Saturday July 15 was hot and breezy as a dozen Do The Most Good volunteers gathered with Courtney Watson at Burleigh Manor Middle School off Centennial Lane and set off to canvass a bunch of Ellicott City neighborhoods for the Howard County Democratic party.
The mission was to try to find out why people did or didn’t vote in 2014, a state and county election year, as opposed to 2016, a presidential year, and what they might do next year. What issues motivated them? What did they like, and what did they hate?
My wife Liz and I had a list of addresses near Waverly Elementary school off Rt. 99. That’s where I began enjoying the experience. Yes, the small of my back was wet from sweat, most people weren’t home or didn’t answer the door, and several who did refused to be interviewed, but all that is to be expected.
We walked a long way in a neighborhood we had no experience with. It was a street of very large, well-kept homes with shiny, newish vehicles in the driveways, a world away from the apartment houses, townhouses and more densely packed areas I’ve canvassed before.
We didn’t get a whole lot of insight. The folks we spoke to often hadn’t given much if any thought to specific issues or what is happening even in Howard County right now. Several who said they had voted in both previous elections said they did it out of a sense of obligation. Their duty as citizens. They didn’t know anything about school redistricting, the controversy over a local mulch business, who was running for county executive, or anything else.
But we did find a man who said he’d been thinking about becoming a volunteer for the Democrats for some time. He said he’s now willing to act. Another gave us his e-mail address because he wants to learn more about local issues and perhaps get involved. A third said he’s also been thinking about volunteering, but he wasn’t ready to commit himself.
Walking down that shade splotched, manicured, prosperous street and it’s side cul-de-sacs, I could imagine living here and feeling pretty self-satisfied and unconcerned beyond that nice suburban bubble.
But that’s the good part too. We got the chance to knock on those doors, ask a few questions, tell people that hey, we’re just like you, but we’re out here getting involved, one house at a time. No one was hostile. Most were friendly, and we actually reached a few people who may DO SOMETHING!
Next time there’s a call for volunteer action, you could do it too!