When was the last time a political candidate came to your door? I hope it was recently.
I have found that candidates who are elected and re-elected to office do so after spending many days and hours canvassing the area they seek to win in an upcoming election.
I am speaking of local politics now.
If a candidate is seeking a local office they should seek to meet the voters face to face and eyeball to eyeball. That seems to be true of candidates who think, “Everybody knows me. Why should I go door to door?”
Printed advertising is of great benefit. It gets candidates’ names and faces into places, repeatedly, that is just physically impossible to do face to face.
A politician recently estimated that every printed political ad is looked at for eight seconds at a time. I have no idea where that statistic originated but there was probably a lot of money spent on studies that arrived at that conclusion. Certainly, candidates must have advertising budgets but there is sometime about a person-to-person visit that seems to seal the deal.
Think it’s not true? Have you ever met a celebrity face to face? Wasn’t that much different/special/more intense (take your pick) than just seeing them in a movie?
Now, there is also the responsibility of the voter to question candidates.
If a candidate comes to your door, do you make time to speak with them? Do you have a list of questions ready if you get the opportunity to question a candidate? Do you attend political meetings where candidates are certain to be in attendance?
You should. Both the Republicans and Democrats in Clay County meet regularly and have special meetings to meet the public.
Most of us are shy about subjects we may not feel qualified to discuss. Political issues are among those.
Reporters are no different. We all remember covering our first political meeting. Maybe it was city council or board of public works and safety. For me, it was both. When I began reporting, it was for a radio station and I was expected to cover all of those meetings plus other local government gatherings.
Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and ask for information.
“No question is stupid” is just as true for voters wanting information as it is in the rest of our lives.
One of the government meetings I did not have to cover in that first full-time reporting job in 1994 was school board.
The school board had just built three elementary schools. Shoddy workmanship had parents angry and because I was not familiar with the issues, my boss said he would cover those meetings.
He made it a point to tell me he asked a lot of questions after the meeting because even though he had lived in that town for 30 years, there was much discussed at the meetings he did not understand.
So it is with voters. Don’t understand an issue? Don’t be afraid to ask.
So, candidates need to buy comfortable walking shoes and voters need to be willing to drop what they are doing for a few minutes and question those candidates who darken their doorways.