It has been a few months since I doorbelled for a candidate, but it was good to get back into it. I got soaked, I got lost, I got growled and yipped and whined at. I had a puppy climb my leg and a stormwater puddle fill my shoe. And I got to connect to voters, to people who were interested and engaged. I got to talk about what our city looks like now, things that are going well–growth and the opportunities that come with it–and that are going less well–growth, and the challenges that so often come with it.
I talked to people who answered the door and weren’t on my list, and got to “inaccessible” people on my list. I moved people from cautious to excited. I got told I was “doing God’s work.” I had my lit handed back to me in a huff. I let people know how the District system will work. I tried to make them feel like someone is listening, someone is hearing what hurts and what works in their community, and that someone is willing to act. I got to walk and talk in support of a friend’s candidacy, a first-time experience and one I hope to repeat often.
Walking the streets in a democracy, in service of our democracy, is an undeniable privilege. There are places in the world I couldn’t walk down a street by myself; these are often the same places where people cannot vote to change their government. There are places where people are trapped inside by war or custom, and where it takes insane bravery to step outside. I feel gratitude whenever I doorbell, gratitude that I live in a country where I can walk and knock on strangers’ doors and enlist them in changing our world. I feel so grateful that this public expression of privately-held belief is part of how our democracy happens, that this is something I am allowed to do in my community.
Afterwards, I got to hang-out and chat with some organizers, people of my people, those fast-talking, fact-spitting, often patient and always excitable people. We ate bar food, tried to decipher our rain-addled scribbles, and shared stories. This too is part of how democracy happens: the check-lists and clipboards, the public fellowship and quiet conversations about the race, the people who spend 5 hours on a Sunday walking fast and talking slow, making our democracy go.
“If you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all.” ― John Green, Paper Towns