The Value of Door-to-Door Canvassing

So, yesterday I’m in the bedroom trying to figure out how to make our TV work better (“Stupid TV! Be more funny!“). Because when you cut out cable, it doesn’t cut out your craving for a steady stream of sweet, sweet televised media, even if it’s only Family Ties reruns and X-Games highlights, and you have to hang an antenna out your window to get them.

My six-year-old son comes running in and says, “Dad, there’s a ding-dong at the door!” He meant someone had rung the doorbell, but little did I know how accurately he was also describing the bell ringer.

By the time I got to the door, my wife had already opened it and was engaged in conversation with a campaign volunteer who was canvassing for Jenn Gray, a candidate for Alabama’s state House of Representatives. The volunteer was a middle-aged lady with salt-and-pepper hair and a definite Whole-Foods-frequent-shopper-club vibe. Any question about where she or her candidate were coming from was answered immediately by the “blue dot in a red state” pin on her collar, announcing to all that she was set apart from all the ignorant straight-ticket Republican voters in the state by being a super-enlightened straight-ticket Democratic voter.

Now I admit, I may have a tendency to jump to conclusions and make assumptions about people based on little tells like that. So I hereby apologize to everyone who has one of those “blue dot” bumper stickers who’s not a self-righteous jackass. However, this particular blue dot did everything in her power to convince me of the accuracy of my assumptions.

Bear in mind, this visit was happening right at lunchtime, and our kids are climbing all over my wife and me begging for food, Oliver Twist-style: “Please, good sirrah and madam, might we trouble you for a luke-warm corndog, or perhaps a mouthful of tortilla chips?” Actually there was probably more screaming than that.

But ignoring all that, and every polite body language signal we could think of for “Go away,” our canvasser bore right in, listing for us, repeatedly, all the reasons we should vote for her candidate. These all boiled down to variations on one of two themes: 1) She’s against “all that corruption,” which is really a bold stance considering all the success of candidates who come out in favor of corruption. And, 2) most importantly, she is a smarty-smart-smart-smartypants. She has a chemistry degree! Which, as we all know, is the number one requirement for a good legislator, considering how much they have to deal with┬áspectroscopy and carbon dating and whatnot.

And so she continued, at length, to emphasize how smart her candidate was, and how smart she was for supporting her candidate, and how much smarter they were than all those dummies on the other side. She was the perfect stereotype of the liberal political activist: utterly certain of her intellectual superiority, utterly disconnected from her audience, and oblivious to any social cues that she might not be winning us over.

But here’s where the effectiveness of her visit comes in. At one point in her long (have I mentioned that she wouldn’t stop?) presentation, she asked if we knew the name of our current representative in the state house. We admitted that we did not. She nodded sagely and said, “See? That’s how you know he’s not doing a good job.”

Well, no, I thought. That’s how I know he’s doing a very good job of staying the bleep out of my life. If every politician were doing such a good job, I would be a happy man indeed.

She then informed us that the incumbent’s name is Dickie Drake. And in a flash, I went from not knowing anything about him to being the biggest Dickie Drake fan in the world. There is now no force on earth that could keep me from voting for Dickie Drake this November. I would literally crawl naked over broken glass from my house to the polling place to cast my ballot for him.

So you see, good, old-fashioned door knocking really can make a difference in elections. Thank you, canvasser lady, for educating me on our state’s desperate need for me to cancel out your vote.

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