Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dim Sum and Politics with Chris Wong

I got a chance to talk to Chris Wong, who like me volunteered on the Diana Hwang campaign. He was able to get a lot more involved so I thought it would be cool to trade stories. Obviously I am doing the whole thing from memory and chances are I will re-arrange and misquote. But anyway, here are some of the stories on the campaign trail from Chris.

"I didn't actually see you at Kelly's" This was the pub in East Boston where they gathered election night.

"I wasn't there because I had to take care of my children."

"Oh right. Well Diana took it pretty hard. She was very emotional. And since she came in 5th I don't know if she'll run again."

I actually jumped in here and said that it is unlikely that anyone would run again until someone really steps down or moves up from a position. We like our incumbents around here. And the only reason why anyone ran was because Petrucelli took a lobbying job.

I was surprised that Chris was actually my age. For some reason I thought he would be a college student or something like that. He occupational background was mostly in the financial world and recently, Tech start ups. He grew up in New Hampshire in an all white town and speaks very little Chinese.  He is not your typical campaign door knocker activist that I ran into. He was a very clean cut well dressed, "SUITS" type of guy. In fact, even though he is Asian, given the crowd at the Dim Sum place we were at, I knew right away he was the person here to meet me. Everyone else, including me, was kind of grimy looking. So how did he get started?

"Well I always wanted to get a perspective of politics that was different from what I heard on the news and... Do you know of Chun Fai Chan? Well we sat down and we seemed politically aligned. I guess he was involved on the Elizabeth Warren campaign. He suggested that if I really wanted a different perspective, I should dive right in and volunteer. But instead of volunteering for someone like Elizabeth Warren, that I should get involved with something more local."

***Okay I should have taken notes but I forgot how he met Diana exactly. But hey this is a blog so I can always come back and change this... hence the stars to remind me***

"So instead of doing due diligence, "Chris laughed and I laughed with him because I also got involved quite similarly. It wasn't only that Diana was Asian for me. It was actually the MBTA petition that pushed me over to volunteer. For Chris there were issues that showed they were aligned as well. But like him I had jumped in... kind of for the sake of the blog as well.

"But what I was surprised about" Chris continued, "Was that when someone gave me marching orders... I sort of expected them to have all the answers. And that wasn't the case. It was sort of here are some flyers and go stand in front of this building.. and I was surprised by that.... Did you do the calls from your house? and door knocking too? Well I guess the most difficult calls or door knocking conversations for me were, one example was this guy I was talking to and I was trying to explain that Diana was really about getting women involved in politics and his response was, "Women in politics is good and all but I'm really and issues guy." And I was thinking, but didn't want to say, that Women in politics is an issue. I mean there were other callers who knew another candidate personally or were not Democrat or whatever reason outside of my control were not going to vote for Diana. But how did I, having just begin talking with this person, go about trying to convince them to vote for my candidate when they were coming from a different perspective. Do I do a quick Google search on statistics about women in politics? What?"

As I write this in front of the same computer that I made calls from I'm having some of the flashback to my bad calls or personal interactions which were mostly, if you asked someone who they were voting for, "None of your business." usually with some expletives added and a tone of voice that reminded me of the front walk bys of an Impact Model Mugging class.. right before the student goes eyes groin. Chris said that his worst call was when someone said they weren't going to vote democrat anymore because they they thought the campaigns had stolen all the calling lists.

"I explained that I think it was similar to how the white pages sued to work and that I was pretty sure the numbers were public. But I sort of wanted her to apologize for accusing me of stealing her phone number from somewhere."

All the calls are made using Hubdialer btw. So it's not like anyone is actually dialing a number.

But there were good interactions as well.

Chris recalled,"One time I was door knocking in Revere and they would ask me to come in and sit a spell and educate me about strategies for local politics. One family even invited me over for Easter Dinner and I definitely would have gone had I not already made plans. I mean there was a very broad response between getting accused of a crime and being invited to Easter Dinner."

I told a little of my story, which is in post after post of this blog and we talked about some things that we could do going forward. One thing that came up was the power of Unions.

"One of the most powerful moments I remember from the campaign was when the Carpenters Union actually came in one weekend to do door knocking. I mean that was the most people I ever saw there. Usually it was just a few college interns and that sort of thing. It was really an incredible moment to see that."

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