Democrats had our second straight inspiring Tuesday night this week. Dems in every state and 20 countries abroad met - a full year before the 2006 elections - to plan how to take back city councils, school boards, state legislatures, governorships, and Congress. The key to success, Democratic chair Howard Dean told us, is knocking on doors - lots of 'em.
Door-knocking, also called canvassing, is an integral part of grassroots politics because it helps the party identify Democrats so our candidates be sure they get out to vote on Election Day. The DNC has found that if just 10 more people in every precinct in any of three states had voted Democratic last year, George W. Bush would've lost. Door-knocking offers the side benefit of helping neighbors meet each other - not always the easiest thing to do in our hurry-up world.
After a year-and-a-half of living in our home in Boise, I'd met the people in the homes contiguous to ours except the woman who lives kitty-corner across the street. The opportunity simply hadn't come up; a barking dog in her fenced-in yard may have had something to do with it. But when I saw her raking her leaves the other day, I chanced walking over and finally introducing myself, both as a neighbor and - by the way - as the Democratic precinct captain.
It turns out Marilyn is a Republican, but we had a good talk - mostly about the incredible rise in Idaho property values and, with that, the sharp spike in property taxes. At other doors in my neighborhood, I've met people who are either Democrats delighted to find they're not alone or Republicans fed up with the Bush administration's shenanigans. I've welcomed newcomers and newlyweds, and found a possible babysitting job for my daughter. It's about politics, yes, but it's also just about forging the basic human connections that too often go unmade in our hectic lives.
Go check out the DNC website for photos and stories of Tuesday's organizational kickoff. And if you're inspired to join this effort, call your local Democratic office. They'll help you get started.