Paula B. Mays is an OffTheBus grassroots correspondent. Each week she contributes a campaign journal documenting her life out on the trail.
Last week I was bemoaning the fact I was sent to canvass, that is knock on the doors of an appointed list of people and try to get them to vote for Senator Obama. This was not my favorite task, so this week I ignored the pleas for further canvassing activity this week.
Instead, I went to my local Virginia office, in Northern Virginia where McCain advisor, Nancy Pfotenhauer informed us yesterday that we were not real Virginians.
But real Virginian or not, I again volunteered for data entry duties. No data entry, but instead I assisted in preparing the packets for future canvasser. These packets include a map of the area you are assigned to canvass, talking points, a tally sheet, and other information. So this duty was done but basically uneventful.
The most interesting part of my campaign week, however, was my internet conversations with Barbie. Barbie you say? Yes really, this was her screen name on IVillage.com Barbies3boys. I felt a bit like that time, and I´m sure most people don´t remember this, but when her husband was running for his second term as President, Barbara Bush had a week long newspaper argument in the Washington Post with Marge Simpson wife of the cartoon character Homer Simpson about the Bush policies. While at I don´t remember all of the particulars, I do remember at one point Barbara Bush told Marge Simpson she wasn´t real so she didn´t know she could read.
That´s what my conversations with Barbie seemed to me Kafkaesque. I don´t really think I know any real people like Barbie, even though theoretically I know they exist. The sum of it is, Barbie is voting for Sarah Palin simply because she is a woman and has children. To Barbies3boys , being a mother seems to be all the qualification Sarah Palin needs to be the second most powerful person on earth! Barbie also seems to believe all of the lies spread about Senator Obama such as he hangs with terrorist. She seems particularly upset that his middle name is Hussein.
So how did I come to talk to Barbie you might ask? I have been fortunate enough to publish articles on Off the Bus citizen reporting. One such article was an interview with my friend Julie, who is an expert on families and children. Julie has written a book about this issue and has spoken on radio and television. The sum total of the article is that Senator McCain will not support the issues of women and children.
When you publish these articles they tell you to promote them, so I thought putting a copy of this particular article on IVillage.com, which has an interest in families, women and children, was a good idea.
A few people responded to IVillage. Most said thank you for the information which they found helpful or they agreed with the premise. That is until Barbie.
Weeks after the article was posted, I received notification of a response to my article from IVillage, so I went to the cite with interest to see what it said. And lo, a response from Barbie3boys said in part: I will look to find a few articles that will not support the article you have referenced. Having Palin (a working mom - of a handicapped infant no less, I do not believe what is stated in this article is fact at all. In fact, I have read numerous other articles that dispute your article. The have HUGE concerns over Mr Obama...His middle name is Husane, his terrorist ties that he does not deny, his wife's comments "I am now finally proud to be an American", his muslim background, his minister stating "G D America, oh my gosh I don't think I need to say more. America is NOT ready for a Muslim president!!!!
Now all of my friends said Barbie was a hopeless case, which I knew. Beyond the misspelling of his name, Barbie did not address the issues of the economy, the war, or the issues that should have been important to her such as, healthcare, family leave, or reproductive rights. But I could not resist the urge to try to educate Barbie, so after trying to explain that Senator Obama was not a Muslim; and even if he was this is not a reason to conclude he´s a terrorist, I wrote a reply which said in part: "I am urging you to take time to look at actual facts before speaking. Be a critical thinker not a sheep lulled into an opinion."
Yes, you guessed it, Barbie was not moved. In part Barbie replied: I am a very highly educated American who is VERY concerned about American safety. We do not need another 911...not in our day...not in the days for our precious children and grandchildren. So yes, terrorism should be on everyone's mind. Show me how Obama has more experience than Govenor Palin? And he is running for President!
Okay, so I´m a glutton for punishment, especially since she said she was highly educated, so I figured I´d try again, excerpts of my response are: "I´m glad you want to support a woman, but don´t do it just because they are a woman. That is an insult to women. Vote for a woman because she is qualified and highly and intelligent. Whatever you think of Hillary Clinton she was capable and intelligent."
This elicited a long response from Barbie, which included the stunning "name sounds like" argument: "Unfortunately the name Barack Hussein Obama is just getting too close to the name Saddam Hussain." Ok this is clearly a lost cause, but really, because I was so outraged at the absolute ignorance of this comment, I was forced to reply. I said, "Everyone is scared of terrorism, that´s why it is a good tactic. Please consider the whole world has respect for Senator Obama and that will go a long way in keep America safe. Much further than tactics of fear and intimidation. I also added: " His name is too close to Saddam Hussein, What????????? That´s just a foreign sounding name you have never heard before, that´s it. Think. That´s like saying someone who names their child Timothy intends to raise a child who will be Timothy McVay, that´s crazy."
To the issue of Reverend Wright which she raised, I went on to explain that I thought Reverend Wright was a black preacher addressing the black church and this has nothing to do with Obama and should not be taken out of context. Then just as I thought we were having a debate and making progress, what happens? Barbie goes racial on me! Barbie writes "I've figured out the ONLY reason why you are voting for Obama. That is not a good reason to vote for a candidate. Luckily that is the very reason he will not be elected.
Now Barbie is voting for a totally unqualified candidate because she is a woman and has children; she failed to address issue of policy or platform, but while I never mentioned my race, she accused me of voting for Obama solely based on race.
My conclusion, it really was like talking to a Barbie doll, and I just don´t think she´ll ever get it. I concluded the exchange by telling Barbie that I was sorry I couldn´t convince her of the truth, but that I hope she would let her children travel so they won´t have a narrow world view. But as far as convincing Barbie, it wasn´t happening.
So I found out that people like that lady on TV that said she couldn´t vote for Barack Obama because he was "an Arab," really do exist. (In the back of my mind I thought maybe it was staged, because it was too ridiculous to be true).
But I am convinced that those people are on the wrong side of history. I believe the zeitgeist and spirit of America has changed and many people are hungry for togetherness, hope, and a country that has respect for others.
I´m hopeful that one Barbie won´t affect the outcome of this election. Have to go now though, because the Obama canvassers are at my door...
Want to become a grassroots correspondent for HuffPost's OffTheBus? Sign up here to journal your experiences once a week as a McCain or Obama Volunteer.