Things I’ve learned from a Municipal Election

Blog No. 102

This week is my municipality’s elections and it’s a big one. The mayor isn’t running again and neither is half of the council. It’s been a free-for-all with everyone and their brother running for office and opinions seem to be hotter than ever. I have the distinct joy of not only being a city employee, but also working at a facility where the local polling station is set up. I get to see democracy in all its stinky, rude, obnoxious, biased, loud, vicious glory, from a front row seat.

So this week is going to be a list post (something I don’t normally do, but Adventure Worlds writer Justin Cantelo has mastered). I’m going to give it a shot and hope it works out as well for me as it does for him.

  1. Don’t hesitate to bother people.

In the last few weeks I’ve been bothered, hassled, heckled, harassed, and insulted a lot more than I usually am. A work, on the street, and at cafes while writing, I’ve had strangers and colleagues stop me and bombard me with questions and propaganda, all ending in dismissal (and in one case offense) when they find out I don’t actually live within the city limits. Luckily most cases (except obviously at work) they didn’t know I worked for the city. That would have been a whole other issue I didn’t need to be pestered and insulted about.

I did learn that I should be more aggressive with approaching strangers and friends with my website and writing. As long as I’m not rude, the worst I’ll likely get is a dismissive rejection (and I’ve been able to handle that so far).

2.  You (as in I) are and idiot.

Every assumption a stranger is going to make about you is going to have something to do with you being wrong, uninformed, or stupid. The fun part is that even though they’re the uninformed one, they will be too busy talking to listen to your explanation. No matter how well your actions and words can be supported by logic, fact, good reasoning, or common sense, if that other person doesn’t instantly see the reasoning behind what you do, you will never be able to change their mind.

Maybe in the odd case you can win out with a passionate and well thought out speech, but you are better off appealing to guilt and embarrassment. Even if they are receptive and you can clearly explain your reasoning, that initial impression will taint the way they see you from now on. Don’t try to change it, they aren’t worth it.

3.  People you don’t know can be your best supporters.

On the other hand, if people believe in you and what you do/make/say, they will gladly and fervently support you. They will do a better job promoting you that you ever could. Maybe it’s because self promotion never seems genuine, maybe you are just awkward and off-putting (I don’t know). What I do know is that a stranger spreading the word is the best advertisement you can get.

Think about sports teams, bands, movies. Their fans buy and wear branded clothing, start their own websites, write fan fiction, and are eager to share their excitement with their friends and other strangers. (Imagine what would happen if we could do that with literature).

While there are a few more little tidbits of information I’ve gleaned from this election, my blog is getting long and they aren’t as substantial as these three. I’m glad the hoopla is over (along with the judgmental questions and accusations) but at least this time around I’m getting something out of it other than another cynical notch on my belt and another term of bickering and complaining from strangers who know better than I do. Good thing for me, people who disagree with you can inadvertently be your supporters too.

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