Now before I go and start attacking anyone, let me admit a few things. People who know me very well and people who are familiar with my writing knowing that I’m very passionate…some might even say zealous…my closest friends know that I have three basic settings (0) off (1) polite conversation and (10+) flaming sword of Truth in my hand ready to decapitate all who oppose me. There is very little in between. And yes I know this about myself. Which is why when I’m in public I tend to stick around those first two levels because I know my passion will often drive away people rather than bring them in.
That said; let me tell you why I sometimes loathe going in to donate time helping any candidate for any office. The people there tend to fit into one of two categories, they’re either very old or so zealous they make my most passionate moments look tame (usually both). This is not particular to any candidate, campaign or even party (I’ve dropped by the opposition once in a blue moon to see what they were doing, they’re pretty much the same in terms of zealotry). For instance a while back I volunteered time at a candidate’s office (no I’m not going to tell you who, because I like this candidate very much and think they’re far more sane than the kind of people who donate time at these things) I wasn’t there 20 minutes putting labels on letters when I heard one person start raving about how Christ is the only way and another start talking about how they were sad that Ron Paul didn’t win and how the Republican Party needs to start marching lockstep without thinking like the Democrats, and yet another rail against how Common Core was the work of the devil (no, I don’t think they were being hyperbolic) and required students to stop learning how to write. (Also, for the record, the candidate I was there for has not endorsed any of that wackiness). At first I tried polite conversation but politely explaining facts never works with crazy people, and that clearly didn’t get me anywhere so rather than start a fight that had nothing to do with the actual campaign I choose to go for “off” instead of “flaming sword of truth” as the latter would do nothing to help get my candidate elected.
But again this has nothing to with the candidate because I find that no matter what campaign I try to help with, this type of crazy comes out. This helps no one because this kind of person, in the proportion they come out, tend to drive away the more normal people who might want to help out but don’t feel like spending the few free hours they have with rejects from the asylum…and worse, these are the first people to get the bumper stickers, T-shirts, yard signs, et al. for the campaign. Having that kind of public face is only not completely disastrous because it’s true for every campaign on every side (might be why most people avoid politics until the last couple weeks because the first couple of weeks resemble the banjo scene from Deliverance more than the best the republic has to offer).
But honestly I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know.
So why am I bringing this up? Because you have to ignore this problem.
You have to go out and volunteer. Put labels on letters. Show up for rallies. Talk to people. Work in call centers. Walk precincts. Put a bumper sticker on your new car, put the yard sign in front of your house, walk around in the t-shirt for the candidate.
You have to do this. Why? Because if you’re reading Elementary Politics then odds are you aren’t the complete wacko who is going to frighten every one off (no we left all those people on the old site). You know that it’s more important to win the voter than to shout your particular issues to the heavens, especially when those issues have nothing to do with the election. You understand that while religion may be the central focus of your life, it may not be the focus of the person you’re talking to and that unless you’re in church it may not be the best way to open a conversation with. You understand that the more sane and rational people that come out to work for the candidate not only will that mean more voters; fence sitting voters; will be convinced to vote (or even better donate or volunteer). That when the sane people outnumber the nutty ones that will be the all clear for even more people to come and help, which means that even more will be able to get done.
I know what I’m suggesting is annoying. You don’t want to be one of the first rational people who have to initially deal with that level of zealotry. There are so many other things that you would probably rather being doing. I get it. But sane people have to start taking back power (you’ll notice how quickly the Tea Party has devolved into madness when we gave it over to the zealots) or things will continue in the same old dysfunctional way they’ve gone for decades. And someone has to be the first person to do it. You can’t let others go first because others will be waiting just as you are.
You need to give at least a few hours every week to the campaigns you support. End of story. Don’t argue, go do it.