Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Whenever political canvassers comes to my door, I try to be reasonably nice. I offer them something to drink or, more urgently, the chance to use a bathroom. I figure they're usually volunteers and it's pretty thankless to knock on doors of people who, for the most part, would rather not be bothered.
The other day, a young guy came to the door and announced he was with "For Maryland for Our Future." I made him grimace right away by saying, "I'm for the past."
But he proceeded, undaunted. He wanted to know whether I would vote in favor of the upcoming referendum to allow slot machines at racetracks as a revenue-raiser. I could tell he was working for the monied interests pushing this thing, because he had on a very professional-looking rain poncho over his For Maryland for Our Future polo shirt.
Grassroots canvassers only get tee-shirts, maybe (see picture). Nothing with a collar.
I told him I hadn't studied the issue and so couldn't say which way I would vote. (Even though I believe that state-sponsored gambling, no matter its faults, is a pretty inevitable policy move wherever it comes up.)
He didn't write down my response, or try to persuade me to vote in favor. He then asked me which would be my biggest priority for the money slots would raise, education, health care or taxes. I then told him I didn't think it would ultimately help education, even though schools are slated to get half the money generated.
We've seen it time and again -- education is promised lots of money, but gambling revenues just replace general fund revenues that end up going elsewhere. I also didn't think it would keep a lid on taxes particularly effectively. I didn't know anything about a health care connection.
At any rate, the guy clearly just wanted an answer that he wouldn't write down. Which shows the difficulty with hiring canvassers, as opposed to having committed volunteers who care about the cause or candidate.
It's good to know more than the people you're talking to, or at least have some ready response if they raise concerns. Even if they are wise asses.
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