As I mentioned earlier this morning, I'm on my way to the IFA tech trade show. And it's not only in Europe, but Germany. And not only Germany, but Berlin. So, I've been a bit wary about the reaction there -- of all places -- to the fact that someone like Donald Trump is one of two candidates running for President of the United States. With this outlandish, at times ghastly, intolerant, racist, bullying tactics that have lead to violence. I've even spent some time figuring out what my response should be if, or perhaps better, when I'm asked about it by some aghast Germans, or anyone there. What I've come up with is, "No, no, Donald Trump is not supported by America, he was nominated by the far right conservative Republican Party. Pretty much the rest of America is appalled by him, and right now he's losing by 8-10 points in the polls."
I figured that was a good start, but I also figured that there would still be a lot of people who would see those Americans at the show and not even bother to ask. But walk by, equally aghast. So, I needed something for that, as well as to create a shortcut for those who do decide to start a conversation. And so, for that, I decided I'd go on the Hillary for America website and buy a button to wear. "I'm With Her" should get the point across. I actually ended up buy two buttons, so I could switch to created some variety. Or maybe someone else in the group would want to borrow one. So, I ordered an "I'm With Her" and "Clinton/Kaine" button. And I waited.
And waited. A month had passed, and I was leaving in a few days. So, I called up to ask if there was anything about the shipment. Oh, yes, I was told, the buttons just came in, and you'll get yours next week. Alas, no good, I'll be leaving before that. So, I was out of luck.
(Question. How in the world could they be out of buttons? This isn't like a seasonal thing where you check your stock every once in a while. It's a presidential campaign with a four-month lifespan. Okay, buttons aren't the most important thing in the campaign. Buttons are out there in the world, and they have bumper stickers and all's fine.)
Except I wouldn't have my buttons for Berlin. What to do? And this is where that larger point kicks in.
Aha, I thought, I'll call a local Hillary for California office. Surely they'll have buttons there. There are about three offices in Los Angeles -- but none have a phone number listed! And searching the web, I couldn't find a phone number in any news stories. There was a Facebook page, so I left a question there. And waited. A few days passed with no answer, so I gave up and tried something else.
The Democratic Party of Los Angeles, yes, that's where to look! And they actually even have a phone number. So, I called. What they don't have are buttons. (How could the Democratic Party of Los Angeles not have Clinton for President buttons?? Well, okay, so they don't...) But at least I could get a phone number to Clinton for California office, and that would be resolved. But -- no, they don't have a phone number for any of the local Clinton campaign offices. So, yes, you know the question now: how in the WORLD can the local Democratic Party in Los Angeles not have a phone number for any of the Hillary Clinton offices in Los Angeles?? But, they don't. So be it.
I had one last option. Don't rely on the telephone. The closet Clinton campaign office to me is near the Los Angeles Airport in Westchester. It's not that bad a drive, about 25 minutes. I could head over there and hope for the best. Surely, though, they would have campaign buttons.
I hope you've figured out by this point that I really did want a Clinton button to wear in Berlin. I don't usually wear political buttons. Or buttons of any kind. But I really want to wear one there. I don't even expect to wear it when I get back. (Though who knows?)
So, I got down to Westchester, found the Clinton campaign office, and went in. It was a pretty big space, lots of desks, and paper and posters everywhere. And two people. One girl was on her laptop, the other guy was wandering around. In fairness, this was around 12:45 PM, so I suspect some people were out to lunch.
Anyway, I explained my mournful story and asked if they had any buttons. And...well, no, they really didn't. They should be getting some in soon, but none there other. Except for those. He pointed to a fishbowl full of buttons. They weren't great, they were a lot larger than something I'd like to wear, and they didn't even say "Clinton" on them. Just a small-ish full-length picture of here and some odd touchy-feeling slogans.
It was clear that I was disappointed by this, but at least it was better than nothing. Not much, but a little. But -- to the guy's great credit, he said "Wait a minute." And he went searching through his backpack and...and he found one of his own Clinton campaign buttons which he gave me!! That's a good guy. No charge, when I offered to pay. He'd be getting more in soon. And take some of those other buttons, too, if you want.
I did, in case others in the group wanted to wear one, as I said. But mainly...I had mine real one!!
And so, I will wear my "Clinton-Kaine" button as I wander around Berlin. And if anyone asks me how could America possibly support...Donald Trump??? -- I'll just point to my beloved button and say that, no, America does not. The far-right Republican Party does. Not America. He's losing by 8-10 points.
Which brings us back to the larger point.
I am absolutely certain that in Battleground States, in even the tiniest nook, there is no problem in the world finding a Clinton for President button. Or finding a nearby Clinton for President campaign office. Or finding a phone number for reading the Clinton for President office. Or finding a packed room of people scurrying around a Clinton for President office. But in Los Angeles, California -- the second largest city in the United States -- finding a button...finding a phone number a campaign office...was one of the more challenging adventures I've been on for a while.
Because I don't think the Clinton campaign is really very concerned about carrying the state...