Q. Why are you writing this post?
A. Mostly, to suggest that maybe you should go knock on doors too. Also (as usual) because I had a few interesting thoughts and I like to talk.
Q. 175 sounds like a lot!
A. Yes, it is. 3 * 3hr slots, a little more than 50 doors each. I don’t necessarily recommend doing 9 hours in a row, but if you’re fired up, whatever. You can just do 3 hours. It’s a nice day outside. Have a nice walk.
Q. How much chutzpah do you need?
A. Kind of minimal, really? It felt a little out-of-body, like I don’t have to be Dan now, I just have to be this automaton who knocks on doors and roughly does this script. That was interesting.
Q. How thick of a skin do you need?
A. Not really that thick. I had one cranky old lady go “you guys are really getting to be a nuisance!” and one 40ish jerk say coldly, “can you please leave now?” And then I had one super nice lady tell me I should go into politics because I have a lovely personality, and a lot of super gracious thanks. I’d say it was about 20:3:1 ok:really great:bad responses.
Q. Why this election?
A. Not because Hillary is The Best Ever. (She’s fine.) But because the gap between the candidates is the biggest I have ever seen. I am more sure than I’ve ever been that this vote is the correct one.
Q. Is this really a good use of your time?
A. Beats me. A lot of people were not home. I have no idea how many extra votes I brought in today. One guy somewhere said, though, that an hour of volunteering brings in on average 5 more votes. So, kinda, I voted 45 times today! That’s way more than I would have otherwise! (I have no idea where that 5/hr comes from. I’m gonna run with it though.)
Q. What’s another reason I should vote?
A. Because if you only vote sometimes, you’ll get on the list I had today, the sometimes-voter list, AKA the list of “we think you’ll vote for us but we’re not sure you’ll actually get out and vote, therefore we’re going to canvass and phone you a bunch to make sure you actually vote!” If you vote all the time, nobody’ll bug you.
Q. Did you feel ethically weird doing this?
A. Yes, of course! I feel like ads on the internet are a monstrosity, and that one of our inalienable rights, generally, should be the right to peace and quiet. I guess I consider this an extreme measure for an extreme time where, according to 538, we may have to play two-bullet Russian Roulette on Tuesday.
Q. Don’t you think that’s overdramatic?
A. Maybe. I also think it’s quite plausible that President Trump could start World War 3. The best case scenario is we do nothing for four years, and given climate change (among other big risks), we can’t really afford to do even that.
Q. What was the most fun part of this thing?
A. Probably batch 3, when they upgraded me to “pretty advanced canvasser” and sent me on a difficult mission: talk to a bunch of people who were mostly inside an apartment building in Hazelwood. This required sneaking in through a back door, aided by a kind resident I met outside. Most of the people were kinda old and kinda poor. A lot of em were real nice, and I felt a little James Bond.
Q. Tell me some other thoughts you had.
A. So when we bug you to goddamn actually go vote, we’re talking to System 1, the fast one. We’re using all kinds of tricks because they’re like one percent more likely to make you actually do it. Like, help you make a plan to go vote. (“I’m going to stop at the polling station on the way to work, and then I’ll get coffee at the Starbucks next door and go on to work.") Or, make you promise me (a stranger) that you’ll go vote. But I feel weird talking to your System 1, so I keep feeling like I have to make excuses and reasons that I’m actually talking to System 2. Like, “some people find it helpful to make a plan.” Or “someone said I should tell you this.” We all know that you’re a hyper-rational System 2, but like let’s just futz through this game, just for me, c’mon please?, that (secretly) tricks your System 1.
Q. That was interesting. Another, please.
A. It’s nice that we had flyers to hand out. That way we could have a pretty common, no-conflict way to wrap up the conversation, or give you an easy out if you don’t want to talk to me but don’t want to be a dick. (Thanks, by the way.) It was a nice way to save face. As usual, human interactions need more ways to save face.
Q. One more deep thought?
A. Man, this is totally an information problem! Why did some people say “6 people already canvassed me, go away”? Why did we not get them off the dang list already?
Q. That wasn’t deep, that was nerd-rage-shallow. Give me a deeper thought.
A. Sure: plausible nonpartisanship. Sometimes I’d knock and people would say “who is it?” and I kept trying different options. Like, maybe “A volunteer to help get out the vote”. I kinda wish my little flyers didn’t even say Hillary on them. Of course it’s pro-Hillary; we’re targeting people who are likely to vote Hillary. But it’d be way easier if I could be plausibly nonpartisan.
This is weird, right, because if I were trying to save the US from Osama, or King Jong-Un, or even Martin Shkreli, we could all agree, yeah, good thing to do, good on you. But as soon as the republicans grab one thing and the democrats grab one thing, all of a sudden it’s holy war. I just want to save the US from an actually bad guy (who even most of the Republicans repudiate!) but as soon as I say “no Trump” then all of a sudden I’m “partisan” and you can comfortably ignore my viewpoint.
Q. Why hasn’t anyone made any bridge “No Trump” jokes?
A. whoop, looks like they did. ehh, statistician humor.
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