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Posts Tagged ‘Organizing for America’

Election Hotline: In New York, Dialing Ohio

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

[ cross-posted at Daily Kos ]

In our last installment of Fun with Volunteering, we told about taking a bus ride to Philadelphia. Last night and this morning, on the eve and the early hours of Election Day, we went to Obama for America–New York headquarters on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan to man the phones to get out the vote in the crucial swing state of Ohio. (Getting to OFA HQ via LIRR this morning, one week after Hurricane Sandy was its own act of, shall we say, determined commitment to the cause.)

•  Daily Kos reports that Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, i.e. Cleveland, is “poised to surpass 2008 turnout.”

•  Other states’ OFA Get-Out-the-Vote hotlines here

The spacious rooms were well attended by eager volunteers young, old, in between, and even canine. Many callers were volunteering for the first time, and we hope they’ll be back for other campaigns and for legislative initiatives between now and 2014. The Affordable Care Act, for example, likely would never have squeaked through the House and Senate if not for month after month of determined, repeated phone banking to urge voters to press their members of Congress to back health care reform. The same is true of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill.

Earlier in this election year there was talk of an “enthusiasm gap,” or a diminished sense of passion among Obama’s supporters, and that was probably true compared to the excitement of 2008, but as Election Day has come closer the gap has evaporated and the enthusiasm has grown. We volunteered for both campaigns, 2008 and 2012, going door to door and working phone banks, and the numbers may have diminished a bit from four years ago—what incumbent president’s wouldn’t?—but we can attest that in numbers of volunteers, their seriousness and dedication to democracy and making the United States a better country for all, and demographic variety, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have a very strong and energetic base of volunteers indeed. “Fired up, ready to go.”


Fun in Philly: Getting Out the Vote, Door to Door

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Volunteering Relieves Election Anxiety

[cross-posted at Daily Kos]


Everyone knows the best cure for blues or worries is work. In the same way, the best antidote for election anxiety is volunteering and going door to door, making phone calls from a roomful of other volunteers. Yes-We-Can hope loves company. Above all, get out and do something. Action is empowering: too busy to worry, you feel less anxious. Working with others, you feel a part of something bigger: a good cause, the good fight.

And so, on Saturday morning on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan we boarded an Obama bus for Philadelphia, one of several carrying hundreds of Obama-Biden campaign volunteers from New York City into Pennsylvania. Our bus, with only one or two empty seats, brought about 25 of us to the Obama for America field office in the Ogontz neighborhood of northwest Philadelphia (staffed by friendly Lynn, above, among others) and the other 25 went to Cheltenham Township.

On a sunny, beautiful clear afternoon, we set out in teams of two each, with clipboards and maps and lists of Obama supporters or previous voters, with about 75 or more doorbells to ring and people to talk to. We were supplied with packets of Commit to Vote cards and small brochures about Obama-Biden’s commitment to a strong middle class—“building an economy from the middle class out”—and the importance of voting, with the date Nov. 6 prominent on the front.

Be Sure to Vote, and Please Volunteer If You Can

The objectives in this African-American neighborhood—as in every community in every state—were (1) to ask if President Obama can count on your support on November 6 (in this neighborhood, the answer was Yes He Can), and (2) to encourage supporters to get involved and volunteer a few hours or more for the campaign. Most everyone said they would be voting. We also asked the residents to tell their friends and family to be sure to get out and vote. Many yards and windows held Obama-Biden signs and even more for state representative Dwight Evans and Barack Obama (see below). We made sure they knew where the polling place was—they all knew where to go—and emphasized that it was not necessary to show an I.D. to vote. (The state supreme court recently ruled against the Pennsylvania state legislature’s recent law requiring voter I.D., but the court unhelpfully decided that polling place workers could ask to see an I.D. Most of the people we spoke with had been following the news and were aware that they did not need to bring an I.D., though more than a few said they would bring a driver’s license or other I.D. with them anyway.)

Because of the nice weather—and because more than a few people have to work on Saturdays—many were not at home. By our count, we knocked on 93 doors and spoke with about 40 voters, all of whom said they supported the president “strongly” and promised they would vote. Though a few were wary about opening the door, most were pleased to be visited and to be asked for their vote.

