09 April 2010

On being canvassed

In my more politically active days, door-to-door canvassing scored bottom out of the range of preferred activities. (Even that scored higher than door-to-door evangelism in my more religiously active days.)

I read something in the past few days about how it has all changed in the internet era. I can't find it to link to it, but you can reconstruct the argument for yourselves in half a minute.

I know how I am going to vote. My partner has a "plague on all your houses" approach, and won't vote (I don't agree of course but that is not the business of this blog). So people will be wasting their time calling round; I've decided to save them and us a lot of trouble with the following notice on our front door:
To all candidates and canvassers:
Please do NOT call or deliver leaflets.
To do so guarantees that we will not vote for your party.
Thank you
(No copyright claimed--feel free to copy and distribute, and of course improve... On reflection. "So to do" is more elegant than "To do so", ..)

This is win-win. You don't get bothered, and canvassers will be relieved to know that there is no point in expending time and effort where it will clearly be counter-productive.

And of course there are variants. I don't write it down, but I do set out the ground rules for when the Jehovah's Witnesses come round, which they do regularly round here;
Thank you for calling! My great-aunt was a Witness and played the organ at the local Kingdom Hall (true) I have the greatest respect for your commitment, and particularly the suffering of Witnesses under the Nazis but...

you are not going to convert me, and I don't even want to convert you.

..but I really enjoy theological arguments, and although my Biblical scholarship is a little rusty, it will all come back to me. So if you have a couple of hours to spare, let's make a date...
The last time anyone took me up on that was 40+ years ago.

This is not about cheap points at the expense of political or religious canvassers, but about understanding the pressures on them. The last thing they want is an enthusiastic time-waster. Pity! It's great fun. I can recommend it.

PS. If a canvasser of whatever ilk asks you a question, please don't answer it directly, as posed. That marks you as a mug/prole/voter. Apart from the crude "litany" recitation favoured by politicians themselves, there are several more elegant response strategies, of which two are:
  • I don't understand the question, or even if you are of a positivist bent, the question is meaningless (be warned--you may have to justify that proposition).
  • Please define your terms.
See here!

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