The Poster Wars
I volunteered for the local Clinton campaign effort and plastered the sliding glass door of my ground-floor apartment visible from the main walkway of my complex with Clinton/Gore signs.
While MTV was rocking the vote, I was working a little closer to home.
After seeing a particularly nasty and rhetoric-filled Republican commercial, I bought some poster board and markers. Under the headline "DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE!", I bullet-pointed the opponent's claims and dispelled them. When I was finished, I taped my work of art to my glass door and took great delight whenever anyone stopped to read it.
A few days later, I was in the communal laundry-room and happened to glance out the window. There, on the door of an apartment two buildings from mine, was another hand-drawn poster. "IT AIN'T HYPE!" it screamed and, one by one, carefully rebutted the points I'd made.
Furious with youthful indignation, I stomped back to my place and created a new poster. Calling this one "REPUBLICAN SCARE-TACTICS!", I listed what my neighbor was asserting and why it was malicious and wrong. I smugly taped it to my door, thinking I'd had the last word.
Not to be outdone, my neighbor replaced his poster the following day. "YEP, I'M SCARED!" it read, detailing his opinion that a Clinton presidency would ruin the country.
I shot back again. Undaunted, he returned fire. And so it continued for the final month leading up to the November election.
The other residents of our apartment complex loved it. "Who needs to watch the debates when you have this?" I overheard one of them say. Dubbed "The Poster Wars" by apartment management, it began to attract visitors from surrounding complexes and even got a write-up in the local paper.
Curious about my anonymous sparring partner, I asked around and found out he was a war veteran who was particularly infuriated about the prospect of a draft-dodging Commander in Chief. I remember thinking to myself, "An old white guy. No wonder he doesn't get it."
I think that was the prevailing attitude that got Clinton elected not once, but twice. An "us against them" mentality. And yes, I worked on his second campaign as well, but it didn't have quite the same luster. By that time, I'd moved to another apartment complex where no one seemed to care enough to fight with me.
Looking back with a little more age and wisdom, I've long since forgotten how maddening my neighbor was. I think of him with begrudging respect now … and wish everyone approached politics with the same conviction of principle.
Apathy is far more dangerous than a difference of opinion.