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Vacationing for Dean

Vacationing for Dean! (or, "How we burned off our frustration over
having the last primary by making our vacation a working one for Dean
in NH")

By David Way and Carissa Caulder, 'NJ for Dean' representatives

(pictures for the trip will be coming later)

My wife and I were brainstorming recently over ideas about how to
help Dean more directly. At the same point in time, we were also trying
to figure out where to go on our summer vacation. She had relatives in
Hyannis, MA and Concord, NH that she hadn't seen in approx. 20 years.
NH of course is the site of the first presidential primary. The local
NJ for Dean campaign had been pleading for its members to go to New
Hampshire to help out more directly in the campaign (since New Jersey
and Montana are tied for LAST in presidential primaries in the nation
(June 8, 2004)). All of these facts were in our minds while we were
trying to figure out what to do. So, we came up with the idea to
combine everything: first weekend in NH, the ensuing week vacationing
in MA, then finally a second weekend in NH before heading home. To make
a long story short, the plan went off like clockwork!

The state-by-state itinerary went as follows: New Jersey, tiny
sliver of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and finally New
Hampshire, where we spent Aug. 9-10. We knew we were off to a good
start when a lady sharing the sink in the rest stop lavatory spied my
wife's Dean pin and started asking about Dean on the cover of 'Time'.
I got to hand out my first 'Dean for America' business card of the trip
and we were barely into Connecticut! (More about these cards below...)

We arrived in Manchester, NH after about 5 hours, perhaps a bit
longer. The Dean HQ was a little difficult to find at first, unlike the
Kerry office which we accidentally found in the front of the building
at 195 Mcgregor Street. So, we joined an elevator full of Kerry people
bussed in from Mass just moments before our arrival (we were the
better-dressed ones in our Dean regalia) and found out that the Dean
camp was around back. Upon arriving in at Dean HQ we were immediately
recruited by Tim Razel who sent us out canvassing to a rural part of
town. Before our trek into the wilds of suburban Manchester, we walked
downtown to grab some lunch after our multi-hour trip. We ran into
three unfortunate Lieberman campaign workers (this may, in fact, have
constituted their entire campaign staff since their office looks like
it had been abandoned several years ago) on the way to a restaurant and
we exchanged hand-signs to each other. No - no middle-digits were
raised. One of them attempted a hand configuration which was virtually
unidentifiable (I supposed that this may have been his first attempt at
manual communication, so I let it slide); we responded with a
thumbs-down and a "finger-crucifix" which seemed to be highly effective
as they fled across the street immediately upon seeing it. (Perhaps the
darkness of their headquarters passed on vampiric attributes to them?)

Anyway, after lunch we went canvassing. We got a wide variety of
opinions (to say the least), but on the whole the experience was a
positive one because we got to witness people's opinions first-hand.
One particular being went out of his way to offer his opinion, but he
wasn't human - he was canine! My wife was trying to knock on a door
given on her list, but the dog simply insisted that his views be
listened to first. She quickly got the message, and, remembering that
discretion is the better part of valor, bid a hasty retreat to the
safety of the street. Luckily, there was an electronic fence installed,
so I got Carissa back in one piece! :) We both praised the ingenuity of
electronic fences and wished that we could thank the inventor in
person. (Keep that last statement in mind...it will crop up again
later.)

Once we returned to the headquarters to follow up on our visits, we
learned that we might have had to spend the night with our pillows and
the particle board tables of the Dean office if it weren't for the
kindness of Mary Sayer who at 7:30 pm graciously offered to let two
total strangers into her home after we found out our first choice had
cats. (Side note: this whole mess was my fault - when I originally
called Tim to set up the weekends in NH, I completely failed to mention
that I was allergic to cats. Since there also seemed to be a section in
the state constitution that required virtually all residents to own
cats, Delana (another high-ranking NH for Dean staffer) had a heck of a
time finding a plan "B" for us for a place to stay. In fact, I think
she had to resort to plan "O" or "P" before finding Mary.) Well, 'O'
(or 'P') must be our lucky letter because Mary was a perfect match for
us! Without going further in detail (and frankly I would love sharing
her story with all of you), we are planning to stay in touch with each
other for the rest of this campaign and beyond.

Sunday morning, there was a rousing meeting for statewide Dean
representatives in NH at the "Center of New Hampshire" Holiday Inn
(yes, that's its real name) - we held up an enormous array of signs and
cheered like crazy with about 15-20 other people on the street corners.
We definitely made an impression on the downtown scenery. The cadence
leaders were spectacular and made it very easy for us to be
enthusiastic! Sunday afternoon, we took it "easy" in the A/C and placed
150 phone calls to voters between the two of us. (Tired fingers in air
conditioning are better than tired arms and throats in the noon-day
sun.)

Monday through Wednesday (Aug. 11-13) we went down to Cape Cod to
see our cousins. We rode in our uncle's antique Porsche for a spin
around the Kennedy compound. (Little did they knew we were just po'
folks from NJ!) It actually was very nice soaking in the atmosphere
from the area which gave the Democratic Party some of its best
candidates, both senatorial and presidential. It definitely gave us
more motivation to help deliver another great candidate to the
Democratic Party in Gov. Dean.

