Last Sunday afternoon I was sitting on my couch, watching football, and eating dinner. These are three of my favorite things to do. Then the doorbell rang. My son walked by the door and said, "It's a salesman." "Little one or big one?" I asked. The reason that I asked is that the little ones are cute and sell cookies and candy. The big ones are usually not as cute and try to sell me things I don't want or already have. "Big one," he replied.
My intention was to remain seated and ignore the person at the door. But then I looked out the window and remembered that the person standing outside my door was, in fact, a person. A person who was out knocking on doors on a Sunday afternoon, working their butt off for one reason or another. I have knocked on literally thousands of doors in my lifetime. It's hard work. And I respect people who work hard. So I decided to get off my couch and at least give the guy the respect of answering the door.
"Hi, my name's Jim Butler and I'm running for State Representative." "Oh great," I thought, "a politician." But I've been spending a lot of time thinking about politics and politicians recently, and now there was a real live one standing at my door. "Great, Let's talk," I said. My first question was "Which team are you on?" Since he's my state representative, I probably should have already known the answer to that question. And maybe the answer to that question really shouldn't have mattered. But it seemed important at the time, so that's the question I asked. "Republican," he said. "Okay," I responded. I didn't reveal my party affiliation. He may have already known it, or maybe it didn't really matter.
His brochure talked about health care and education. I work in health care and education. So we talked about health care and education. We talked about a local hospital closing and the problems facing our local Public School System. He was able to discuss both with some insight and articulate some reasonable approaches to addressing the situations. Then, he asked me what I thought should be done. Let me repeat that. He asked me for my ideas. Then we discussed them. After that, I thanked him for knocking on my door and he thanked for my time and asked me for my vote. I didn't make any promises.
Here's my point. Jim Butler did a little something to restore my faith in politics. Yes, politics has always been about power, money, and, far too often, sex. (Antony and Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, to name a few ancient examples) But it can also be about people talking to each other, listening to each other, and trying to solve problems. It can be one person knocking on another person's door on a hot, sweaty, Sunday afternoon and introducing themselves to a stranger.