Democracy, face-to-face

By Evan Manvel of Portland, Oregon. Evan is a long-time activist and consultant, and recently joined the Oregon League of Conservation Voters as their legislative affairs director.

Yesterday gave me faith.

I was out canvassing for Rep. Jackie Dingfelder, OLCV's 2007 Environmental Champion of the Year, in her race for the State Senate ( And while being around Jackie's unstoppable energy, basking in the relative warmth of the coming Oregon spring, and exploring beautiful neighborhoods didn't hurt, what really brought me joy were the conversations I had on people's doorsteps.

First, I was impressed that people knew the issues and were making complex policy arguments. We were asking people what their burning issues were, and while a few stated a simple "environment" or "health care," more people talked about the importance of a stable revenue stream and how a sales tax might help with that. Or how the Rainy Day fund should be run to assist in stability. Or how drug sentencing reform would save money on prisons. Or how a GI-bill style approach to higher education funding made sense. And so forth. And their policy savvy was matched with political savvy; they knew a sales tax isn't likely to be supported by Oregon voters, for example.

Second, I was glad that people really wanted to know more about the race. Instead of asking me how tall I was (well, one person did: answer, 6'5" – Jackie and I make quite the canvassing pair), or being afraid I was going to ask them for money, they asked me questions about the election: Who was stepping down? Who was running against Dingfelder? When was the election?

Third, I was amazed at how few people were hostile. I'm often skeptical of people at my door, and quick to turn them away. But beyond one person who told me he hated all politicians (in part because "they never listen" -- ironic, as there we were, reaching out to listen), and a couple people who begged off as busy, almost everyone willingly interupted their gardening, their meal, or their child care to engage me in conversation.

Finally, people thanked me for coming to their door and talking to them directly. Some said no one had been to their doors in years (though given the 2006 race for Rep. Ben Cannon's seat, it's more likely people weren't home for attempted visits by candidates). In short, people were thanking me for engaging them in face-to-face democracy.

Sure, one can tear down the hope by noting that I was going to Democratic doors in liberal parts of liberal Portland, that I was talking to frequent, engaged voters, and that I was high as kite fueled with plenty of coffee. But there's enough cynicism in my life. Yesterday was a nice counter-dose.

Luckily for you, BlueOregon readers, there are plenty more opportunities to get your own slice of joy. Dig in to the campaigns. Walk the neighborhoods. Talk to the people. And love democracy in action.

  • Josh Kardon (unverified)

    Good for you, Evan. I'm glad, but not surprised, to hear that my neighbors treated you well and care deeply about their state.

    It is a gross understatement to say that I can't wait to have Jackie as my State Senator. It will be phenomenal to be represented by a progressive Democrat. Be sure to plunk a lawn sign into the moss that is overtaking the grass in my yard!

    Didn't I see that Dr. John Kitzhaber is holding an event for her? When and where?

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    Thank you so much for your piece today. I have walked in many legislative districts in different parts of the state including, of course, my own 100 miles south of you. I have had very similar experiences over and over again.

    There are people who are knowledgeable and interested all over our state even in some very unlikely places. And those willing to share what they know and listen and learn, too. I nearly always come away energized and more convinced than ever that our time and effort are worth it for the future of Oregon and of our children.

    Most of my work is on a subset of the issues you mentioned, revenue stability and adequacy. I sometimes get discouraged because our work seems so slow at times and the needs so urgent. Then, I get out, walk, and I learn that our hope is not misplaced. With good people becoming more and more aware of the real issues, the time will come when we will unravel the institutional knots that prevent us from moving more freely to establish and support the communities we need to live in a very uncertain future.

    Thanks for the reminder and the advertisement. There are never enough volunteers.

    Thank you for your work for my friend, Jackie. She will make a great Senator. I will miss her in the House.

    Your ending, "Love democracy in action," could be our motto as we work.

  • Norah Spooner (unverified)

    As the new Field Director for John Kroger's Attorney General campaign I can tell you that Evan is exactly right, canvassing is both effective and fun. On the Kroger campaign our goal is to have the largest canvassing operation in the state. If you would like to help please call us or stop by the office!

  • Jason Skelton (unverified)


    Great piece. I live in the district and I have not seen Jackie, you or anybody! What gives ;-)

  • Jackie Dingfelder (unverified)

    Josh, and anyone else interested,

    Yes, Governor Kitzhaber is hosting an event "Greens for Jackie" for me next week. We are expecting a large turnout from the environmental/sustainability community. Evan, thank you for canvassing with me! Jason, I will be knocking on your door soon!

    Here are the details. Please join special guest Governor Kitzhaber, and other 'Greens' in support of Jackie Dingfelder for State Senate. Enjoy delicious wine from Lemelson Vineyards and mouthwatering appetizers from POUR and Provvista Foods.