Then, it was on to Beantown (Aug. 13-15) where we casually swung by
Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square to see how Mass for Dean's tabling was
going (we looked up their events online at their website before
arriving in Boston - the Internet is a wonderful tool, isn't it?). They
had a very successful tabling event by signing up 30 people to the
email list. Go Mass! We joined them for celebratory ice cream and
exchanged addresses. They were impressed with our business cards which
our local New Brunswick, NJ meet-up has been getting from
Vistaprint.com. They are a great outreach tool and they're free (+
shipping)! (Template here: http://mcmanzi.tripod.com/id279.htm ) I have
to admit that one of the smaller goals of our trip was to increase the
exposure of these cards - they really are a convenient and easy way to
give out information and keep in contact with others in the campaign.
(No, I am not receiving any kickbacks from Vistaprint. How could I?
They don't charge anything for their cards! :)

Afterwards, in the Harvard Bookstore, we met a professional
inventor (a graduate of MIT, interestingly enough) who started talking
to Carissa after seeing her "Dean for America" pin on her backpack.
This
conversation lasted for almost an hour since another of his friends
arrived and we all talked about how bad this current administration was
for our country. What was interesting about the rants against Bush was
that they were coming from all sides - the inventor was what I would
classify as a "progressive independent" (thus, his views were very
similar to ours) and his friend was a Libertarian! His friend and I had
just read the same article from the Cato Institute (a
conservative-leaning think-tank with a Libertarian focus) criticizing
the Bush Administration for spending more money than the supposed
"tax-and-spend" liberal presidents! This was a nice coincidence that
made our discussion more lively. In short, we learned from this
spontaneous meeting that no matter what political persuasion you may
happen to be, there are two near-constants concerning the USA today: 1)
virtually anyone can be, and often is, against Bush; and 2) virtually
anyone can be, and often is, for Dean.

The inventor also had a bit of an amazing history. We found out by
talking to him that he invented Laser Tag! No kidding! :) A truly
unexpected surprise. But, that's not where his inventions ended.
Remember whom we wanted to thank a few days ago? Well, this same
fellow, and this has to go down as one of the greatest synchronistic
events of all time, also invented electronic fencing for pets! So, we
got our wish in thanking the inventor who, at least indirectly if not
directly, saved my wife from certain harm. Completely mindblowing! :)

We also picked up an educational gift in the bookstore before
leaving. To see what we bought, go to: http://www.bushcards.com
You'll be glad you did! :)

An interesting side note: we saw absolutely NO Kerry or Lieberman
promotional items on the entire trip (yes, even in Massachusetts and
Connecticut) except by the campaign headquarters for each in
Manchester, NH. That was a bit revealing to us - it may be revealing
for more reasons than we know. We'll soon find out.

Finally, NH weekend #2 (Aug. 15-17)! Right after we arrived, we
canvassed and handed out leaflets in a different area of town from the
first time (no mean dogs over here). During the time in between this
neighborhood's being canvassed back in June and again now in August, we
were excited to see firsthand that some voters had changed from neutral
to leaning towards Dean for the primary! :) Progress can be slow, but
as long as it's steady, we are in great shape!

After seeing the sites in Concord, NH (a very pretty town, by the
way) with the excellent guidance of our cousins, we had a restful
slumber and went back to work on Saturday. More phone calls and
letters. When we went out for lunch, we saw Gephardt supporters on the
street corners attempting in vain to conjure up the enthusiasm we
displayed the previous weekend. It made me feel a little sad - they had
far fewer people and almost no energy (we concluded that they must have
just watched a speech by Dick). In fact, I thought at first that there
were just signs hanging on the lampposts, but then I realized that
there were actual people attached to the bottom of the signs. The only
perceivable movement (for the people as well as the signs) seemed to be
caused by the wind coming down Elm Street. (Maybe inertia is contagious
from top to bottom in that campaign?)

Also, New Jersey was well-represented this weekend because Marifel
Calis, Byron Arnao and Byron's son were up from NJ (NJ was truly
representin' for Dean this weekend! :) Byron's story is an especially
interesting one and, as a result, he is a great ally for the Dean Team.
He is THE guy who implemented the first-ever internet voting system for
the Arizona Primary last year. Check out his website at:
http://www.arnao.com/ So, if we ever need expert testimony regarding
the unverifiable touch-screen voting machines, we have an excellent
source.

After going to dinner with our cousins, we headed over to Mary's
again. This time her daughter was there as well. Since it seemed that
it had been ordained for this trip that we were only to meet people who
were involved in esoteric jobs, we found out that she was a civilian
worker for nuclear submarines in Portsmouth, NH. (I swear that I'm not
making any of these details up.)

Well, I could go on (obviously), but I'll leave out a few details
and end here (those who were left out - please do not be offended.
"Brevity is the (very) soul of wit", as Shakespeare once said.) The
point of telling this story is to inspire people to come to New
Hampshire (and Iowa, now that I think of it) to volunteer, even if you
have to schedule your vacation around it. Delana, Irene, Josh, Lindsay,
Tim McCoy and Tim Razel (among very many others) are gracious hosts and
patient trainers of new workers. If you got the impression that working
for the campaign was FUN, you are correct! :) So, come on, citizens of
Montana and New Jersey (or of any state who has a primary after
Illinois (Mar. 16)) - come to New Hampshire and/or Iowa right now! Make
a difference even if your state's primary is a late one. (We're
definitely planning return trips.) That way, when you watch the
successful primary returns in January for Gov. Dean, you can proudly
say, "I helped that happen."


See you in South Carolina (oh, did I forget to tell you that we're
going to SC also to help out in the campaign later this year?),

David and Carissa