As you know Ms Soapbox tossed her hat in the ring in the Calgary Elbow by-election. On October 27, 2014 the residents of Calgary Elbow tossed it back. Nevertheless, she is of the view that everyone should run for public office at some point in their lives, if for no other reason than to experience door knocking.
Door knocking is considered the most effective grassroots mobilization technique known to man because it allows the candidate to make one-on-one contact with a potential voter.
It can be, to quote Matt Forde, Labour Party door knocker, “revealing, heart-warming, depressing and dangerous, usually all in one afternoon.”*
The Top 10
Naked men: Single men at home consider clothing optional. It is not uncommon to knock on a door at any time of the day or night and be confronted by a young/old//large/small/hairy/hairless man wearing undershorts and pink foamy clogs. Sometimes he has an excuse (just got out of the shower), but most of the time he’s just lounging around in front of the TV. It takes a few such encounters to learn focus on his face, just focus on his face.
Variations on naked men: Variations on this theme include people in their jammies, people in bathrobes, people wrapped in blankets, people brushing their teeth, people who can’t find their teeth and people soaking wet wearing nothing but a towel.
Knocking on the door of the last MLA: Picture this. You’re knocking on the door. It swings open and there she is—Alison Redford, the former premier and previous MLA. It was a potentially awkward moment for both of us, but we managed it like professionals. We talked about the perils of door knocking (naked men). We agreed on the need for comfortable shoes. She wished me luck and off I went.
Knocking on the door of the last MLA’s sister: Ms Redford (the sister) was delightful. We agreed that the Wildrose candidate was not a good choice and since she refused to vote PC there was no alternative but for Ms Redford (the sister) to vote Liberal. And while she was at it, she agreed to take a lawn sign. Cool.
Weird people: It’s a toss-up between the man from Deliverance or the lady from World War Z.
Dogs: Everyone has a dog. And every dog sees door knocking as an opportunity to bolt for freedom…unless he’s ancient in which case he’ll sniff your leg suspiciously causing no end of distraction.
Cats are strange creatures: Indoor cats stare balefully at you through the window. Outdoor cats try to talk you into letting them back inside. Neither really cares about you as a person.
Thanksgiving: No one celebrates Thanksgiving at the same time or even on the same day so you’re guaranteed to interrupt at least one family getting ready to carve the turkey regardless of when you set out or how early you come in. They are not happy about being interrupted and the delicious aromas wafting out of the house are enough to bring you to your knees.
Unlimited junk food: Door knocking is the best way to lose weight. Ms Soapbox ate nothing but pizza and chocolate chip cookies for a month and she’s down five pounds. Unfortunately her knees are shot but that’s the price we pay for democracy.
The best door knocking story ever! Early in the campaign young Andrew and I approached a door. I knocked and a small child answered.
“Is your mommy or daddy home?” I asked.
A woman’s voice floated down the hall. “May I help you?” she said.
(I couldn’t see her, just the child who’d opened the door).
“I’m Susan Wright, the Liberal candidate in the upcoming by-election…” I said.
“Oh, I can’t talk now” she said, “I’m having a home birth”. Home birth…????
“Yikes” I said (or something equally erudite) and thrust my brochure into the hands of the small child and beat a hasty retreat out of there.
And that’s when I knew that the political pundits were right. Door knocking is the best way to engage with your constituents because nothing, not even a home birth, will stop them from opening the door.
Now if we could just figure out how to get the ones who support the other guy to focus on the issues we think are important we’d have it made!
Everyone should run for public office at some point in their lives. Or, at the very least, help a candidate go door knocking. It’s one of the few times we get to interact with our neighbours about the issues that matter.
Try it. You’ll like it. And it’s good for democracy.