Why I canvass ?

Local Canvassing Helps our Candidates

Written By Brita van Rossum

To say that I am not a natural canvasser is an understatement.  I would always rather spend my free time in my garden rearranging my plants or reading a book.   My nephews like to joke that my husband is Uncle Fred and I am AntiSocial !

When Trump was elected, I felt very dispirited and alienated.  Three of my elected representatives – Pat Toomey, Duane Milne, Ryan Costello – were Republicans who refused to criticize Trump no matter how many calls I made to them.    I desperately wanted to fight back but didn’t know how.

Then in 2017 an EWC Dems volunteer named Martin McElroy knocked on my door with news of the 4 women running for the Chester County row offices.   That short conversation made a world of difference to me.   It gave me a feeling of hope – that there was a plan – that people were out there organizing to defeat the awful policies coming out of the Trump white house.  I didn’t need to wait 4 years for the next presidential election.  I could start getting Democrats elected right away and start taking back my country now!

When 2018 rolled around I signed up to canvass for Chrissie Houlahan.   At the start of my first canvassing shift I felt pretty nervous.  But I reminded myself of how much that conversation with Martin had meant to me.  So I screwed up my courage and started knocking on doors – and it was great!  Far from being annoyed that I knocked on their door, most people were friendly and so many actually thanked me for canvassing.

I am never going to be a great canvasser – I mostly just aim to look friendly, remind people that an election is coming up, hand out candidate literature, and ask people to vote.  But that little bit of interaction seems to be surprisingly effective.  Many Chester County democrats still assume that they are a small minority surrounded by hard-core Trump supporters.  Letting them know we are actually in the majority really energizes them. 

So while I’d always rather garden than knock on doors, I don’t dread canvassing.   Instead, I enjoy knowing that I’m doing an important public service.

– Brita van Rossum