Saturday morning, 10 a.m. It’s sunny and crisp as I pull up to my local Democratic office. Gear check: comfortable shoes, hat, gloves and chapstuff. There’s a spring in my step and a smile on my face. Canvassing today!
Inside, there’s coffee and donuts and collecting packets for the canvass. The packets include your walk map, lists of names and addresses of Democratic voters and a script. I could go alone, but I prefer a walk partner. Both to commiserate and cheer with. More importantly, for me, a walk partner shares tasks and its easier for both of us. Sometimes, we do odds and evens, making our way on blocks that maybe we’ve never seen before and talking to people who have never heard of our candidate.
So off we go, into the neighborhood. We check where we are, house numbers and names. The first door knock and the next. This is where the real work starts and the reward.
This is a chance to interact with my neighbors on a meaningful level about a candidate I know and believe in. Some people aren’t home, aren’t answering or aren’t interested. When someone comes to the door, we are elated. We establish rapport by introducing ourselves and our candidate. We offer information, answer questions and discuss the ideals and values of the candidate.
Even when the weather is awful, the idea that I can be an instrument of political change is enough to keep me going. The people we meet make it worthwhile and perhaps, in part because of us, our candidate will garner another vote.
The camaraderie in a Democratic campaign office after a successful canvass is energizing. Our packets are complete and given to the campaign manager. Stories of friendly supportive neighbors are exchanged over the last cups of coffee.
Community building is a civic privilege. Canvassing allows citizens a unique means of connecting with each other, the ability to educate neighbors and effect real change.
That said, walking around talking to people is a great way to lift body and spirit. And at the end of the day, to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes from doing the good work.
Anne Crowe lives in Chicago, near the shores of Lake Michigan. Anne enjoys all aspects of campaigning and volunteers for local, state and presidential campaigns. When not involved with politics, Anne is a licensed clinical professional counselor and works at NORC at the University of Chicago.