20th Street, Ogontz neighborhood, northwest Philadelphia


We kept noticing as we talked to people in this neighborhood the pride they feel in “our president,” and kept contrasting that with the attitude toward this community, if any at all, from the Republican party. This is a solidly middle-class neighborhood of mostly homeowners, well-kept gardens and neat front yards. How well will this community fare if yet another Republican administration cutting taxes on the wealthy and forcing austerity on everyone else takes power in the White House and drives its agenda through Congress? Does Mitt Romney even know these good people exist? They are all too aware of him and what he would mean for them and their families.


On the way back to New York, one of the group leaders told us that the hundreds of volunteers on this one day alone reached tens of thousands of households, and that impact is magnified as the people contacted spread the word and urge friends and family to vote. He invited volunteers to step up to the wireless microphone and tell stories about their experiences. One said that she and her group stopped in for lunch at a neighborhood restaurant. They were the only white people in the place, but were welcome all the same. When the restaurant owner learned that they were Obama campaign volunteers, she refused to take their money. “You all are working for us; we just want to say thank you.” Another told of a college professor in her seventies who rolled down her car window and said, “Anything you can do to keep those [expletive deleted]’s out of the White House is just fine with me.”

We’ll be back on the beat in the coming weekends. The contact with voters is warming, affirming, makes you feel good.  You discover new parts of America and see with your own eyes what a difference an administration makes. Will there be investment and development in these communities, or neglect? Hope and pride, or something not so good?


Yes We’re Voting Tues. Nov. 2.
Not Voting = Not an Option.

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Dear readers: We promised recently we’d soon be getting off our donkey and rejoining the Organizing for America phone banks to help get out the vote for Tues. Nov. 2. Our cell phones are recharged and we’re back in action.

Here’s what you can do: Click the  Organizing for America web site (myBarackObama.com) and quickly find how you can make phone calls from home, or join a phone bank near you to call potential voters to urge them to come out on Tues. Nov. 2 (or vote early if their state allows) and vote Democratic. Folks, it’s kind of important. If you need information about voting, click RaiseYourVote.com. Forward this link.

“Enthusiasm gap”? Let’s not leave anything to chance.

Consider what can happen if you stay home: Christine “I’m not a witch” O’Donnell won her Delaware GOP primary by about 2,500 votes. Democrat Scott Murphy of New York’s 20th congressional district won the 2009 special election by 401 votes. And, on a slightly more consequential level, in 2000 George W. Bush won the state of Florida (or did he?) by 537 votes. Please don’t think your vote doesn’t count. (If you want to be scared into voting Democratic, read this Halloween-worthy column by Paul Krugman, “Divided We Fail.”)

Now, we completely understand reasons for not wanting to pull that Dem. lever. We have been among the complainers, the pajama-clad bloggers of the “professional Left” who have, according to Joe Biden, “whined” about the Democrats not accomplishing more (not pushing harder against the GOP wall of opposition). But the V.P. has a point when he says “don’t compare us to the Almighty; compare us to the alternative.” We really don’t want to go there, America. We really don’t want the Rand Paul Stomp, as shown in this commercial produced by the Kentucky Democratic Party:

Significant Accomplishments in 2 Years

Despite unyielding opposition and a blizzard of disinformation from the Republican Noise Machine, the Obama administration and the Democrat-led Congress have staved off a collapse of the American financial system; passed a strong stimulus bill that created or saved some 3+ million jobs; passed a health care reform bill that will expand coverage to 30+ million and save some $1 trillion over the next 10 years; signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act that tripled the size of AmeriCorps; pushed for a $50 billion National Infrastructure Bank; appointed an exemplary administrator of FEMA (this is important) and other exceptional cabinet secretaries, and much more.

Sick and tired of being sick and tired?

