Rendered Fat Content


Siegfried Lauterwasser:
Outside the Door, Cologne (1950)

" … we might just be GoodNuff to accomplish that."

When The Muse was still considering whether to run for our county's Port Commission, I dreaded one aspect of campaigning. I figured that I could easily assimilate many of the duties of the role of the campaign manager she insisted I become, all but one: Canvassing. I carried a not unreasonable fear of going door-to-door to promote the candidate. This aspect dredged up images of selling vacuum cleaners and collecting for my paper route, my idea of the worst dead-end job, and my least favorite part of running my newspaper route. I was introverted enough to revel in riding my bike six and a half miles every morning, rain or shine, delivering papers. Still, I dreaded meeting the customers I served. I much preferred to be like the milkman, reliable yet unseen. I didn't want to creep around on people's porches interrupting routines. I also feared encountering one of those baby-eating MAGA morons who might try to use me for target practice.

I hesitantly agreed to try to fulfill the role of her campaign manager, a role I've recently renamed Campaign Mismanager because that title better describes the services I provide.
A small city political campaign might be better served by mismanagement than by the more skillful kind. I make many mistakes and have become notorious for not receiving some critical emails or being unable to find some vital documents in the campaign's shared work file space. Through the early and middle parts of the campaign, I was never in any danger of Canvassing, for that job's more of a later-campaign experience, what The Muse calls GOTV, Get Out The Vote, work. The theory insists that personal visits encourage voters, though a visit from the candidate works more effectively than anyone else’s. Still, anyone might drop off a piece of campaign literature. There's even an App to help.

We're entering an era where it will likely become unthinkable to engage in any activity without it being accompanied by an App whose designers swear it will help. So far, Apps have developed a distinctly mixed reputation, with urban legends recounting how an App rerouted innumerable drivers around a traffic jam and into some unpaved mudbank where they were stuck. Dozens needed to get towed out. It's become an imperative, the law, that people should not attempt to text while driving. The App, intended to make users smarter, tends to make them stupid instead. I was almost run over by a mother pushing a pram around a grocery store while texting this week. She was an absolute terror. I tried out the Canvassing App and quickly discovered that if Lewis and Clark had relied upon this App on their voyage of discovery, they probably would have discovered Cleveland rather than a Northwest Passage. Apps are not universally beneficial, but please don't quote me on that. (I am not a Luddite. I am not a Luddite. … )

The App directed me to walk in circles. Down the street, then back up the street, then back down again. I'd turn a corner only to find a few entries later that I'd only been presented with fewer than half the addresses I intended to service on the last street. This App seemed to have been designed to encourage ample exercise. I dropped literature at a few dozen houses in about two hours and probably walked three miles around the four-block range I'd serviced. I started losing the soles from both of my shoes in the process. I was, by objective measures, a mess, and I loved the experience! I overcame the App's help to start enjoying myself—an early Fall afternoon with perfectly ambient temperatures. I wasn't knocking on doors. Quite the opposite, I was surreptitiously leaving a single card advertising The Muse's candidacy. Further, The App had focused me upon only those voters likely to welcome me. It filtered out The MAGAs.

I had license to explore people's porches. I had business which permitted me to get up close and see what my neighbors might be up to. One can tell a lot about someone by the state of their screen door. The App also provided the name, gender, and age at each address, so I felt I was getting to know my neighbors. I experienced confirmation. It turned out that many more than half the houses in the area I canvassed were not inhabited by MAGA Repuglicans, a fact I had not known and felt reassured to discover. What could I possibly have found daunting about fresh air, a license to snoop, and an App to register where I'd dropped literature? Besides walking to Cleveland, my only lingering frustration was that The Muse was gone when I returned, so that she couldn't load some fresh addresses into the App. I'd found a new form of entertainment, maybe even a hobby.

The world might work as my mother insisted; when I face my fears, they often prove toothless. I had dreaded becoming a door-to-door salesman for the campaign, but now I'm faunching to canvass another area. I asked The Muse to load up two hundred and fifty addresses this time, a daunting volume. If I can figure out how to properly sort the list, I might not have to march clear to Cleveland next time. I might have found my calling as a secret call porter, slipping a color picture of The Muse behind people's screen doors. The few times I was caught in the act, the people who caught me seemed even to appreciate my effort. It pays to focus on only reliable voters who lean neutral or blue. We've got the whole rest of this county to do over the next month, and we might just be GoodNuff to accomplish that. I'm tying on my hikin' shoes.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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