Monday, November 3, 2008

Enough already!

Thank the gods it's almost over.

Yes, I, too, have found this year's election interesting, engaging, and at times even gripping. And I admit that I have been moved by the fervor, engagement, and involvement this campaign has inspired in so many folks. But at the risk of coming off like some curmudgeon ...

Let me make it clear that I have had enough of canvassers, volunteers, and pollsters, at either the phone or front door, whether human or robo, from either side of politics, whether I agree or not.

While I appreciate the role that the dispersing of information and point of view plays in democracy (or whatever the system it is we live under), the fact is I don't need a half-dozen phone calls and a door-knocker per day to help me make my decision or to be sure I get out and vote.

For the past several weeks now, my mantra has been: Enough! Got the message, thank you! Now give it a rest!

And lately, that has gone beyond mere mantra, and is now the actual "greeting" I offer these callers and visitors. Especially the ones who still come to bang on our door even though we have a sign in our yard supporting their candidate. Did you think it was camouflage from the enemy? By the time there was still two weeks left in the campaign, I wasn't even nice anymore -- even to canvassers whose politics I agreed with.

"See that sign? That's whom I'm voting for. That's why I put that sign in my yard. Because I am going to vote. For that guy. Got it??"

Hey, as a writer and teacher, I've never been shy about wearing my politics on my sleeve. But this isn't about the voicing of one's political stance -- it's about personal space. My home is my space. If they choose to enter that space and disrupt whatever I might be doing in that space, then that is their choice -- and it's not one I respect. When it comes to canvassers, I feel I do not owe them my time, attention, distraction, information, or even courtesy.

I'd like to note that I speak from experience here: I did my three months as a full-time canvasser for CoPIRG. And my motivations were manyfold: I did it as an exploration, as a tithing, and as service. And even though I experienced the full-range of responses, from engaging, illuminating door-step conversation to threats to my health and safety, every night I came away feeling one thing: Dirty. Rude. Intrusive. Arrogant. When they tried to move me to phone solicitation (because I wasn't agressive enough at the door, they said), I quit -- and went back to my job waitering on rollerskates, where at least the people I talked to wanted to be there talking to me.

In this way, in my mind there is no difference between a Jehovah's Witness, a Greenpeace activist, a Bible salesman, and an Obama volunteer. This is not about content, this is about style. And the style is the message. If someone wants to solicit a conversation with me in some public space, that's their right. But that right comes with the responsibility to respect my private space.

And so, to celebrate at long last the end of this epic election season, I am going to paint and post a new sign for my front porch:

You are entering private, personal space.
No solicitors, salespeople, canvassers, pollsters, politicians, missionaries, do-gooders, or other trouble-makers.
Feel free to leave information. Then go away.

This isn't disengagement. This is respect. This is sanity.

Please respect it.

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