Election campaigns are unique. It’s the only time when politicians actually come to your doorstep looking for your vote! But, when a campaign canvass knocks your door, what should you do?
It is worth remembering that the person who actually knocks your door is unlikely to be the candidate. An election canvass is made up of a disparate group of people. Many will be non-political, friends of the candidate and on some occasions it might even be the candidate’s mother or father who stands at your door! Other canvassers will be party members, who have a regular job but are politically interested and just want to be part of the team.
On some occasions, the actual candidate will be the person standing on your doorstep, holding a leaflet and asking for your vote. So, what should you say?
This 5 point guide will help you make those conversations go better:
- Remember Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.” Even if you disagree profoundly with the party that has knocked your door, even if the policies they hold cause you difficulty, be polite. Having an angry argument on the doorstep will not help you and it will not change the views of the person you are speaking to. Disagreeing politely will be more productive.
- Establish who it is you are speaking to. If the person who has knocked your door is not an elected representative or the candidate, then ask to speak to a candidate or an elected representative from that party. Speaking to a party supporter, may allow you to get the issue off your chest, but it’s unlikely to do any good. Always remember, people who can actually make a change on the issue you care about will be in your street, so ask to speak to them.
- Once you are speaking to a candidate or other party representative, keep the interaction short. Election canvasses are meticulously planned. Parties plan to cover a certain number of streets each night, if you keep the person on the door for too long, they will start to lose interest in your issue as they will want to get back to knocking doors. So, keep it succinct, to the point and civil!
- Rather than speak at the candidate, your interaction will go better if you start by asking them questions. Concentrate on the issue you care about most and ask them what their party policy is on that issue. Find out what way they will vote on this issue, if elected. Ask them how they will make a difference in your areas of concern.
- Once they have set out what their views are, explain your view and tell them why you disagree or agree with them. Once you have done that, end the interaction and let them go!
Short, constructive and polite interactions have much more impact on a candidate than an angry exchange. All campaigns simply ignore an angry exchange. Most people do not know this, but all modern campaigns mark a copy of the electoral register based on how people interact with them! If there has been an angry exchange on a doorstep, that party is unlikely to canvass you again. The electoral register will mark that house as a non-supporter and will never go back! If the interaction has been polite and constructive, they will probably mark your house down as one that can be persuaded, which guarantees they will come back to talk to you at the next election! Which means you will be given a guaranteed opportunity to put your views across again.
Always remember, when a politician comes to your door, they are a representative of their party, but you are representative of the Kingdom of God. Make sure your encounters with the powers of this world, reflect well on the King you serve. //Tim Cairns CARE Senior Policy Officer