Election Day is Coming
Last week, I took a job doing canvassing for the Washington State Democrats in the Eighth Legislative District for candidate Dr. Kim Schrier. On paper, Dr. Schrier looks like a great candidate. She has experience in our broken healthcare system, claims to be a problem solver and was able to raise millions of dollars during the primary season.
I’ve only been out canvassing four times, but I’m already feeling pretty despondent about Dr. Schrier’s odds of flipping the 8th. The campaign has millions of dollars at its disposal, and is working furiously at the one technique that research has shown to be effective, canvassing door to door and asking people over and over and over again for their vote. The most common reaction that I get when I knock on a door is that someone was just there last week or event the day before and that they are sick of the invasion of their privacy and they just want to get away from politics.
Meanwhile, our opponent, a career politician, Dino Rossi is targeting voters in a different way. While he does have some canvassers out in the community, it looks like most of his efforts are directed toward smearing Dr. Schrier in any way possible and in every way possible on social media and ads on freemium content online.
While I’m grateful that the Schrier campaign is willing to pay me a decent wage to get exercise and to walk around in different communities, I’m saddened by the hostility that I face when I knock on a door.
Last night at one of my last houses, a woman said that someone had come by just the night before and that our campaign was the like Jehovah’s Witnesses of politics. As someone who frequently has Jehovah’s Witnesses come to my door and who gets frustrated each time, I can’t help but relate to what she said.
At least Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons coming to my door have good news to share. I can’t say the same thing about this political campaign. I'm working hard because I'm genuinely frighted for the future of our country. Our leadership isn't addressing the issues that truly matter and they are hammering away at what divides us rather than what brings us together.
Instead of talking about how our rights are in peril or how a lack of environmental regulations is putting the future of our country at risk, we just talk about problems without actually specifying solutions. It makes sense because with problems as complicated as our ours, the solutions are difficult to actually put into layman's terms that can be described in less than 30 seconds.
Democrats need to reclaiming patriotism and work to restore faith in democracy. This might be our last chance and we need to throw everything into it. Our problems might be complicated, but what Americans are good at is rising to challenges and making the kinds of sacrifices that will pay off in the long term. We all want our country to succeed, no matter which side currently holds power.
The key to democracy is not just getting people to blindly vote along party lines and then not pay attention for two more years. Democracy, at its core is about average citizens actually participating in the process of running their government and making their communities better.
People complain about taxes, but if they get to see first hand what their taxes pay for, they might think better when they pay that bill. We need to recognize the police, firefighters, teachers and even construction crews who are working hard to make their communities better. The public employees of our community are valuable and we need to recognize the successes. Simultaneously, we need to root out corruption that wastes our resources.
Instead of just going door to do and trying to engage with over-worked people in their small amount of private time, we have an opportunity to invite people to actually engage in their community and to show that we will listen to their concerns. The Democrats need to show that they are responsive to their community and that they can be trusted to take care of minor concerns. That they have a system set up to communicate issues to those who are capable of solving problems.
Democrats need to celebrate the concept of democracy and to show that they are the ones who should be trusted to implement the policies needed to make sure that our country can thrive. They need to celebrate that we have schools, parks and community centers where people can come together with their neighbors. That is what our tax dollars pay for and what makes our country a great place.
People make fun of millennials as being the trophy generation, but I don't understand why we aren't giving more trophies and recognition to those making our community a better place. I do my work as an entertainer and whenever I get in front of people and perform a magic show, I -always- bring a volunteer up on stage. That's not because I need help to do my trick, but because I know that making someone else look like a hero will please my audience. By putting the spotlight on someone else, I get reflected glory, which puts me in a better light than hogging glory. By honoring our public servants, we can show how tax dollars are being put to good use and how our system of government is working...even if only in small ways.
People can be trusted to do the right thing. Democrats need to reclaim the moral position that they want everyone to vote, and contrast that with Republicans like in Georgia where they do everything they can to prevent people from voting. Democratic campaigns can work with groups to host events where people can learn how to engage in their communities. They can show how they are responsive to problems via a campaign and prove that they are worth the vote.
Just going door to door asking for a vote might have been effective in past campaigns, but this might be our last chance to truly have open and fair elections. We need to celebrate that, and celebrate democracy. Imagine if instead of an eager young person coming to your door parroting a short line, instead you received an invitation to come celebrate voting, to thank a public servant, or to learn about media literacy, or even have the opportunity to just do something small to make your community better along with the candidate or surrogates of the candidate. Imagine if instead of just asking for a vote, a candidate is asking you what you think is needed to make your community better. Imagine if they then actually act on those needs and is responsive to input from the community. That's how representative democracy is supposed to work.
Campaigns have millions of dollars to spend on marketing. Imagine that instead of just talking and making promises, they use that money to show what they would do with the trust being placed in their campaigns. That they would actively start building the kind of network needed to communicate and make the kind of difference that is needed in our communities. That is how Democrats could show that their way is the right direction for our country.