Dear Obama Campaign

This is the most important election of my life.  At the risk of getting (more) hysterical and irrational than I usually am, I really believe that the choice between Barack Obama and John McCain is one between the future of our civilization and some cold, pale simulacrum of a democracy. 

McCain’s campaign has engaged in sleaze and slander on a scale that’s surprising everyone who knows him, and his choice for VP has not raised questions about his ability to lead, but could also mean that someone who had never left the U.S. — never even had the desire! — until visiting troops in Kuwait, someone who supports the banning of books and the eradication of choice, who denies our role in global warming, who thinks that creationism ought be taught in public schools, who doesn’t believe in sex education or the use of stem cells for research, and who has been on the national scene for approximately two weeks, might be president in the near future.  It’s terrifying.

We need to do all we can to elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden, two candidates who exemplify all that John McCain Sarah Palin are not.  But here’s the wrinkle: I’m having a child in October.  I can’t leave my family to volunteer in a swing state, and I can’t take a leave from my job to help out with the campaign.

So given that I’ll be at home with a young child — whose future could be so bright if Obama is elected — how can I channel all of my excess energy in ensuring that my kid grows up governed by an Obama Administration?



  1. Josh,

    I was in your shoes and quit my job at Fannie Mae in 2004 in August to join Kerry / Edwards as a volunteer. (So glad I’m not at Fannie any more!)

    The election “was the most important in my lifetime” and revolution would break out in the streets if W was re – elected.

    And I did what I could for my then 6 month old son, Joseph.

    Then, well you know what happened.

    And, you know what, life happened and the world and the country moved forward.

    Civilization did not end. Revolution did not break out.

    I started 😉

    Suggestion of what not to do?

    Don’t phone spam voters with calls. They don’t like them and they may vote for the other guy if they get too many.



  2. I had the same feeling all last week while watching the RNC and seeing people’s enthusiasm for Sarah Palin. I wanted to run out the house, hop on a plane/bus/train and campaign in a swing state. I can’t bear to see McCain/Palin in the White House. Come on, America, don’t fail me again.

  3. I’m going to disagree with one of the earlier comments and say that the #1 thing you can do is join and get a list of people to call in swing states. After canvassing it is the most effective way to personally engage people.

    The site also has a new tool called “Neighbor to Neighbor” that gives you a canvass list/map for your neighborhood. While NY is not in play, you may be able to convince others to volunteer as well.

  4. Great ideas, Darren. What, are you part of the Obama campaign or something 🙂

    MyBo is awesome. This is first time I’m actually gonna use it, though.

  5. Darren: “After canvassing it is the most effective way to personally engage people.”

    You are right. If the person on the phone actually understands their problems, issues, and concerns. If the person is “like them”.

    But calling people really pisses them off. I should know. I did 1000’s of voluteer calls in 04 into Cleveland and in 06 into Northern Virginia for Webb. What did I get, mostly, if there was someone on the other end of the line? Pissed off voters. That is what.

    I have over 60,000 people who have registered at because they are sick and tired of politicians feeling like they have the right to:

    – email them
    – send direct mail
    – robo call them
    – phone them
    – canvass them

    Part of the problem in US politics is that voters don’t believe any of this stuff, even when it comes from a live person.

    This is my issue: Why would a farmer in IN or Iowa or anywhere want to have a discussion about XXXX candidate with someone that does not live in their state and neighborhood.

    Door to door canvassing works?

    Why. Because it is neighbors talking to neighbors.

    Remember Dean’s orange hats in Iowa before the caucuses? All those kids in farm land who did not have a clue about farming and their lives.

    Did they do a thing for Dean?

    What gives people the right to invade the privacy of voters and ask them who they are voting for?

    There is no right to invade the privacy of voters. None.


  6. shaun,

    what would you suggest as an alternative, then? have you simply given up on acting on your political beliefs since people are annoyed at being cold-called by volunteers?

    im not trying to provoke you, im honestly wondering what you would suggest as another way of trying to help your candidate win the election.

  7. RB,

    – Give money
    – Write letters to editors
    – Call call in shows
    – Talk to your friends (note friends and your)
    – Write an op-ed
    – Twitter !
    – Give money
    – Blog
    – Have a house party, with your friends
    – Give money

    98% of the media budget in a campaign is spent on TV ads.

    Help the campaign fund those ads.

    Don’t make calls.


    PS: Data on calls and other forms of outreach and communications? Read Green and Gerber’s GOTV book.

    Or, read this article:

  8. I forgot to add this:

    – If you don’t live in a battle ground state you don’t understand or get the absolute insanity that comes with a presidential election.

    Our member report receiving up to 20 robo calls a day. Yes, a day.

    Thrown on: canvassing, tv, radio and internet, volunteer phones, direct mail, unions, pacs, 527’s etc…. and you have an electorate that is just ready for it all to stop and ready to NEVER listen to another call in their lives.

    And, no, they can not just take the phone off the hook.



  9. “This is my issue: Why would a farmer in IN or Iowa or anywhere want to have a discussion about XXXX candidate with someone that does not live in their state and neighborhood.”

    Because we’re all U.S. citizens? Because we’re not as different as we’ve been led to believe?

    The absolute best part of canvassing out of state was meeting people from different worlds who I never would have met otherwise and really liking them.

    Blogging/Twittering/talking with friends is important, but in most cases you’ll be addressing people a lot like yourself, who think a lot like you.

    As for the voter fatigue, it’s totally understandable that people in swing states get overwhelmed, but if Spiderman taught us anything, it’s that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

  10. “The absolute best part of canvassing out of state was meeting people from different worlds who I never would have met otherwise and really liking them.”


    Not to be flip, but notice how this is all about you and how you feel. What about the people being canvassed?

    Seriously, think about it. Would you want people you don’t know knocking on your door all day long. Throw on top of that robo calls, and volunteer calls.

    Forget the TV, Radio, print, bill boards, etc…

    It is an invasion of privacy for the voter.

    I know how it feels – I did canvassing in 2004 in Cleveland. It made ME feel good.

    I doubt it changed a single mind for my candidate (Kerry).

    In fact, I’ll never forget knocking on the door and finding a 10 year old boy answering the door. He asked who I was supporting and I said Kerry.

    He asked me what John Kerry’s name stood for.

    Answer JOKE (JOhn KErry).



  11. Josh, and anyone else who is looking for a way to target their action against the primary source of McCain’s recent popularity,

    Join this campaign that launched on The Point today:

    It’s a great idea – funding swing state ads to educate people about Palin. I know the organizer – she’s done some great campaigns on The Point and I’m sure she’ll do a great job with this one.

    What I love about this is that it’s an ad that’s written, funded, and organized entirely by normal people – there’s no proverbial MoveOn to vilify.

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