Election 2012: I’m in…

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I don’t consider myself a political junkie. I am liberal Democrat but I am not, nor have I ever been, heavily immersed in party decision making.

I do think that there is little more important than active involvement in the task of selecting good reasonable people to represent us all in all elective offices, and then supporting them. So, I try to engage in one way or another so as to be a reasonably well informed and aware citizen, and to try to have something responsible to say in political conversations…and not avoid those conversations.

My core belief: we are a complex country, and we are ill served by attempts to dominate or control by fringe ideologies. If that makes me sound anti-Tea Party and the like, so be it. These are polarized times, and we will rue the day we lose control to right wing ideologues (the ones who are by far the best funded, and money does talk).

This past week seems to have been the week I decided to dive in to the pool of Election 2012 activism.

There are endless ways to be constructively engaged, and here are some of mine, and what I learned.

There are a number of candidates I know I will support. Not all are listed below.

This week I met with my preferred candidate for state legislature, JoAnn Ward, a lady I have known for 14 years who is very well grounded in this community, but has not run for office before (every one who’s ever been elected to anything had to run for the first time, sometime, so that is never a liability, in my opinion.)

JoAnn didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know this week. Running for office, even for state House of Representatives, is an immense task. There is a great deal to learn. Many issues, many opinions on the issues. When one takes a step into running for office, one is made aware, instantly, that this is not an arm chair activity. There is a lot of very hard work.

Also this week I went to a fund raiser for another local candidate, Ann Marie Metzger. Ann Marie loves public engagement. But there are limits.

I asked a single question at the fundraiser: how many doors are there in our legislative district (candidates need to get out and doorknock.) The answer came back quickly “about 24,000″.

There is no way a single candidate can physically knock on every door in his or her legislative district, even if only a House of Representatives district. Other helpers are needed to do the task. And it is an unreasonable criteria to demand that the candidate actually stop at your doorstep to qualify for your vote. It would be nice, but impossible to achieve.

Of course, candidates at all levels need money. Unless you’re the Koch Brothers or other big money types, money for things like campaign literature, mailing expense, etc., does not grow on trees. it has to come from individual donations.

Ditto, the political parties do not have full-to-overflowing money trees. Money is needed. It needs to come from citizens.

If a candidate you like is going to have any chance of election, he or she needs your physical and economic help, and not $10 two weeks before the election.

We are electing people at all levels to make our society work. We are not wise to sit the election out, arms crossed, pretending we’ll be “independent” and then at the last minute decide who gets our vote. It’s risky business.

Then there’s the matter of exposure of the candidates to public view. Today I did my first parade, in the unit for Senator Amy Klobuchar in the neighboring town of Cottage Grove. This one was touch and go for rain out, but the weather cooperated and it was a good parade.

There were a dozen parades in Minnesota today, the coordinator of our unit said. The candidates obviously cannot be at every event, and that’s why there are an assortment of volunteers carrying signs, maybe looking uncomfortable. But there to say “I support this candidate”.

While walking the parade route, I do “people watch” the folks along the sidewalks. They’re at various places and stages, but hopefully they at least see us go by.

In a few weeks we’ll be at four months to the election.

Get in, and help out!

(photos, at Cottage Grove Parade June 16)

People watching from the parade. 3M won the prize for most effective handouts along this particular route. A good idea….

Some of my fellow paraders June 16, 2012

An Indian Runner Duck was part of our parade unit. Novelties like the duck, and, of course, kids, add a great deal….

…and don’t forget those partisan dogs, wearing a candidates tee-shirt!