We're steaming toward election season. In November, Americans across the country will go to the polls and either approve or reject the Republican Congress.
And like all election years, the months before voting will be filled with fund-raising, campaigning and media blitzes.
The election season has become even more visible recently, and I caught wind of it while I was walking on East Aloha Street, toward my morning coffee. There, I passed by two men in their 20s, adorned in identical blue shirts and equipped with clipboards. I noticed the logo on the back of their shirts and identified canvassers for the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
I was in their shoes two years ago.
In 2004, I spent three months working full-time canvassing for the DNC. While I was with them, we wore red shirts, not blue. I'm sure the red state/blue state map played a role in changing colors.
Canvassing is an extremely difficult job. These volunteers go door-to-door and stand near grocery-store entrances, asking people to give money to a complete stranger, who then keeps it in their pocket for the rest of the day. Many people are reluctant to order on-line, let alone hand money over to a person in a blue T-shirt and name tag.
From optimism to backlash
Canvassers also face daily abuse from a wide array of people.
While I had the job, I was not only yelled at by Republicans, but far-left radicals, homeless people and people who were just having a bad day. Many of the things said to me wouldn't be fit for print. The job certainly helps one build a thick skin against the people we all come across in life.
I can only imagine that this year's canvassers have it a lot more difficult than I did. In 2004, people were almost throwing money at us in hopes of ousting George Bush from the Oval Office (I would average $300 a day). I would often hear people express that they were confident. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) would win because they thought Bush had done such a terrible job as president.
I remember someone on the street asking my supervisor if he thought John Kerry would win. "I know we'll win," he replied, without batting an eye. We all had assumed that the rest of the country thought like Seattle.
But the rest of the country didn't, and all the massive, grass-roots fund-raising failed to pay off. Much of the money I collected came from average people who didn't necessarily pay attention to politics every day. Why would they put their hard-earned dollars to waste supporting a political party that can't win?
Seattle is an easy sale for these DNC volunteers, being one of the bluest of blue cities (we voted 90 percent for Kerry in 2004). However, unless the Democrats can prove that they have a strategy for winning that is stronger than their previous attempts, even Seattleites will be reluctant to donate money.
Madison Valley resident Michael Powell Deschamps is a college intern with the Madison Park Times. He interned with the newspaper before, during summer 2004 as a high-school student. He can be reached at email@example.com.