HomeNewsOp-ed: Campaigning turned potential voters into friends

Op-ed: Campaigning turned potential voters into friends

Mike Doyle, the Democratic candidate in the 170th Legislative District, gives his opinion about running a campaign.

By Mike Doyle

The persuasion knock…The adventures of a first-time political candidate

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As we draw closer to Election Day, I wanted to share with the readers what my experience has been speaking to the voters in the 170th district as a first-time candidate for political office. I talked to a lot of people at the doors about my struggles and issues with alcoholism and substance-use disorder, how I was able to overcome that, and why I am running now to represent them in Harrisburg.

Shortly after the May primary, our campaign was given what is called a persuasion universe. Being a Democratic candidate, my persuasion universe was made up of people mainly registered as independent, Green Party or Republican who could be persuaded to vote for any candidate.

One would think that all a Democratic candidate would need to do to win is simply convince enough registered Democrats to vote for you. The persuasion universe is one in which you approach people outside of your party.

When I started knocking doors in June and shared my story with the persuasion universe voters, I began to see the people I was talking to also cared about ending stigma surrounding substance-use disorder and mental health disease. They agreed that helping people who were suffering from alcoholism and addiction and providing real, long-term solutions for them to be healthy and productive would make the community and the district in general a healthier and more productive district…a better community.

Was I really talking to people who were not affiliated the same way as me politically?

And when we discussed issues like fairly funding our schools and ending the 10-year tax abatement, which disproportionately benefits mostly the wealthiest Philadelphians, the largely working-class families and seniors on fixed incomes I spoke to agreed. When I shared my approach to taxes, and that seniors and those on fixed incomes should not have their property taxes raised by introducing legislation that would put a cap on increases for people in certain income brackets, the voters always agreed with this idea.

When I shared with them that the wealthiest Pennsylvanians were the ones who really benefited from the tax breaks recently passed, and not us, the working-class wage earner, they all seemed to agree this was bad policy.

When September rolled around and we were finishing up our persuasion “knock,” as they call it, I was sad that we were going to leave this persuasion universe. I really felt a connection and comradery with all the people I spoke to — Republican, independent, Green, other. For me, that was real democracy and real political action. Talking to people whom you never thought you would agree with, and realizing that there was much more we had in common than not.

This entire experience was a true reminder that we’re all just people. When we drop the labels and talk face to face, we can really see and hear each other and more often than not, find commonality.

I don’t know about you, but with the division we’ve been dealing with in this country, I’d like to live in the persuasion universe.

There is no one issue that defines us or separates us when we approach each other as human beings. It seems like most average voters are just people who want to have conversations with someone and hear what that person’s experience is and how that experience will help them or better their community.

Whether it is addiction issues, school funding, taxes and jobs, we all agree on one thing. We can do better and we deserve better. The slogan, Uniting the Northeast, was the slogan I came up with when I decided to run. Little did I know then how true of a representation it would be of the days that lie ahead and the conversations that would happen. The greatest gift out of this entire experience has been the hospitality and kindness of all the strangers I met, and the fact that these strangers are no longer strangers, but people I was truly happy and grateful to get to know. People I now consider friends and no longer a “voter” in some unknown universe. ••

Mike Doyle is the Democratic candidate in the 170th Legislative District.

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