Too Close Not to Call

This week, I saw two men deliver extended speeches on TV. One was a professional football player. The other was our president.

One man spoke candidly and articulately, expressed great humility, and offered a strong message of hope for the future as he nears the final stretch of his time in power.

The second dropped tired clich?es, talked smack about his opponents and wouldn’t shut up about great he was.

The first man was New York Giants running back Tiki Barber, announcing his plans to retire at the end of this season. The second was George W. Bush, supporting a Republican candidate for Congress at a campaign rally.

In a speech I caught on C-SPAN, Bush was as divisive and dishonest as ever, as he told a cheering throng that the one thing Democrats can agree on is that they don’t want victory in Iraq. That, and they want to raise your taxes. And, oh yeah, they’re afraid to get tough with the terrorists. So vote Republican, or give up your money and your safety. God bless America.

When I began to think about how much more I respect Tiki and his team (the Giants have a 4-2 record after a big win on Monday night) than Bush and his (not the best record–Iraq, ignoring global warming, disregarding the Geneva Conventions…), I realized it was time to get out of my recliner and do what I had been putting off for days: call a bunch of people in Kentucky.

A few of Kentucky’s congressional districts are up for grabs, and with the help of, I telephoned 25 homes of potential democratic voters in the bluegrass state. If anyone answered, I urged them to go to the polls and vote for their local Donkey candidate next Tuesday.

CallForChange is a highly organized effort to win control of the House and Senate for the Democrats, complete with an automated phone number supplier, a script to follow once contact is made and a feedback section to track each home’s interest in the election. All volunteers have to do is click a link and start calling. It’s that easy.

And it just might work. Congressional races from New York to Nevada are too close to call–or in this case, too close not to call–as candidates vie for 33 Senate openings and all 435 seats in the House. Strategists on both sides freely admit that who wins out on Election Day will depend on which party does the best job firing up its potential voters.

When I talked to Kentuckians about a change in the capitol, they listened. And they agreed–the ones who didn’t immediately hang up on me, that is. Even a convicted felon who drawled like Johnny Knoxville vowed to tell his friends and family to vote for Democratic candidates.

As Barack Obama writes in his new book, The Audacity of Hope, Americans “sense–correctly–that the nation’s most significant challenges are being ignored” and that “we need a new kind of politics, one that can excavate and build upon those shared understandings that pull us together as Americans.”

The thought of another two years with a Republican congressional majority giving Bush and friends a free pass should be enough to spur any thinking person to rise out of his recliner, hit up and call Kentucky or Ohio or wherever. This election season, voting just isn’t enough.