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The Gross National Debt

Sunday, October 15, 2006

(Cross-posted at Raising Kaine and Daily Kos)

So poor Mr. RenaRF has been working a lot lately.  It's a good thing - as a contractor, if the work's there, he takes it and tries to book a backlog that will keep him busy into the foreseeable future.  Unfortunately, sometimes the backlog is SO huge that he has to work weeks straight.  The last few weeks have been like that.

Although Mr. RenaRF is not especially a football fan, if he's not working I'll watch the football game at home (Washington's my team - long may they suck).  The last two Sundays, however, he's been working.  Two Sundays ago I just watched the game in my empty house, shrieking and scaring the cats.  Yesterday, though, I decided to watch at least the first half at a nearby watering hole with lots of sports screens.

That's where I met Mr. NASCAR.

I'm bar people - if you are also bar people, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I went through undergrad and the portion of grad school that I finished working at bars, and a great percentage of that working behind the bar.  Mr. RenaRF and I are musical and have a band - which also puts us in bars a lot.  You know those women who won't show up to a happy hour until WAY after it started because they don't want to be there if they don't know anyone?  I'm not one of those.

So yesterday, I made my way up to the bar near my home to eat some lunch (the food is good in this place - lots of surprisingly healthy choices) and watch the game.  I walked in and sat myself down at the bar in front of the screen that would be showing the Washington/Tennessee game.  I ordered - the seat to my right and to my left was, initially, unoccupied.

As kickoff approached, however, the bar filled in.  A very nice retired gentleman sat at my left.  Two guys walked in and took the seats to my right.  One of them was funny - he had a hysterically ridiculous Washington-themed old-style soft helmet he wore.  Quite the conversation piece.

Both of them looked like hard-working guys.  The kind of guys you would expect don't wear suits and work way harder than their paycheck rewards.  Mr. NASCAR had a shirt on that had the Washington logo as well as NASCAR insignia.  For those of you who don't know, Joe Gibbs, Washington's coach, left football to start a NASCAR team.  He was very successful at this.  So Washington fans who are also NASCAR fans tend to group the two together.

So, in the commercial break before kickoff, the local CBS affiliate ran George Felix Allen's latest debacle where he picks out Webb's words about Washington (of the political, not football variety) needing more revenue (DUH), which of course becomes a "Jim Webb will raise your taxes" scare tactic.  The commercial then cites the cost of a tax increase ot the "average" Virginia family (totally squirrelly - I hope someone debunks those figures and soon), and concludes with "can you afford to lose that revenue?" or something like that.

I see it and I'm pissed.  Fresh from my canvass earlier, I still had Webb stickers in my purse.  I theatrically threw my napkin down and said "that's IT!"  I opened my purse and pulled out my 20 or so Webb stickers and proceeded to affix a few to my Washington jersey (which I wear for good luck - may need to rethink its effectiveness).

Funny hat dude isn't playing.  In a totally nice and conversational way he says, "oh no - politics, bars and football don't mix."  I wasn't offended, but I also didn't give a shit.  They fit in MY world.

Funny Hat dude's friend, though, is intrigued.

Mr. NASCAR: "Where'd you get those?"

Me: "I've been canvassing for Jim Webb.  I got them at the campaign office."

Mr. NASCAR:  "Door to door?  Man - you're brave."

Me: "Not really.  You'd be amazed how many people support Webb and went out of their way to let me know they supported him.  It was a lot of fun, and I'll be doing it every weekend between now and the election."

A pause.  We're watching the beginning of the game, attention elsewhere until the next commercial break.  I decide that canvassing is a state of mind as opposed to a mere activity occurring over a set period of time.  One can canvass, informally, in a bar.

Me: "Are you registered to vote?"

Mr. NASCAR: "Yeah.  I haven't missed a vote since I moved here 15 years ago."

I pause, he continues.

Mr. NASCAR: "I've always voted Republican.  My dad was a Republican, my grandfather a Republican.  But not this time.  I'm voting for whoever the challenger is this time.  I'm tired of it - sick of the whole thing - the lying, the decisions.  We have to get ALL of those guys out."

Me: "Where do you live?"

Mr. NASCAR: "In Sterling."

Me: "So you're in Frank Wolf's district?"

Mr. NASCAR: "Yeah.  I don't even know who's running against him but I'll vote for him [whoever is running against Wolf]."

Me: "She.  Judy Feder is running against Wolf.  Will you vote for Jim Webb?"

Mr. NASCAR: "Yep.  Like I said - all of those guys have to go and since both of mine are Republicans, I'm voting Democrat for the first time in my life.  It's time."

NOTE: The conversation is paraphrased but I've captured the important points.

So... What we have here is kind of a mixed bag.  Mr. NASCAR wasn't especially becoming a Democrat.  Rather, he was in the "throw the bums out" camp.  Had the bums been Democrats, he would have voted Republican.  Since the bums are Republicans, he's voting Democrat.

I'll take it, and I was encouraged.  This bar, and especially football people, always strike me as very "real" people.  Not that other people aren't - but where I live, most of the bars and restaurants are populated with very high income people.  The sports tend to bring out a greater mix.

Mr. NASCAR was serious, and barring a personal catastrophe (God forbid), he'll be at the polls on November 7 and pushing the button (we e-vote here - shudder) for Judy Feder and Jim Webb.

Do I smell a growing backlash?  I sure hope so - keep the faith, folks.  There are opportunities when you least expect it to convince and show your dedication, and to receive some level of validation in return.

Update [2006-10-17 0:25:39 by RenaRF]: The comments have been great - many are wondering how many NASCAR Kossacks we have, so I've updated this with a poll. Enjoy!



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