I'm in Anchorage tonight after spending the last week or so in Wasilla. Without stepping on the piece I'm supposed to write, I can relate one of the more amusing (and heartening) scenes I observed in Alaska. It took place Friday night at a meeting of the Mat-Su Valley (i.e., Wasilla area) Democratic Party--a group of folks who, in the last three-plus weeks, have become the most motivated voters on the planet.
As people went around the room introducing themselves, one woman described how she "took down a teacher" at her daughter's high school who had an entire pro-Palin wall--full of posters, buttons, and other Palin-phernalia--but nothing about Obama. She complained to the administration and was pleased to report that "his wings have been clipped." The crowded whooped lustily. Another woman groused about all the "Go Sarah!" signs she sees at local businesses on her drive home. She urged a boycott. "If you skip that cup of coffee, don't go in there, they will get the message," she said. (At this point someone observed that the sign in front of the hotel where we were meeting also flashed the words "Go Sarah!" A brief discussion ensued about whether it was still appropriate to meet there, but was dropped when someone else said the manager of the hotel was simpatico and had no say in the matter.)
The brunt of this enthusiasm fell on the local Obama organizer, a tall twenty-something in a sock hat named Ryan Kopiasz. Kopiasz couldn't complete two sentences without being interrupted with a question--often as trivial as where to find the local Obama office, or when the next batch of signs and stickers (and fleeces!) would arrive. One amusing example: The campaign is encouraging supporters to contact undecided voters in swing states to make the case for Obama. Kopiasz explained that Missouri was the swing state with which the mother ship had paired Alaskans. At which point someone asked, "Why not Ohio?" "They're doing Ohio," Kopiasz said, "but they want us to do Missouri." The questioner was unpersuaded: "I think we should do Ohio," he said. Kopiasz demurred again: "The campaign feels that our values in the Mat-Su Valley line up really well with Missouri." This continued for several minutes.*
The highlight of the evening came when Kopiasz led a discussion about what Mat-Su Democrats might write their friends in Missouri. People should explain why they're supporting Obama, Kopiasz instructed, not why they oppose McCain and Palin. "Well, can we at least tell them we're from Wasilla?" one woman demanded. Kopiasz thought about it for a second. "Yes, but stay positive. We want the tone to be positive." Another person chimed in: "I think we should tell them what's wrong with Palin." Several people murmured their assent. "We want to stay positive," Kopiasz pleaded. "That's the tone we're going for..."
The crowd seemed resigned if not quite appeased. A blissful silence descended. Then, a few moments later: "I still don't know how to get to your office." Someone should give this guy a raise.
*This paragraph is written from memory--I didn't take notes on it for some reason--but the dialogue should be accurate to within a word here or there. I only included comments I remembered pretty vividly.
P.S. Special thanks to local Democrats Jim and Julie Ede for extending an invitation.