Estes Park, CO. “Wow, what a beautiful place. And neighboring National Forest! These people will be very interested in our cause.” So wrong. If there’s one thing I’ve learned while canvassing, it’s that often, people who own a patch of the country’s most beautiful land, couldn’t give a fuck about the rest of it. One man followed me around in his Suburban, cell phone in hand, threatening to call the cops if I didn’t leave. “You better pack up your duffle bag and get out of here before I really get mad.” I didn’t leave and he didn’t call the cops. What a bitch. The exception was a tiny 91-year-old woman who gave me 5 dollars, an apple and her life story.
The exception was the house at the end of this road. A burly man with a grey goatee came out to greet me before I got to the door. “What the hell are you doing here? There’s a No Trespassing sign at the top of that hill. That means you buddy!” With that he shoved me, hard, off of his porch, and kept coming after me. I slowly backed up, and couldn’t contain a smirk. I was being assaulted! How cool is that? “Take it easy man. This is my job. I’m on a political campaign.” I backed up the road exactly the same way I do when a hostile dog comes after me. It occured to me that this man may very well kick my ass. But he didn’t. “Buzz off! Beat it!”
Niwot, CO. A small town outside Boulder. A diverse, cozy middle class suburb. Another thing I’ve learned is that the concept that the middle class are apathetic or shallow is just not true. I’m often guilty of stereotyping while canvassing, but you never know how a neighborhood is going to give. My best days canvassing have been in bland suburbs among the working middle class. Almost always they listen. Usually they care. Sometimes they give, and beyond their budget. One nice woman signed up and then said, “Can you do something about all the dog poop in this neighborhood. There are signs everywhere, but they don’t help.” The exception was a man with a massive library and a beautiful house. He had long grey hair and a beard, and answered the door with a “Get Bush out of Office” shirt on. I thought it was a slam dunk. I told him I liked his shirt, and introduced myself. “I respect what you do, but canvassing is an invasion of my privacy. You shouldn’t be coming to my door.” SLAM. The only true slam I’ve ever had. SLAM.
I’ve grown a loathing for these reclusive, intellectual liberals. There’s a ton of them in Colorado. Their attitude is often that they did their best in the 60s, now they want to be left alone. They wear their T-shirts and hide in their huge houses and chat about how terrible the administration is over cocktails. They have thousand dollar paintings on the walls and Land Rovers, but no time to talk with canvassers, who are following the tradition of Chavez, Hoffman and Nader. We’re knocking on doors trying to get people to take action, and what do they do? Slam the door. Fuck you. I fantasize with ridiculous exaggeration: When the revolution comes, I’m going to your door next, and I’m going to burn down your million dollar house with your expensive paintings as fuel.
There’s another phenomenon that bugs me to no end. A car in the driveway has 10 bumpers stickers: equal rights, save the whales, Tibetan fucking freedom, No W, War is murder. You name it. Do they give? Do they join? Do they even listen to my pitch? Nope. These people wear their causes like the latest trend. Five different rubber bracelets, lapel ribbons. Don’t buy it. Politics are a way for some people to make a fashion statement. I’ve come to believe that being progressive inherently means acting, because that’s the nature of the movement: causing change. Conservatives can sit back and watch the status quo, because that’s the backbone of their philosophy. Not liberals. So enjoy your bumper stickers and T-shirts and stay at home, waiting to die. We don’t need your money.
This is my favorite new member I had during my time in Colorado. This guy wanted to talk to his wife and told me to come back later. This almost always means they won’t become members. I swung by later and found this note and a check wedged in his door. This never happens. I almost cried.
Office. These are two of the goofiest members of the group I worked for. When I wanted to take pictures, they did a deadly serious pose. The guy on the right, Connor, has great hair. I once sat in a car with three girls who were watching Connor as he stood on the curb. They had a lengthy, serious conversation about how beautiful he is. Jerk.
Liberals and especially environmentalists can be very annoying. There’s a million different kinds with a million different causes. They’re dorks and go-getters and do-gooders and student body presidents. But the one thing they have in common is that they do thankless work with a passion, and they truly, sincerely, honestly care about this stuff. That’s the biggest surprise I take from my stint canvassing in Colorado.