Let me state, unequivocally, that I detest canvassing.
I dislike the rejection intensely. People, whom you can see sitting in their Barcaloungers, look-up, annoyed that the doorbell has broken their rapt attention to "Biggest Loser." One glimpse of the clipboard in your hand and they go right back to staring at the undulating flesh on the television.
One type of person will open the door and politely ask, "Yes, may I help you?" I watch their eyes glaze over as I explain; "I am with blah, blah, blah, and I am wondering if you are planning to vote this November?" Glazed eye people like these will tell you they "hadn't really thought about it," or they "haven't made up their mind," or they are "too busy to talk right now."
Some are frightened of a person on the doorstep, won't open the door and ask that you slip the literature underneath.
One man surprised me by simply turning away silently and closing the door softly. The movement was so sweepingly graceful and accomplished; he was gone before I began to utter my first question. I couldn't bring myself to be angry, such verve and panache had to have been spontaneous. I'd laugh if it didn't feel so demoralizing.
Did I mention I really hate canvassing?
More rejection on the campaign trail after the jump.
The best rejection, however, is the pro-active kind. These folks are waiting for you, especially the conservatives. Margaret or Toni or Barb from down the block has called ahead and warned them you are coming. You know who they are, because, invariably, a woman will answer the door and tell you to wait while she gets her husband.
These kind citizens have three modus operandi:
- No, they will not tell you for whom they are planning to vote.
- Yes, not that Jim guy, I hate him.
- Not any of those Democrats.
#3 is real trouble. They have a set lecture of sound bites, courtesy of Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, and Glen Beck.
Man: He makes a lot of sense.
Woman (from behind, nodding) : He is a truth teller.
The lectures I've been forced to smile through have covered a variety of premise, but typically share one or more subjects. These themes can be, but are not limited to, twisted logic, moral outrage at something that is not true, moral outrage at something that is not anyone else's business, abject fear of events that are not really happening, lack of historical perspective, misrepresentation of facts and fearless defense of out-right fabrications.
My personal favorite is the "super-combo rant" which manages to encompass all of the above in one continuous hyperbolic sentence. Not withstanding, my award for the most creative use of dogma has to go to the woman who asserted that she and her husband "had not left the [Democratic] party; the party left" them, "when Democrats said it was OK to be gay if you wanted to." I would laugh if these folks weren't so completely serious.
Did I mention it's really scary out there?
It wouldn't seem so scary if it didn't matter so much.
Elections do matter. Especially in years like this one. While I am not a political scientist, brilliant policy strategist, or highly sought-after hired gun, I am involved. And I am well-informed.
Being a well-informed voter is at the foundation of how our democracy works. It is the essential ingredient that goes into good government. Ironically, in a society increasingly awash with information, it has become ever more difficult to be well-informed. Many of us are informed alright; we may also be misinformed, often deliberately by media outlets that pander to our basest instincts: fear, anxiety, uncertainty, greed.
More about why this election matters, perhaps even more than most, coming soon in part two.