    Where: POUR Wine Bar and Bistro 2755 NE Broadway St. Portland, OR 97232 When: March 19, 5-7pm

    Suggested minimum donation $75

    Hope to see you there,

    Co-hosts: Governor Kitzhaber, Jonathan Poisner, Sybil Ackerman, Stephan Kafoury, Jeremiah Bauman, Nicole Cordan, Lindsey Capps, Mary Scurlock, Randy Tucker, Katy Daily, Meryl Redisch, Kevin Gorman, Louise Tippens, Tom Wolf, Wendy Novick, Gayle Killam, Bob Stacey, Scott Pratt, Regna Merritt, Jeff Bissonnette

    P.S. Oregon taxpayers can receive a $50 tax credit, $100 per couple - for political contributions every year.

  • Terry Pparker (unverified)

    Since there is a price tag cost to providing new infrastructure, and since at least a large sum of those costs need to be passed on to the users; what Jackie has failed to do in her tenure as a Stare Representative for a diverse population is to establish/promote a statewide bicycle tax whereby those who use specialized bicycle infrastructure also directly pay for specialized and exclusive bicycle infrastructure. Bicycling has become a special interest game that includes the sport of freeloading pedal pushers organizing and continually lobbying to have the specialized infrastructure they want subsidized and paid for by somebody else, which includes the poaching of resources from motorist paid taxes targeted to maintain the roads. Jackie needs to step forward and end this tax discrimination by supporting bicyclists paying their own way with a direct bicycle tax paid only by the (adult) bicyclists.

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    I'm glad that I wasn't able to say anything on a blog (even something that had nothing to do with bikes) without Terry Parker wanting to tax kids who ride bikes.

    Whew! I thought the auto-comment function was broken.

  • Terry Parker (unverified)

    Apparently there is the same lack of literacy understanding from Evan (a leading bicyclist advocate) related the word “adult” in my previous post where I stated “a direct bicycle tax paid only by the (adult) bicyclists” as there is a lack of understanding by the majority of bicyclists when it comes to the meaning of the word “STOP” as it appears on red octagonal signs located at intersections for safety purposes. Is it the blind leading the blind when both words are ignored – or is it that Jackie only represents the special interests of bicyclists and those self-prescribed authoritarians who want to control and dictate the lifestyle and mobility choices of the people rather than representing the diverse population and views of the people, including myself, who live in her district - many of whom support the concept of an adult bicycle tax to pay for bicycle infrastructure? One answer may lie in the fact Jackie has never asked the bicycle tax question to her constituency seeking an objective response.

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    Frankly, I just don't read your posts anymore Terry. If you posted on the subject of the post (the joys of political canvassing in general) instead of making every post about the same thoroughly discredited idea maybe more people would listen. There are different threads for a reason. This one has nothing to do with your issue.

    If you doubt me, google "blogging etiquette 101".

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    How cute! Evan, I had no idea that you had your own personal troll following you around. Congrats!

  • Terry Parker (unverified)

    Oh Evan, you definitely demonstrate the intellectual aptitude of a true hard core bicyclist. First you make a dissimilar comment in a response to my post you later said you didn’t even read. What kind of lame misleading excuse is that? It totally lacks any kind of personal integrity.

    Second, you challenged the issue of a bicycle tax as not connected to your original commentary calling it a discredited ides. Yet in that commentary, you said “I was impressed that people knew the issues and were making complex policy arguments”. By stating that, you are not only being hypocritical, but YOU opened the door to the discussion of issues related to Jackie’s district. Consequently, establishing a bicycle tax is a genuine issue including in Jackie’s district that you, the BTA and other hard core bicyclists continually attempt to derail, keep it off the funding table and divisively protest against even having an objective conversation on the issue with motorists and non-bicyclists. If there is a disconnect here, it is that Jackie is only representing the special interests of the bicycling community, maybe even bought and paid for by that community, and not listening to the other diverse voices in her district including those who may not speak out until the questioned directly and objectively on the subject.

    Finally, you come in with what you call “blogging etiquette 101". Then following your post, Kari Chisholm, a paid political consultant who regularly posts a commentary on this site and should know better but probably has nothing better to say chimes with some name calling using one of his favorite words; “troll” for anybody he disagrees with. Is that what is called political consultant etiquette? Or how about blogging etiquette? Or just what part of any kind etiquette does it entail? What he demonstrates is that so-called progressives that want to control the lifestyles and mobility choices of the populace have taken over as the dictators of what was at one time the party of the people. Furthermore, the only trolling (not name calling but an activity) taking place here is one of bicyclists trolling for funding to subsidize their personal lifestyles by raiding motorist paid highway funds and taxpayer dollars from other sources.

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