Knocking doors can seem daunting at first, but it’s an extremely rewarding experience. It gives us a chance to broadcast socialist politics to a wider audience and allows us to hone our own organizing skills. Just show up!
By Brad L.
Socialist action isn’t easy in a consumer society where your participation in public life is largely limited to your employment and what you buy. This is why DSA emphasizes taking action where you are, offering resources and support as you make attempts to organize your coworkers or introduce socialism to friends and family. Of course, building collective power in your workplace or starting uncomfortable conversations with your peers can be difficult. It can be risky, stressful, and depending on your circumstances, it is work that you may be carrying out on your own. You may not feel ready to take such steps.
DSA’s electoral campaigns—while not a replacement for the kind of workplace and “relational” organizing described above—are a more accessible opportunity for taking political action that can advance socialism in the community beyond our homes and workplaces. Most importantly …
You can just show up.
As I’m sure you’re aware if you’re reading this, elections never stop. Prop A becomes Prop B becomes Prop A becomes new DSA-endorsed candidates running for local office. Attending a canvass is a great way to learn more about current candidates or ballot initiatives and how they fit into the socialist project. You will be trained before you head off to knock doors in pairs and will be debriefed once you return. There may or may not be coffee and cookies. There will definitely be good vibes.
This last point is important to emphasize. Unlike other forms of action that might mean going it alone at first, canvassing is a collective effort. You will meet fellow socialists, labor organizers, campaign managers, and (hopefully) make friends. You will have conversations that will deepen your understanding about DSA, Austin, political participation, Star Trek, co-ops, or any of a number of things. You will be better prepared for other forms of activism, and most likely, you will have fun in the process.
A quick example:
December was a chaotic month. A comrade recruited me for a canvass by phone, but I knew nothing about the campaigns other than the names of the candidates Austin DSA had endorsed when I showed up. What does a county commissioner do, exactly? Bob Libal was there to answer this question. How should we explain to voters why Justice of the Peace is an important office? Andrew Hairston’s campaign manager explained their approach.
While candidates and their representatives may not be at every canvass, there will be people there to train you. You will have a script to guide you, and if you are not familiar with the MiniVan app for tracking responses, you will be paired with someone who is. The Democratic primary voters you will meet tend to appreciate the volunteer work you are doing, and if you do run into a jerk, you will have a new friend to laugh off the encounter with. So …
Just show up. You will be fine and have a good time.
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