Actor Justin Long, who has appeared in films like “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” and “Going the Distance,” met with members of the University of Dayton College Democrats on campus Saturday, Oct. 13, before going door-to-door with the group in west Dayton on behalf of the Obama campaign.
It was the 34-year-old actor’s first political visit to Ohio, which serves as a critical battleground state in the 2012 presidential election.
Long said it’s important to persuade Ohioans to vote for the left in November as this election presents a fork in the road in which the country can travel down two very different paths.
“For me, it comes down to compassion,” Long said. “It’s a distinct ideological choice of how people view the world and what they want America to stand for. I think America can go down a pretty amazing path, but I’m also fearful of where it can go under Romney’s leadership.”
Long first got involved in political activism four years ago after two of his colleagues— Kal Penn, best known for his role of Kumar in the “Harold and Kumar” trilogy, and “In Time” and “The Change-Up” star Olivia Wilde—convinced him to do some surrogate work for the Obama campaign in New Hampshire.
Penn would later leave his place on the television network drama “House, M.D.” to join the Obama Administration as the administration director of the White House Office of Public Engagement following some encouragement and persuasion from Long and Wilde.
Long said he was inspired by his fellow actors’ command of political discourse and ability to rouse the excitement of young voters. He was also pleasantly surprised to see the impact their appearances had on voter turnout in the state.
“I think a lot of people look at political endorsements from celebrities with a certain amount of cynicism and that’s often actually pretty warranted,” Long said. “But what I saw with Kal and Olivia was that just being there and presenting the facts can increase voter turnout and have a major impact on the election.
“I’m not qualified to moderate a political debate, I’m a clown for a living, but if I can get someone to show up at the booth who may not have, then it’s worth it.”
Long said what he enjoys most about going door-to-door is the personal interaction with people at their doorsteps and the give and take of one-on-one political discourse—a love of debate he said inherited from his father who teaches philosophy at Fairfield University in Long’s Connecticut hometown.
Long said he recalls dropping out of college as the student loans began piling too high and moving back in with his mother, an unemployed Broadway actress, and his college professor father.
Apart from the environment, Long said he believes issues regarding student loans and college tuition are among the most important in this year’s election.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to catch a couple breaks since then and in my personal self-interest of retaining the wealth I’ve been lucky enough to acquire, it would make sense to vote for Romney,” he said. “But in the grand scheme of things and what the future holds for my children, it’s in my own self-interest to vote for Obama who has progressively defended everything I stand for.”
Long was brought to UD by Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee.
Long will continue his campaigning with a Washington D.C. bus tour before leaving for Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.