Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thank You For Going The Hell Away!

I read with interest this editorial letter from this morning's Washington Post:

Campaigning For a Little Courtesy
Sunday, October 5, 2008; B08

As campaign season rages to a fever pitch, volunteers for Republicans and Democrats scurry from house to house conducting mini-surveys to determine which voters have already made their choices and which remain undecided. For the first time since I was eligible to vote 30 years ago, I decided to join a presidential campaign as a volunteer.

Voters and non-voters alike should know that it is not pleasant to knock on the doors of strangers. I do not like to interrupt tired people at dinnertime or on their precious weekends, but it is the only way I know of to help my country at a time of great adversity. My volunteerism has come as a result of a surprising surge of middle-age patriotism, pure and simple, which requires a great deal of courage and time away from my family.

Which is why I have been appalled at how I have been treated when I knock on doors.

Though I am always apologetic about the disturbance and extremely polite, some people have yelled at me, slammed doors in my face and treated me with unveiled contempt. One woman who looked absolutely terrified when I introduced myself shut her door -- then locked and deadbolted it -- closed her garage doors and raced from window to window to make sure they were secured. At 5-foot-5 and a size 4, standing there holding lists of registered voters, I realize I must look extremely threatening. When I am treated disdainfully, I walk away wondering: Are these people unkind because they have different political views than I do or are they just unkind to begin with?

So I would like to make a plea this election season: Please, when someone knocks at your door to discuss your vote, be courteous.

We are all volunteers, doing what we think is best for our country. You may not wish to divulge your choice -- "refused" is one of the boxes we can check on our forms -- but please let us know this in a polite manner. There is no need to be rude.

The work we do is hard and unpaid. A smile and friendly word from a stranger would be greatly appreciated.

Eleanor Herman Dyment

Ms. Dyment - I have a suggestion. Go away. You may see your volunteer work as patriotic, but I see it as unwelcome and as a monumental pain in the ass.

I'm sure you've heard of the National Do Not Call registry. There are now more than 150 million phone numbers in America on that list - people who don't want to receive intrusive phone calls from marketers. Why would you think they want you knocking on their doors?

In this day and age, I truly believe you will do your candidate more harm than good by going door-to-door to harass people. Your time would be better spent writing a check to the campaign of your choice and encouraging that campaign to develop a direct mail piece.

I know that door-to-door volunteerism has been a crucial part of campaigning. My mother was a GOP activist when I was a kid, and I spent more than a few hours delivering fliers and going door-to-door myself. But we don't live in that world any more. We have 24-hour cable news cycles, and the internet, so there is no shortage of ways for us to hear about candidates. For better or worse, we live in a more suspicious world. I'm not saying we shouldn't be more receptive to opening our doors to strangers, but you are not about to change that social more.

Sorry to pee on your parade, but please don't knock on my door!

John Matthews
Brookeville, MD

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