Election Day and The Volunteer Army
Yesterday our seventh door-to-door canvasser arrived, bringing the tally to Obama: 7, Romney: 0. This one even brought dog treats since so many houses employ fluff-based internal alarm systems. The Obama canvassers have run the gamut from older ladies with silver hair to college students; even one of our state representatives stopped by on the President’s behalf. All we’ve seen from Romney’s camp are yard signs and attack ads. I live in a swing state, shouldn’t I be shaking an equal number of red and blue hands at my front door?
It turns out that, at least in New Hampshire, the President employs a massive volunteer force that’s been fanning out through every major city. The Republican nominee almost exclusively uses paid canvassers, so there are far fewer warm bodies moving door-to-door. I didn’t even realize there was such a thing as a paid canvasser, honestly, any time I’ve gotten involved in a campaign it was as a volunteer. I attended rallies, fundraisers, Meetups, and protests because I believed in the message, not because I was being paid.
In the end, my decision really isn’t being swayed here- I was never an undecided voter, at least on a presidential level. I actually pay attention to what politicians and candidates say, not the pundits who are paid to fill time between the things politicians and candidates say. But the difference in door-to-door greeters seems representative of two very different approaches to getting your message out there.
When the goal is spreading the word, volunteers are always better than paid agents. One candidate clearly gives people enough to believe in that they’ll donate their time and risk repeated confrontation with rude homeowners. The other has to offer a kickback to put boots on the ground. Speaking strictly as the customer whom both parties are attempting to woo, the motivation often speaks louder than the message.
Case in point: You’ve never heard my music before. Are you more likely to take a listen if someone genuinely seems to love the tunes or if they seem to just be throwing Amazon affiliate links at you? Sure, it’s possible to make a buck and be a fan, but if you’re not clearly in the latter camp it’ll be a lot harder to open up some fresh ears.
This is not to denigrate the affiliate marketers (or even Republicans) out there; I’m not claiming they’re all just cynical greedy bastards. The only conclusion I can draw, though, is that one message seems to inspire the locals to give of themselves and one doesn’t. I don’t want my fans to share my music because they might make a buck, I want them to share the ways they’ve been changed by my art. I want them to create their own art, tell their own stories, and move others.
The message from a volunteer carries a lot more weight in my neighborhood than a paid advertiser any day.