An open letter to Jon Tester

For the first time in my life, I got off my *ss and canvassed for a candidate. For you, Mr. Jon Tester. I rang doorbells, knocked on doors, and stuffed envelopes into doorknobs. I met up with a few dogs and not a few of my neighbors. Four hours on Saturday, another couple on Sunday. My feet hurt.

The good news is that the overwhelming majority of my neighborhood is pulling for you, Jon. But that shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s a left-leaning city. Even Republicans are voting for you — some grudgingly — because character matters to a lot of people, and Conrad Burns’ antics sickens them. The bad news is a lot of people are getting tired of the over-saturation of ads and vitriol and accusations. (I could go into a rant here on public service and trying to reach disinterested voters, and why the number of commercials is really their fault — after all, if everybody followed the issues, nobody would need the bombardment of ads at election time? But a fact’s a fact; they’re just plain tired of hearing the spin.)

And there are still undecided voters. You’d think by now they’d all have chosen sides, but something funny has happened along the way. Burns has gotten under their skin. Not with his message about appropriations or that you’re a “liberal,” but that a lot of people don’t trust you, Jon. Conrad’s lowered the bar and his rhetoric has convinced them that you’d be no better.

Here’s how I talk to people I meet who doubt your convictions. I tell them I’ve met you. I’ve met your wife, Sharla. I’m met your mother. I’ve shaken your hand and looked in your eye. I’ve talked with you and the people you grew up with, your friends, and your most ardent supporters, and we all come away saying the same thing: he’s for real. This is not an act.

I tell them about the farm. I tell them about your experience as a butcher. I tell them you weren’t the guy the DC insiders were pulling for in the primary, that they were p*ssed as all h*ll, and they wanted to run your campaign for you, and you said “no thanks,” and have run a Montana campaign, by Montanans, and for Montanans. And you’d say “no thanks” to them again when you got to Congress.

Well, I gave this speech to one undecided voter. And he looked at me askance. He wasn’t sure. Finally he said, “give me your number.” He would vote for you, but he wanted my name, number, and address so that if you weren’t for real, if you sold us out in Washington DC, if you’re just another player looking to score big with the parties and trips and perks of the office, he’d call me.

I gave him my number, Jon.

If you’re ever at your desk in Washington, and someone offers you a deal you know isn’t right — even if it’s something that we won’t notice, even we bloggers with nose for scandal and a thin skin for impropriety — I want you to think about that neighbor with my telephone number tacked to his wall.

We’re out there risking our reputation in our communities. We knock on our neighbors’ doors and we tell them that they should vote for you, not because of your policies or your politics, but because we trust you. Their co-workers. Their neighbors. Their friends.

And if you ever take a little, or cut some corners, it’s not just you who’s responsible. You wouldn’t be hurting just yourself. You’ll be hurting each and every one of us who walked the streets and dialed the telephone for you. While you can skate by on the power and privilege of your office, we can’t. We’ll still have to live here and suffer your shame in our communities.

Conrad Burns has forgotten that. You won’t. I trust you.

Posted by touchstone

  1. This says it all in plain english. After all the years, my friends still don’t pick up the phone, knock on a door, or stand on the street with flyer in hand. They can’t understand how one person would subject themselves to so much personal attack and stress for the sake of politics. You have to hang yourself out there pretty far to engage Joe Sixpack on values, issues, and candidates. Montanans perhaps even more so because we can smell bullshit a mile away. And nobody wants to come home with the smell of BS on their breath after a day of talking politics. You did the right thing this weekend. Be glad you did it for Jon, he quite literally is the best candidate I have ever met and I have a feeling he will not let us down.

  2. I don’t think you’ll have to worry about repercussions, especially when Tester is not in Washington next year.

  3. Eric – you’re a sentence in need of a period.

  4. Maybe so, Eric. But you will have to deal with repurcussions when Burns gets indicted.

  1. 1 Left in the West » Blog Archive » Jay Has Some Words for Jon

    […] Jay went out knocking doors for Jon and reminds Jon that he owes all of us on the ground. He doesn’t owe us jobs or earmarks or specific votes. Rather, he needs to know that we’ve trusted him to not be just another politician and we’ve told others that they can believe us. […]

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