Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
 
Knocking on your neigbhor's door?

This post from Jude Nagurney Camewell at Iddybud got me thinking about American politics in a sort of meta-way. She opens with a quot from Howard Dean:
"We had thousands of people from all over America come to Florida to knock on doors. But the Republicans had thousands of people all over Florida knock on their neighbors' doors, and that's more effective"
Jude lives in Onondaga County, New York--while her electors were safely Democratic, her governor is not, and I'm guessing it's quite possible plenty of her neighbors do not automatically agree with her. That's not the case for me--if anything, I'm probably slightly more hawkish and moderate than most of my neighbors. Which is a more helpful context in which to go knocking on doors?

Some Kerry campaigners came by my door last year, and we turned them away with a smile and an offer of a cold drink. We were already giving all the money we could afford to give. Essentially, I didn't want them to waste their time on me. I'd rather have sent them to Florida or Ohio. I know several people who dropped their lives for the campaign season and went to work in some Red or Purple state.

But yesterday my mother said to me something that amounted almost exactly to what Howard Dean says above. Carpetbagging campaigners don't make a lot of sense. People don't like be prosletyzed at by strangers. You need a stable community to organize and galvanize voters between the elections. For whatever reason, the sense of liberal community that pervades the Bay Area seems not to survive as you go inland. I don't even mean going to the next state, I mean going two or three counties over. This wasn't the case even a few election cycles ago. The conventional wisdom is that this is because the Republican party has almost fully coopted the built in network of churches, while traditionally liberal community structures like unions have withered. The conventional wisdom's cure (assuming you want a cure, like me) is to take back the churches and rebuild the unions. This is starting to taste like a rehash to me. Are there new, unconventional ways for coastal liberals to give support to middle country liberals while they (re)build their community strength in novel, interesting ways? Think out of the box. I want wild and crazy ideas, and I want them to involve physical neighborliness. The fact is, I like living on the coast. Politics aside, I just like being able to see the Bay, and have hills at my back. So how can I, and people like me, stay here and still have a real impact on national politics without just being an electionbird with a four-year or two-year November migration cycle?


I'm thinking all the new information pouring out of Google Local and Google Maps might be helpful. It's not really new information so much as a convenient way to look at old, local information. Might people be inspired to walk around and take a look around their neighborhood if they have ready access to an eagle's eye view of it? What else new is going on that might shift the equation? Muse muse muse. . . .answers always start as questions.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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Yglesias:Tpmcafe
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Brad DeLong
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