Last night my family and I were out and about getting Conservative Party candidate designating petitions signed in the Town of Walworth. We do it as a family affair with hopes that we are teaching our children about civic duty and American democracy. It is the second year we have done the work and we are learning some lessons ourselves.
First, it is a pleasure to get to know our neighbors in rural Walworth. When we knock on the door they are friendly, welcoming, offer refreshments and talk with us about the “political scene.”
Second, when we go to the edge of Walworth that sits closest to Rochester we are knocking on extremely different doors. The doors of suburban “McMansions” and their doors are jealously guarded. Mind you, we are only seeking signatures from folks who are registered members of the Conservative Party. Asking them only to do their duty as members of the party by signing the petitions that will give candidates access to our ballot line in November, but we are almost exclusively met by cracked doors asking “what do you want.” This is followed by a door slamming in our face or a mysterious hand that slips out the door takes the petitions, screws them up (ok that only happened once) and offers them back. Meanwhile we stand on the doorstep like potential murderers.
We lived for a time in the city of Rochester and found our neighbors friendly and accessible. We feel we have really become part of the community here in rural Walworth (as much a part as transports can hope to become). But the suburbs are another matter. Last year we swore we would not try to get signatures from suburbanites again. This year I am serious about it.
Is this the upside of high gas prices? Sadly, high gas will hit my rural neighbors the hardest but… just maybe… it will help to draw the suburbanite out of his atomized prison, allow him to meet his neighbors, and restore a sense of community to an ailing American dream.