Thursday, August 10, 2006

Running For Office

One of the unexpected benefits of campaigning for public office is the enhanced physical activity in just getting out to the people -- walking door to door. Actually, rather than methodically walking door to door, I go from person to person -- because it is a bird in hand. Knocking on a door, you never know if someone is home or not, but if somebody is out watering the yard, raking or sweeping, or walking -- there’s no doubt that they’re there, so one might as well talk to them. People who are already out, are quite naturally more inclined to encounter people, rather than those intruded upon in their houses. Some houses are more conducive to interaction than others -- as though they are part of the street, rather than fortresses away from it.

That can lead to a series of 25-50 yard dashes, which not surprisingly, keeps one in good shape -- while impressing on-lookers that one is indeed a go-getter. There’s nothing to build credibility as much as seeing how their neighbors react to the “pitch,” with many previous visitees, then becoming one’s biggest boosters -- honking approval as they’re passing, as though long-lost friends.

That is how one becomes “known” in an unfamiliar block -- and further builds confidence in interacting with a neighborhood. It’s a lost art in an impersonal, mass media world -- that I discovered quite by accident by being a last-minute filer for an office. Thus I had no funds, a darn good one-page flyer, and the Party made 1,000 copies of my flyer. However, the weakness of my district was the immediately walkable area right around my neighborhood -- where I’d control my own destiny just in the effectiveness of making that contact, which is precisely what people wanted -- a personal audience with their representative -- in an authentic manner of their own capabilities, on their own turf.

It is the walking “talk story” tour -- that I probably more than anybody else, feel comfortable and confident at conducting. In one of many former lives, I conducted exercise instruction at virtually every opportunity and venue. So it is easy to morph personal training into personal campaigning. Both are about fitness -- and is that person a living testimony of what he is talking about?

The major complaint of most people is the feeling of distance and unresponsiveness from the political process -- speaking in a foreign language of bureaucratic jargon. That is what the mass media particularly, does not want to acknowledge, because that is their role as interpreters and intermediaries -- that disappears, if people can communicate with each other directly.

In the mass media world, the editor presumes to speak for the people as well. And so the source as well as the consumer can be misled and controlled -- by the intermediary, if that is their objective -- to maintain this control of distrust and suspicion of each from the other. Those who rely on the mass media for their “information” have a much higher distrust than those who obtain their information of the world directly from their own interactions -- in face-to-face encounters. It is the preferred method of campaigning if at all possible.

2 Comments:

At August 10, 2006 9:44 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

These days, it’s very easy for people to do anything anonymously -- but if they have to be known doing it, it is a barrier many cannot cross comfortably. So there is a greater willingness to stuff 1,000 envelopes than to ask one person face to face to vote for a candidate. That is the unfortunate reality of many people’s existence now -- people wish to, or expect to be unknown, anonymous, a nobody -- yet there is that vague desire for fame and fortune, to be known (and to know others), which cannot come if people remain anonymous, one of the indistinguishable pack. Thus many people will blog anonymously -- reinforcing their anonymity, for they don’t know what reason anymore.

That is the consequence of the old mass media culture and conditioning -- reinforcing the notion that one is merely a faceless statistic -- and not an actual, complete reality. People are a composite of many generalizations, rather than the depth of individual, unique personalities. Many people are convinced they “know” people well -- in this kind of abstraction, without knowing individuals, or caring to know individuals in the depth of actuality. That is the superficiality of mass media information and knowing. It isn’t about an actual reality but only an image of it -- a gross generalization.

But when one has a chance to experience the authentic, one knows what is not authentic -- but in the mass media world and culture, that exposure is not an option. The authentic, the spontaneous, the genuine, is edited out. Only the manipulated and mediated, is what is allowed to be witnessed. That is the entirety of that world. And people reinforce that reality in their behaviors -- imitating the stilted language of public speaking, which is about seeming to be impressive and officious.

But among a small group of news junkies, that is the entirety of their lives -- which they feel they are entitled to impose upon everybody else. That is particularly true of what some people have come to regard politics -- as people hopelessly locked in perpetual argument with one another, fighting over every petty difference to assert their moral and intellectual superiority daily. Fortunately, that only happens mostly in the mass media culture.

My favorite encounter is meeting those who say upon parting, “I’m telling everybody I know about you and making copies of your flyer to give to them.” This is how revolutions get started.

 
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