I open the door to check if there’s a package outside. 30 seconds later, someone is outside, from the sidewalk, loudly calling my first and last name. I open the door, expecting to see someone I know who happened to see me when I opened the door, but instead see two teenage boys carrying clipboards.
“Hey, can you sign these?”
“What are they for?”
“This one is for redistricting and this one is for letting people work part time.”
“I don’t want to sign the first one (more on this later). I don’t understand what the second one is. People are already allowed to work part time.”
“No, they’re. That’s the funny thing.”
“What do you mean?”
“Not everyone can work part time. If you sign this, everyone will be able to work part time.”
“It would really help us out if you just signed these.”
“But don’t most people want to work more, not less?” “I’m not going to sign something I don’t understand or agree with.”
“No, a lot of people only want to work part time, but they’re being forced to work full time.”
“Can you just sign it?”
I skim the paper and realize it has something to do with providing benefits to people who work part time. I try to explain this to the two boys even though it’s clear at this point they’re getting paid by signature and couldn’t care less about the cause they are trying to get on the ballot for the next election.
I had a similar experience at the farmer’s market last weekend when someone tried to get me to sign five different petitions, including the redistricting one. When I asked him about the fact that we voted on redistricting last election, he tried to convince me that this was different. I didn’t feel comfortable with his explanation and later did some research. Essentially, people who didn’t like the outcome of the redistricting initiative are trying to put it back on the ballot to come up with a different outcome. At what point do you concede that this is democracy and you don’t always get your way? Or do you just keep fighting until you get your way? I’ll admit that I may be missing something, but the fact that I can’t easily understand why we need to vote on this again says something, though I’m not entirely sure what.
This can’t really be what democracy looks like, right? Or am I being a snob and this is what democracy looks like in a democratic, capitalist country? Maybe I am too idealistic? Or too cynical? Regardless, it leaves me feeling disenfranchised … again (see this post).