Talking to Strangers

Let's talk about canvassing.

It is an art, a chore, a task that needs to be done to be successful at a grassroots campaign.

And guess what. 

After a few becomes fun. 

I know, I know, you're thinking. How can canvassing, talking to strangers, TOTAL STRANGERS, be fun? 

Take it from me, I wasn't always like this.

My parents like to tell a story about me as young child, eating at a McDonald's (a special treat), and wanting more ketchup. But I was too shy to ask the employee behind the counter for more packets of ketchup, and I forced my little brother to do it.

Now, I spend my weekends knocking doors of total strangers to ask them very personal questions about their political concerns and issues they deeply care about. And still, at the beginning of each time, I am a little bit nervous. 

But then I remember. This is important work. I am knocking these doors because I want to find out about them, what they are concerned about, if they plan to vote this year, and if so, what issues are driving their votes? 

Then I tell them about me, why I am driven to run for office - because the people we send to Harrisburg are out of touch with everyday working people, because every year our healthcare costs are skyrocketing, because we must protect and nurture our environment, because we shouldn't be selling out our health for industry profit, because running for office shouldn't just be for the rich and well-connected - and by the time I get through with listing just a few of those reasons, the person at the door and I have found common ground. Or at least, a solid footing to start a conversation. 

And it's not just me having these positive conversations - our volunteers are also experiencing positive feedback and openness to our campaign.

We are knocking doors of voters who haven't been knocked in a long time, and who really appreciate us coming to their door. Here are a few examples of voters who we've talked to:

  • a now-retired Pennelec union worker who still remembers how he felt ignored by his representatives during the lock out in 2013, and who said he wanted to vote for someone who would look out for working people.
  • a woman in her 20's who is registered Independent, and who at the beginning of our conversation said that she usually didn't vote because she didn't feel like any of the candidates were relatable, regular people, and that her vote didn't matter. After a few minutes of sharing my story, she committed to voting for me.  
  • a man in his 30's who has recently switched parties, and who voted 3rd party in 2016, because he feels like no party represents his socially conservative viewpoints, and is tired of being pandered to, and wants representatives to address issues.
  • a woman in her 60's who has health issues and a fixed income, and who has had to forego testing due to the expense. We talked for a good bit and she wants to see a health care system where everyone is covered and pays according to their income. She recognizes how the profit motive of the hospitals and insurance companies is detrimental to our healthcare. 

These individuals, and other voters like them, want to hear from us. They have been left out of electoral politics of central PA for far too long. Their votes, or lack thereof, have been taken for granted by the one-party rule of central PA. We can do better by them, we can improve their lives, and offer them a better political system, but only with your help to reach them.

Can you join us? We are holding another big 5 County Canvass Day of Action on September 15th, with a truly ambitious goal of knocking 3500 doors in one day. Sign up now to join us.  If you'd like to volunteer in some other way, please contact us now and we will put you to work. This campaign can't happen without you. 

Emily Best