Amy Hunter

Why This Year Matters. Part One

Filed By Amy Hunter | October 16, 2010 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: 2010 Election, Fox News, local candidates, mid-term elections

Let me state, unequivocally, that I detest canvassing.

canvassing.jpgI 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:

  1. No, they will not tell you for whom they are planning to vote.

  2. Yes, not that Jim guy, I hate him.

  3. 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.

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Amy, may I suggest you change your approach script?

First, ask them if they would like to sign up to buy an expensive box of multi-vitamins, automatically shipped right to their door every month, or maybe a six-pack of a health beverage made out of pomegranite juice and acai berries.

Second, then ask if they would like to subscribe to a magazine. Show them an illustrated list that contains no less than two hundred different magazines.

Finally, if they haven't slammed the door in your face yet, ask them your survey questions.

Many of them will be relieved to take the survey.

P.S. If at any time while answering the survey questions they mention the word "Obamacare" give them your schpeel about the pomegranite juice and acai berries again. If they use the phrases "education", "drop-out rate" or "school system", tell them about the magazines again. That will probably shut them up.

It's 2010. Nobody wants people knocking on their doors. The world has changed, we don't need to go door-to-door.

Oh Andrew! You are such a welcome ray of sunshine.

I am curious, why don't we need to go door-to-door anymore? I am fully aware of the value of new media (or social media if you prefer). At the end of my post, I referred to the sheer volume of information we are bombarded with everyday. facebook, twitter, Digg, etc are, sometimes part of the problem, and certainly are not a good substitute for face-to-face voter education and contact. More likely than not, the closest a voter will ever come to talking to a candidate is through someone canvassing.

I don't think social media is the solution. Some are very effective, like Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" Campaign. But, conversation is much more effective. Instead of "canvassing," where we are not welcomed, we need to talk to friends, neighbors, co-workers and on occasion strangers.

Part of our problem is we don't communicate and enroll "others" in our effort. While more of us our "out," we tend to be out with each other. We need to get beyond that. I have friends that have been out for 10 years, yet they've never told even their family. We've made progress, but I think we need to take that next step. Part of the problem is we've never really created a great environment for that - we always portray ourselves as victims in media campaigns. Typically it's during a Referendum and our advertising highlights how we've been treated poorly and how unfair that it. While that's true, a better message is how cool and creative we are.

I suggest that the biggest problem we have is the negative branding of homosexuality for centuries. We have never re-branded ourselves. We should. We don't have anything to be ashamed of, we are creative, clever and at the very least (generally) more interesting than average. We should own that. I think when we do it will make it easier to proudly come out further.

So, I wouldn't suggest going door to door. Instead go heart to heart in your life and make sure to ask those that understand to do the same. The more hearts we touch the closer we are to equality.

I really don't care anymore about what a "candidate" has to say, I want to know what my neighbors and co-workers say, or a family member. I share this as someone who took 35 years to come out and even then I wasn't all the way out. I hid the truth from my business life. It took a lot to take that next step, but I had great results. I no longer fear being who I am - anywhere, with everyone. If they have a problem with it, they have to go somewhere else, not me.

I am encouraging everyone to do the same. There will be some rejection, but there is a lot more understanding. Understanding helps us win.

We all have people in our lives. Tell them. Ask for their help.

I really like your comment.

You are talking about changing internal culture. Once accomplished, the details with external cultural conflicts will work themselves out.

I do (still) care about what a candidate says. I explain why in Part Two-coming tomorrow.

I'm looking forward.

I didn't get part two submitted until this evening. I don't know when it will post.

I am not sure I have guts enough to canvas this area in which I live. Many people open their door only wide enough to poke a shotgun out of it if they see it is a stranger. As far as the politics up here, as I said before, joining the Tea Party for many up here is a move to the left.

I wouldn't go door-to-door (with my own shotgun) but there are some people in your area that are approachable. For every one you find, ask them to find a few more.

Tea Party is about anger and frustration. We are about equality. It a better place to be.

It is true, there are some locales that just shouldn't be canvassed in- no matter how committed one is.

The "move to the left." line cracked me up ;-)

Sadly it is not really a joke up here in Northern Lower Michigan about the "moving left by joining the Tea Party". Some might think Michigan is a middle of the road state but the truth is the bigger cities tend to be moderate or Democratic but the outlying areas tend to be very Republican and conservative. Residing roughly 240 miles from Detroit tends to change not only the climate weather wise, it also tends to change it socially and politically. There are some living up in this area, with family trees that resemble stalks of Bamboo, that raise serious doubt as to even if they should to be included as Homo sapiens or if they are in actuality where the Geico Advertisements find the Neanderthals they featured from time to time in commercials. The discussion on that point is still ongoing. :)

Are you in the UP? I spent a Christmas there 20 years ago. That memory confirms everything you said.

No I am considered a "troll" as I live under da bridge. However the rural areas up here are filled with either retirees or the several generations of a given family. Some of which seem to resemble the characters of the moving Deliverance.

I know you are not kidding. I've spent a great deal of time in the northern lower penninsula and the UP.
I was in Munising (Pictured Rocks Nat'l Lakeshore) back when I was pre-op. I came out of the ladies room and my worst fears seemed to have come true. Some local had clocked me. I walked back to my table in the diner feeling the multiple pairs of eyes staring at me. Cindy and I left really fast.

So far I have been rather lucky myself I suppose. I know of one Trangendered friend who got beat up a few years ago, but I have only had a comment or two questioning my gender over the years. Even so my Therapist did recommend something which I took very seriously - buy Pepper Spray and keep it close at hand. She explained even without someone considering you as Trans, it is not totally out of the question to get attacked as a female. Depending on your point of view as to attention being a good thing or not, I generally do not get too much notice. I am closing in on sixty therefore beyond drawing too much attention.

Great stories! Keep them coming.

And door-knocking obviously works. If it didn't, there wouldn't be that many Mormons.