Sunday, November 25, 2012

"We Don't Want Them to Know About Your Blog!"

It wasn't Rabbi Yossi who said this.

It wasn't even Henry Waxman the Taxman.

It was Heather Peters, the political director who shouted this at me.

For a brief stint, I was a door-knocker for the Bloomfield campaign.

I had my speech, or rather speeches, all prepared.

I met a number of high-class residents in Manhattan Beach and South Torrance.

The steps were just murder. Rich people live in big houses on big lots of land. How they go from house to garage every day just escapes me.

I told them that Waxman voted against tax cuts for working class and middle income Americans. I told them about his rude behavior with colleagues.

I spoke with twenty-two residents in one day, and many of them were all power forward for Bloomfield.

I got a stunningly different reception back at the office.

First, they were elated about all the people whom I had convinced.

Then they wanted to know what I had been telling them.

I told them about the tax increases, I told them about his rude behavior. Since I had their party affiliation listed next to their address, I would appeal to them as Republicans or Democrats.

Heather let loose.

"You're telling them what? You need to read from our script!"

"What's the big deal? Everything that I tell them is public record. It's even on  my blog. . ."

Heather then cut me off.

"We don't want them to know about your blog!"

"What difference does it make? I'm just "Joe Blow".

"No you're not 'Joe Blow!' You work for us. And if you don't do what you're told, then you won't be working for us for long!"

I really pushed it at that point.

"Why are you not telling people everything that Waxman has been doing? People need to know about this stuff!"

I admit it: I was pushing way too hard. I still had some things to learn about taking direction.

Heather did her best to compose herself, then explained:

"Look, Arthur, I love ya, but with all due respect, we don't have to tell you."

She then acknowledged that the team had not informed her, or any of the door-knockers, about the need for a script.

Then she explained to me that the consults were relying on different means for connecting with voters: through press, Internet, advertisements, door-knockers, calls, emails. This theory of multiple media for reaching voters smacks all too much of the "Galbraith fallacy." In Kenneth Galbraith's book The Affluent Society, the Canadian born economist argued that media advertising would influence peoples' habits and interests, enough that they would purchase something or do something, whether they wanted to or not.

Galbraith's thesis has been discredited, yet the political consultants for the Bloomfield campaign insisted on banking his election chances on this concept.

I learned a lot about campaigning, I learned a great deal about the capacities of individuals to withstand pressure and strain in their lives,  I also realized that reaching voters requires more than frequently informing them about yourself.

Still, Bloomfield did remarkably well against Waxman, and the Congressman is more scared than anything else.

Heather was a class act. A supervisor who recognized my spirit, but had to address the letter of things. I hope that I get to work with more people like her.

Still, the lack of punch and fire in the campaign alarmed me enough to get fired up and sound the alarm on the weak-tea proposals to get out there and make something of all that was going wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment