The Doorbell and What's Behind It
People confide, "I just couldn't go doorbelling. I don't know enough. I don't know how I could do that."
If you had told me two years ago that a year hence I would be knocking on doors, introducing myself, listening to, and chatting with people I'd never met I would have thought you were nuts.
Was/is it easy to get started? No. Every time I go I still have to give myself a talking to. Every time there are things I'd rather be doing, and yet each time the experience is rewarding. Each time I gain fresh insight on people, life, politics, and the neighborhoods I've driven through for years.
We are all just people. We are fundamentally social. We live naturally in social groups where we interact face-to-face every day. It was a very short time ago, within my lifetime, we quit interacting, we quit sitting on our porches on summer evenings, and we began spending more time in front of TVs and computers than we did seeing each other face-to-face. Conversing with another person on a doorstep is far more natural and genuine than passively receiving tribal information from a screen. Most people respond very well to friendly social contact.
First, let's dispel a few worries. You're not out there by yourself. It is a group effort with at least two in a group. You start shoulder-to-shoulder and after a while start knocking singly but on the same street. The doors you knock are selected, By and large you are contacting people whose profiles suggest they are neither committed Republicans or committed Democrats. Once in a while the data is wrong, but that's a valuable contact to record either way.
No one bites. There is no need for confrontation. You don't need to have a detailed grasp of every position. You're not there to argue. That's pointless and counterproductive. A lot of what you do is listen. Listening is always educational. With a committed, engaged Republican a bit of listening is informative, but mostly you smile and thank them for their time. "Bless and release" is a great strategy. A few of your contacts may benefit just from meeting a non-confrontational progressive. Most committed Republicans (especially the "old school" Republicans) are as pleasant as we try to be. You quickly realize the very few gruff folks you meet are gruff because of who they are, not because of who you are. Smile and move on. It's not personal.
By now I've knocked on several hundreds of doors and chatted with at least a hundred people. On any given day a quarter to a third of the doors are opened. Behind the doors that do open nearly everyone is willing to chat for a few minutes.
Remember the old adage "Never judge a book by its cover?" Knocking on doors quickly teaches you to make no assumptions. I've met elderly grandmothers who major concern is preserving second amendment rights and I've knocked on doors draped in bunting and flanked by flags and behind them met vets whose main issue was thwarting privatization of the Veterans Hospital. Never assume.
We're not going to make a change in our politics by sitting at home, listening to pundits and pollsters on TV, wringing our hands, and lamenting to our like-minded friends. We're not going to change things only by contributing to campaigns (although that is important, too). The way we're going to pull this out of the fire is by interacting with and listening to people we don't know or hardly know and by expressing our concerns, worries, convictions and hopes for a better future. This change isn't going to happen overnight or with the election of one or a few candidates. It is going to take a sustained effort over years. Too long we have been asleep at the wheel. Change is going to happen because we interact with our fellow humans, because we pay attention, because we recognize twisted hate, shine a light on it and call it out. Forces in the Republican Party have bent it over decades. I no longer recognize the party I once knew. It needs to wander off in the wilderness for a while before it will find its way.
This week is time to get started. This Wednesday, August 15th, from 6-8PM come on down to the DCCC Headquarters at 1507 E. Sprague for Canvass Training. Food provided. Get more details and RSVP here.
Keep to the high ground,