We have a civic duty to help limit the damage that can and will be inflicted by radical Tea Party Republicans who think women have no right to choose, unemployment insurance is unconstitutional, Social Security and Medicare should be abolished and/or privatized, and worse. There are 111 GOP incumbents who want to abolish the U.S. Department of Education. And the forecast is for many more Republicans in Congress? These are not the remedies our nation needs right now. Although some of the concerns originally driving early members may have been sincere, the Tea Party as it is now is not a grassroots movement: it is corporate-sponsored, establishment-driven. Ask Dick Armey and the billionaire Koch brothers.

Now is the time for all good citizens to save their country from its darker impulses.

And when this election is over, please remain active. (We made the same plea in 2008.) Keep phoning and writing and organizing to keep the pressure on the elected Democrats to do the progressive thing: Have the courage to wind down the wars, invest more in America, generate jobs here at home, increase spending on infrastructure and clean energy, increase spending on health care and education and housing, protect Social Security and Medicare, and reduce the Defense budget. Raise taxes on the wealthy and the superwealthy, back to the Clinton-era or even Reagan-era rates. (Many Dems are afraid to push for this; let ’em know it’s popular.) Whatever it is you want, keep up the pressure on your elected officials. You know the conservatives aren’t sitting back waiting for their agenda to be enacted. Liberals, progressives, Democrats need to learn a thing or two from them (methods, that is, not policy).

That link again is Organizing for America (an outgrowth of the Obama-Biden 2008 campaign, now affiliated with the Democratic party). Please join us, and urge all your friends, family, and neighbors to vote Democratic. Thank you.

Obama Sends Wall Streeters to “Reform School”

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

[ Ed. note: The following account of President Obama’s remarks on Wall Street reform yesterday are not, strictly speaking, part of Levees Not War’s usual portfolio (we do have many interests!), but then again it’s not every day that we get to personally attend a presidential address. A variant of this post appears at Daily Kos. ]

President Obama came within a few zip codes of Wall Street yesterday to speak to a gathering of prominent banking executives (including Lloyd “I’m Doing God’s Work” Blankfein of Goldman Sachs) and illustrious Empire State politicos at the fabled Great Hall of Manhattan’s Cooper Union. It was a privilege to sit in the Great Hall where over the last 150 years audiences have gathered to hear Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and other abolitionists; Susan B. Anthony and other advocates for woman suffrage; speakers for the NAACP and the American labor movement; and eight presidents including Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Bill Clinton; and another illustrious (former) congressman from Illinois: Senator Obama the presidential candidate spoke at Cooper Union on “Renewing the American Economy” in March 2008, a half year before the crash.


Back on the Blog

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Did you miss us? We apologize for a longer-than-usual absence, but there was a family medical emergency involving coronary intensive care that showed us all too dramatically (as though we didn’t already appreciate it) the life-or-death urgency of access to good health care. (Mom is recovering now, thank God.)

We’ve also been busy again with Organizing for America health care phone banks. On Thursday night some two or three dozen volunteers gathered in an apartment in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park to phone voters and urge them to call Congressman Scott Murphy in New York’s 20th congressional district to urge him to reverse his November “Nay” and vote for the health reform bill on Sunday. Our group made 1,446 phone calls, spoke to 417 people,  and got 232 to commit to calling Congressman Murphy. Rep. Murphy has now announced that he will vote for the health bill. (See our previous post “Scenes from a Health Reform Phone Bank.”) One woman we spoke to said she had already called the congressman once; was it okay to call again?


Scenes from a Health Reform Phone Bank

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

happyphone2The setting: The living room of a volunteer’s apartment in Manhattan.

The action: A night of phoning voters, mostly Obama supporters, in Florida, Indiana, and Virginia. Many wrong or disconnected numbers, or no one home (so we leave messages).

“Hello, my name is —. I’m a grassroots volunteer with Organizing for America and we’re helping President Obama pass health care reform this year. We’re not asking for money, but would just like to ask your opinion, please . . .”

The question we ask is, Do you support health care reform with a strong public option? We don’t assume people know exactly what the public option is, but help them along (“as you probably know . . .”) and briefly compare it to expanding Medicare for people under 65. It’s just an additional option at a lower cost than private plans. If you’re happy with what you’ve got, there’s no need to change . . .