Politics 101 for canvassers: open your minds and ears
The phrase, “all politics is local” is a common phrase in US politics. The former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O'Neill is most closely associated with this phrase — Wikipedia.com
If one wishes to be involved in politics in Bermuda, they would do well to always remember and to practise the above law of Politics 101.
If one were to observe political debates online or on the radio stations, a picture could be gleaned that politics in Bermuda, as in the rest of the world, is going to hell in a handbasket. With the constant twists and turns of internal and external politics, it could very easily be mistaken for an episode of Jerry Springer or Maury.
However, when the time is taken to actually go out and speak with the people of Bermuda, the purity of politics — if there is ever such a purity — shines brightly.
For the past few months, we have been canvassing in areas throughout the island from Warwick to St David's; from North Shore to South Shore; from Middle Road that everyone drives on to tribe roads that are inhabited primarily by feral fowls.
Someone once said that being allowed into someone's home is a sacred act and must be treated with reverence. Keeping that thought in mind upon entering homes throughout the island, one must go in with an open mind and a closed mouth.
In doing so, it allows the homeowners to state how they truly feel about any given number of topics, ranging from the airport redevelopment to the latest round of county cricket matches. More often than not, the conversations take a truly Bermudian twist when speaking with seniors, as they will discuss family lines and who is related to whom.
By the end of the conversation, there is a strong probability of the canvasser finding out about an entire range of previously unknown relatives. On a good day, the homeowner may just share some homemade goodies to help to contribute to filling the canvasser up or cooling them down.
Within the next 16 months, thousands of doors will be knocked upon by persons wearing either green or red. Some knocks will be answered, some will not; that is the nature of canvassing. Some will get handshakes or warm hugs while others will get blank stares or even dogs of every size chasing them.
No matter which party one is representing, the fundamental thing to remember is that as a canvasser you are there to listen to the concerns of the people of Bermuda.
The cut and thrust of politics in Parliament, on the radio or in the blogs is alien to most who you are meeting at the doorstep.
For them, one thing remains fundamentally important to remember: the age-old rule that “all politics is local”.