James Lileks: What to do when candidates come calling

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 21, 2013 - 6:32 PM

Oh, great: 35 candidates in the mayoral race means 35 people knocking on the door during supper. And 27 will probably be the candidate. Hello, I’m John Singlissue, and I’m running for mayor!

I’m so sorry to hear that. Anyway, it’s dinnertime, and the pasta’s almost ready. This will only take a minute! Another minute and it will be mush. Not as mushy as Councilperson Suchensuch’s stance on an issue I care a lot about! Sorry. Give me some literature I can promptly discard so you’ll feel as if you accomplished something.

I suppose I could play a recording of a dog growling and strew the stoop with chewed-up clipboards, but who wants to be a grump? So, ding dong! and you trudge to the door. Note the name on the doorknocker’s shirt.

“Hello,” you say. “I’m not voting for your candidate, and don’t want to waste your time. Better luck up the block!”

Which apparently translates to: “Blorgen gristy macphersen gog fooble-twad, kricken de plujet?” because she launches into a campaign spiel.

She asks who you intend to vote for, and you say “the stringy-haired guy who walked out of the lake in shorts and started swearing at me,” because you really, really want to hear the canvasser say “my candidate believes in walking out of the lake and yelling, too.” They always have to point out how their candidate is really like yours, but better! He’ll fight for water quality while he’s in the lake!

As you close the door, she launches one last question: What’s your main issue in this election?

If you say “Moon men watching me through invisible telescopes,” you’ll get a position paper on strengthening privacy laws. If you say “Confiscation of newborns by the state to mold a new type of citizen uncontaminated by familial bonds,” you’ll get something on education reform.

Try this: “My main issue is defeating your candidate.” The canvasser will smile, freeze and smoke will curl up from her collar as she processes the reply.

Close the door gently. If she’s still there the next morning when you get the paper, call the campaign. It’s the decent thing to do.

 

lileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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