Hixson Homecoming

Hixson Homecoming

by | May 7, 2024 | From the Campaign Trail

The Tennessee I miss, in fifty-two doors

At this early stage of the campaign, I’m still canvassing D doors. I’ve officially knocked more than a thousand of them, according to the voter data. Along the way, though, I’ve talked to countless R voters.

Some of them live with a D voter and happened to answer the door. Others were checking their mailboxes or unloading groceries, so I stopped and talked with them as I walked by. One was spraying weeds in front of a house I was supposed to canvass. We talked for several minutes before I realized it was his neighbor’s house.

I enjoy talking to Democratic voters. Who isn’t comfortable in a bubble? But my interactions with Republican voters have been some of my most valuable.

True, a couple of people have thrown my literature back at me like I’d handed them a spider. One man wouldn’t touch my lit or let me speak. He talked for five minutes about what he imagined I support, and then he closed the door in my face. I’m not sure how he tracked me down without my lit, but the next day he emailed me an apology.

“I appreciate that,” I replied. “These are hard conversations, but we need to have them.”

Far more common were the R voters who said they missed the Tennessee I miss, the place where neighbors got along and politics weren’t extreme.

When I handed my lit to one man, he looked doubtful but then tapped his finger on the bullet point about reproductive rights. He told me that he was an ER doctor, and that he had a patient lose five liters of blood while he waited for Legal to advise him how to treat her nonviable pregnancy.

“If I vote for you,” he said, “you’ll be the first Democrat I’ve ever voted for.”

I would call that “undecided.”

Two days later, a young woman walking her dogs told me she used to vote R but now votes D. “Don’t talk to that guy,” she whispered, nodding toward a man washing his car across the street.

I talked to him. He politely took my lit and read it over.

“You know, we just shouldn’t talk about abortion,” he said, tapping that same bullet point. “Too emotional. We’re all dug in.”

“The problem is, Tennessee’s abortion ban is hurting people,” I said. “If we don’t talk about it, we can’t fix it.” I told him the story the ER doctor told me.

“Oh my God,” he said.

Last week I got a new list of doors to canvass. It included the Hixson neighborhood where my family lived from 1997 to 2013. Just two streets. Fifty-two houses. I know because we used to host the neighborhood Halloween party and I passed out the invitations.

It occurred to me that back then, I didn’t know or care how my neighbors voted. They weren’t Rs or Ds to me.

They were the men who secured our fence and corralled our dog when an oak tree fell in our backyard while we were gone, and the couple that offered to take our kids when I went into labor, and the woman who brought us warm Filipino rolls every Christmas, and the family with the coolest train set ever, and the guy who belted out “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” every time Tim and I walked past his house. One time he had it queued up on his CD player.

Of course there’s been turnover, but no matter.

According to the voter data, I’m supposed to knock six doors in my old neighborhood. I’ll be knocking fifty-two.

If you miss compassion and common sense in state government, please join my campaign. Click to donate, volunteer, or get a yard sign.