Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rollover Minutes for Obama

The first thing that happens when you walk into the Akron Ohio Obama Campaign for Change office, after the warm welcome, is a sit-down where the volunteer coordinator tells you her story.  The personal story seems to be the meta-narrative of the Obama get out the vote training camps.  Everyone has a story of suffering, struggle, commitment and change.  A volunteer might arrive not realizing he or she has that story, but after listening to the extremely committed, calm and cheerful interns, fellows, coordinators, neighborhood captains and senior staff, soon after that first Obama Boot Camp they realized they had a story, one that said, "I am like Obama.  His life is like my life.  His campaign can speak to my suffering."

So the meta-narrative than training in how to make phone calls to undecided voters.  I am so happy I have 3000 roll over minutes for the cause.  Daytime calls are to the alleged unemployed retirees and elderly but hardly anyone is at home.  People hang up on you, occasionally engage in conversation but mostly the volunteer leaves a voicemail message created by the campaign.  

I am willing to use this highly scripted few sentences and do just about anything the young people running this office ask of me.  If the personal story is the meta-narrative, then smart, technology rich organization is the central strategy.  This campaign is organized in ways that John Kerry never imagined possible.  Our calls were to carefully selected voters.  Our canvassing as well.  No wholesale blizzard of literature dropped on every door step multiple times every single day of the last week of the campaign. No frantic efforts to figure out who is going to staff what get-out-the-vote efforts because Labor is angry with the Democratic Party and the Party has irritated everyone who crossed their path.  So these young folks are carrying out an inspiring and effective effort.

The best door-knock of the night was at a house where the Middle Eastern immigrant naturalized citizen father stated, "Oh I am voting, we are all voting, me, my sons, my wife." When asked if he would like to volunteer, he stated, "I am bringing the whole community to the polls with me.  We are voting for Obama."

Now that's worth three hours in Ohio autumn dampness and cold.  

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