Friday, October 31, 2008

A Misanthrope's Guide to Political Canvassing

My dad wrote on his blog today about his refrain from political canvassing and phone banking due to his dislike of talking to strangers, and I can't help but marvel at how close the apple has fallen to the tree in this case.

My friend Betsey has set up a Facebook Group, The Barack Obama Swing State Challenge (she has recently relocated to Indiana), and has become a crazy activist, in the very best way. She often sends mass emails urging her friends to "wake the fuck up" and make a difference in the campaign. These emails mostly make me feel guilty, because wild horses—even trucks full of Tootsie Rolls—could not drag me to knock on the door of a random person.

It's not just that I hate street lobbyists and the like; it's that I have a deep and abiding avoidance of talking to strangers. It's inborn, I swear. When I was a kid, I had the most passive lemonade stand ever; it might as well have been performance art: me, sitting silently behind a "Lemonade" sign, watching people bike past with a look of relief. There's a reason that I've never worked in sales. And when I am the buyer, I live in fear that a salesperson will talk to me; I have been known to refuse to enter a store unless there are already other customers inside to distract the merchants. As for the phone, I sometimes avoid calling my own friends, so strangers are definitely out. I would totally go with robocalls—I feel McCain on that one.

Look, I do care, deeply, about this election, and I do feel a lot of guilt over the fact that I can't get over my own fear/discomfort. However, on the other hand, I honestly feel that my lack of enthusiasm would undermine my efforts in this arena. I would rather allow people who are truly gregarious and passionate and confident (with strangers, at least) to win over the swing state voters. I, for my part, will be sitting behind an "Obama" sign on my stoop, silently giving away free lemonade.
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2 comments :

  1. I'm with you on the avoidance thing. Doesn't anyone care about Stranger Danger anymore? (And I think I got mine from my dad too - maybe that's a thing.)

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  2. I feel you, dudes. I haven't done any official campaigning either. But I feel like 4 years of vocally supporting Obama, and generally treating politics as a non-taboo topic of discussion, have both got to count for something.

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