THE BLOG
10/17/2008 12:24 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Campaign Journal: Meeting the Neighbors

Barbara White Stack is an OffTheBus grassroots correspondent. Each week she contributes a campaign journal documenting her life out on the trail.

The AFL-CIO gave me a list of union members in my suburban, very-Republican home town to canvass for Barack Obama, and there, in the first folder I opened, was my own name.

That was an easy visit. I didn't have to Mapquest the address. I knew exactly when the homeowner would be available to talk. And I had a really good sense that my inquiry would be met cordially - even by the non-union husband in the house.

Check mark for Obama. One down, 24 more to go.

Visiting people in my neighborhood was easy. I could knock on the door and introduce myself as Barbara White Stack, your neighbor down the street. And sometimes I would be greeted with, "Oh, yeah, I know you. You are the people with the giant Great Dane." Nothing like a big dog to break the ice.

People just slightly further afield knew me occasionally too - often for reasons I'd never have guessed. I knocked on one door and the owner said, "Oh, I remember you. My wife has a letter from you."

Turns out, years ago, when she was a township official, I'd gone to a meeting to protest a proposed development. She'd let me and my cohorts rant before the board voted to permit the development anyway. I wrote her a letter thanking her for listening and giving us time to let off steam. She'd kept the correspondence all these years.

On the other side of the highway, I found reasonably friendly homeowners, but none who knew me. One woman was a little nervous to find me on her doorstep.

She came to the door and remained behind the screen as I identified myself and said I was from the union and was visiting union households to get a feel for where members stood in the presidential election. She hesitated. It was clear she didn't want to reveal her position. Usually, that meant a supporter of John McCain.

"Well, as you probably know, both the AFL-CIO, and the United Steelworkers, the union I belong to, have endorsed Barack Obama. . . ," I said.

She gave a sigh of relief. But still clearly nervous, she looked both ways, as if to make sure her neighbors were not watching, then whispered, "We're Obama supporters. But you don't say it out here. This is Republican country."

Some people fear coming out of the closet. She dreaded coming out of her house with her backing of Obama.

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