that delved into key historical events. Coming of age in the ’60s, I followed political upheavals across the country. I worked for John Kerry and both of Barack Obama’s campaigns. Once more I had to put my feet where my heart was.

I went to Pennsylvania because I believe Hillary Clinton has the opportunity to continue efforts begun under President Obama. She has the qualifications, determination, and dedication to move ahead. I support a Democratic majority in the Senate because the intransigence of Senate Republicans in blocking the Supreme Court nomination has stymied the court.

I went to Pennsylvania to meet the people. I met an 80-year-old woman who wanted to volunteer at the phone bank, to call voters to vote. A man wanted a Hillary sign to show his neighbors where he stood; I gave him mine. I met an African American who wanted to volunteer. I chatted with an undecided voter who listened carefully to my views on the candidates. I met a man en route to an Eagles game, who enthusiastically supported a straight Democratic ticket. I met several women who felt humiliated by the Republican presidential campaign. And I brought an absentee ballot application to a woman who said, “They should send more people from Massachusetts like you to get things done around here.”

I liken Donald J. Trump to Phineas T. Barnum, the huckster of the 19th century, who once said, “The people like to be humbugged.” Barnum’s “Greatest Show on Earth” was formulated on the belief that his patrons willingly agreed to his hoaxes. As an entertainer and promoter, his primary goal was “to put money in his own coffers.”

Donald Trump is an entertainer. I pity the entertainment stars who have tolerated his leering eyes and groping hands. I am empathetic to Republicans who thought they had found a hero who spoke their language, but learned his only theme is self-absorption. I went to Pennsylvania because I feared that that swing state would swing the wrong way; I am now confident the election will turn in favor of the Democrats.

I went to Pennsylvania because I believe that in a democracy, each of us has a responsibility to make the system work. Now in my waning 60s, I can give more toward improving the world around me.

Thomas Dresser
Oak Bluffs