If 53-year-old Claire Mahoneys approach to life could be summed up in a paragraph, you would do no better than retelling a story from the Charlotteans preschool days.
My mother came home one day and all the door knobs were missing, recalls Mahoney, noting her mom instantly knew the culprit. She walked into my room, and I had them all lined up on the bed. She wanted to know what I was doing, and I told her I had to see how they worked.
Five decades later, the Texas-born Republican still questions what shes told by politicians, still seeks proof of the truth and is prone to speak her mind once its made up.
To say shes proudly Republican in the 2012 election is an understatement.
If Mahoney is not working the phones for the partys candidates, shes knocking on doors. If shes not knocking on doors, shes putting out signs. If shes not putting out signs, shes attending strategy meetings for all of the above.
This is my life right now, Mahoney says. Its not just making phone calls and knocking on doors. Its about knowing how my neighbors are voting. Its about talking to the people you work with, to see how theyre voting. Its about making people passionate about the issues.
Somewhere in the midst of all this volunteerism, she runs into her husband, Phil, and her son, Carter, who recently graduated from college. Luckily, both of them are Republicans, though Phil admits he has in the past voted for a Democrat with the right conservative values.
He says he might do so again and doesnt think that would be a problem at home. But he does admit his wife is passionate about politics. In fact, he says they have to watch televised political debates in separate rooms.
Shes loud, while Id rather sit and listen quietly, he says. I can still hear her in the next room. If you havent figured it out, my wife is articulate on the issues. Shell call someone out for their answer (during debates) or give the alternative argument somebody should have given.
And shes usually right, by the way.
Coincidentally, her parents were Democrats and not that politically active during her younger years. That changed after the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the ascendance of Lyndon B. Johnson. Suddenly, her mother started having differences of opinion with the direction the country was headed, and a household of strong-willed Texas Republicans was born.
Mahoney registered to vote at 18 and has been casting Republican ballots ever since, though it wasnt until 9/11 that she got knocked into hyper drive. She is now a student of the nations political system, watching congressional hearings on C-SPAN, reading voraciously and studying all sides of issues before drawing conclusions.
In the process, Mahoney has developed a belief that America succeeds when people are self-motivated, strive to achieve and take pride in their accomplishments.
She also believes this election could be the most important in her lifetime, if not the most important in the nations history.
Chief among her concerns is the economy, followed by a fear that individual freedom is threatened by governments growing bureaucracy.
Twenty-three million unemployed people is not American to me. Our country can do better and should do better, she says.
Bringing this stuff up is what I do. This is not a time to be shy.