My strategy, such as it is, is to let people know people know that I am standing. I’m hoping to at least have some piece of literature delivered to every house in the electoral area.
I want to deliver as many of these leaflets myself so I can carry out some soft canvassing, trying to engage with whomever I come across.
To date I’ve been to six thousand houses, but this is little more than a third of number of houses in the area.
The second phase is to directly knock on the doors. This is what is most important, especially for the local elections. Having met and having a knowledge of a person are the most likely reasons for voters choosing to vote for a candidate.
I’m acutely aware of the demographic changes that have occurred since I have last been a publicly elected representative for the area. Many who had voted for me are no longer of this World.
Few of the first time voters have any recollection of my ever being an elected representative before. My experience, such as it is, counts for little if I can’t combine that with an ability to convince every prospective voter of what I can do, at least for the next five years.
Weekdays I tend to go out on my own. At weekends I get joined by a number of friends. It’s a good way of discovering who your friends are. As well as the personal support, the mutual aerobic exercise achieved by walking about 6km each time can only be good.
It’s a numbers game. About half the electorate will sit out the local elections. I wish more would participate. We desperately need more people to do so.
For some not participating is their verdict on the potency of local government itself. In that they are not wrong, although I believe systems can only be changed from within.
For most it is a cynicism against politics, a cynicism that for many may have become far too ingrained to change.
The process of canvassing is for the most part a largely pleasurable one. People tend to be kind, polite even tolerant. Tirades are rarely encountered. Some sense of discontent can be read into world weary sighs and often withering stares. Even when met with the negative I have always preferred the passion of anger as against the numbness of indifference.
The means of canvassing of political canvassing may be being slightly changed by social media, but I don’t believe that the intensely personal nature of campaigning in Ireland will ever change. Nor should it.
No opinion poll, no focus group, can ever be as effective as an individual voter telling you something on the doorstep.
Criticism, when it occurs, can often to be cutting but is always incisive. One encounter I especially remember is when a constituent said to me :
“The only time we see you these days is when you are the television.”
There really was no comeback to that.
The former speaker of the US House of Representatives. Tip O’Neill, is credited with the aphorism ‘All politics are local’. This has often been represented as politics being about policies.
Politics are about people. That’s what we so often get wrong.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. He is running in the local elections min Cork in May for the Greren Party. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle