It was almost exactly four years ago, some time in February of 2007, when I showed up to a meeting in a rented church hall with a lot of like minded individuals from my community for the first gathering of what became East Bay for Obama.
If you read my diaries over the last four years, you would know what happened next: Barack Obama ruined my life. Rewrote all my plans. Worked me harder than I ever imagined. And I couldn't be happier about it. Of course I thought I was done in November of 2008. Of course I was totally wrong about that.
Now here we are four years later, and the stakes are actually higher. We have to defend what we've managed to win -- at such great cost -- all over again. Which means we have to be the most organized and effective volunteer political force in history. Again.
Now we have an online space to meet, talk, share, plan and organize.
It's called 4more, and it's a new Daily Kos User Group.
If you want to get involved in the re-elect, or just learn more about it, that's where we'll be.
In the end, it's still all about Hope.
The other side still traffics in the Phobocracy. In the currency of fear and despair. In a dark and difficult world it is so very tempting to just give in to those emotions. But everything we want to achieve requires us to be brave, and to offer hope instead.
Watching the President speak last night at the State of the Union I felt he showed us the choice, quite clearly, between Hope and Fear. And the GOP response to the speech doubled down on that difference. We can fear our future or we can shape it. We can fear the other or embrace each other. We can despair over the gap between our ideals and reality, or we can rise to the challenge of closing it.
I know which side I am on.
We the People, in order to form a more perfect Union . . .
Last night in Tucson, the one time Professor of Constitutional Law read us the most important part of our founding document in his own remarkable way. His moving address pays tribute again and again to those opening words (which I have to make an effort to avoid singing as I type them).
And one can see, in a line drawn from Boston to Philadelphia to Tucson, that this single phrase more than any other explains the politics of President Obama. He tells us, again and again what he told us last night. The foundation of our Constitution and our nation is "we the people," who have chosen union above separation. Our legacy, and our duty to each other, is that we must strive continuously to perfect it.
"Hi, I'm a volunteer with Organizing for America."
ICYMI (In Case You Missed It), that one little phrase has been repeated over and over hundreds -- thousands -- likely at this point millions -- of times since early 2009. Each time it is an effort to personally engage someone else to take action. To go to a townhall meeting or a rapid response rally and make sure the tea party is vastly outnumbered. To write a letter or make a call or send an email to someone in Washington who has the power to do something. To cast a vote for Democrats in an important election.
It's tedious, backbreaking and often invisible work. And it's intense, addictive, life-altering, joyful and heartbreaking. So ICYMI . . .
Right now, somewhere in California, organizers across the state are on the phone filling volunteer canvass shifts for Election Day. Data volunteers are printing stacks of call and walk lists and doorhanger labels. Phonebank captains are charging up cell phones and making copies of the script.
GOTV - Get Out The Vote - has started, and there are only a few days left to make a difference. We have to spend those days going all out to win. There's no other choice, because this election matters too much to California and to our country.
Everything is ready. We have trained and prepped and sacrificed and built toward this moment for months: it's time to Get Out The Hope.
Click Here to Find a California GOTV Staging Location On Election Day November 2
"The most important thing we learned is that change is possible." -- Barack Obama speaking to OFA volunteers on March 23, 2010, hours after signing healthcare reform into law
"Hope is a four letter word." -- femlaw, writing on January 16, 2009.
Barack Obama ruined my life.
When I moved to California in 2005, I had a plan: graduate school, a new career in academia, and enjoying the lovely Bay Area life with my family. Being part of a political campaign was definitely not in the plan.
Along the way, I went all in on a big important Presidential election, volunteering at ever-increasing levels and finally joining the campaign staff in August of 2008. I thought it was just a detour and that in November I could leave it all behind, having done my part when it really counted. I was wrong.
We face another critical election where the outcome will determine if we build on the progress we have started or turn away. And I have just joined the paid staff for OFA in California.
Turns out hope is still a four letter word.
For three years now conventional political wisdom has got August all wrong. In August of 2007 the Obama primary campaign was "done." In August of 2008 Sarah Palin was a sensation who could deliver the Presidency to John McCain. In August of 2009 the tea party killed healthcare for good.
And now it's August again. Silly season. We hear the Democrats are doomed, they have no game, and the on the ground enthusiasm that powered 2008 is gone.
OFA hit its goal of over 200,000 attempts at the doors this weekend and another 168,000 on the phones for Democratic candidates. Seems a whole lot of folks didn't get that memo about the "enthusiasm gap."
Update: DCCC is reporting an additional 200,000 doors!
I'm sitting here surrounded by laptops, walk lists, tally sheets, and volunteers who started today before 8:00 a.m. We are doing the critical last step of our big OFA canvass day - entering the data and adding up our results.
Today started off great with a canvass kickoff led by Barbara Boxer herself. The place was packed, and seriously fired up. And I have been hearing stories all day from elsewhere in California, and around the country, as OFA and DCCC work to reach out to the voters we need to turn out in November.
I wrote on Thursday about how OFA had big plans to hit 200,000 doors this weekend. Now we will collect the data to see if we hit the numbers. Because the relentless pursuit of hard numbers is how field campaigns win.
But behind every number is a voter, and a story -- and an organizer. And here's our chance to tell our stories about today. So if you canvassed, or helped set up a staging location, or talking to an organizer at your door, tell us what happened. Post your pictures.
I've spent most of this summer training people to carry out the massive, unprecedented, voter contact program that is OFA Vote 2010. At last weekend's training - designed especially to support organizers doing Latino Vote Outreach - I laid out our strategy. I talked about how this election is going to be very close, especially for our key races in California. About the choice we face and how much is at stake.
And I talked about how we can win -- by changing who votes in midterm elections.
And because I have also spent most of the summer studying up on GOTV research, I know the best way to change who votes: personal contact. Block by block, door by door, voter by voter.
This weekend, OFA and the DCCC will be out talking to the voters who need to come out this fall, making a difference in close races across the country. But we can't do it without your help.
Sign up for a Moving America Forward Canvass Here
Last week some OFA California volunteers got a special treat - a personal visit to our LA and Oakland offices from the architect of the 2008 Obama campaign, and a recognition of how our ground game is critical to success this fall in the midterms.
As I tweeted after he arrived:
David Plouffe was there to get us even more fired up about Vote 2010, OFA's plan to bring the Obama surge voters back to the polls again this fall. He was stopping by on his way to a fundraiser -- and had made a similar drop in at our LA office the day before -- to talk to us about how we can rewrite the narrative on the November elections.
It's one of those crazy, big challenges that seems almost impossible, but if it did work we would make history.
Stop me if you've heard this one before . . .
For the last several months, Organizing for America has been hosting strategy sessions for the Vote 2010 plan. In California we have had almost 100 of these sessions with big and small groups in communities up and down the state, to get feedback on our plan to make a big difference in the midterm elections.
Today starting at 4:30 p.m. EST, OFA is hosting an online version of our strategy session for anyone across the country who wants to tune in to hear the plan and participate in the conversation. It is being led by David Plouffe, the campaign manager for the historic 2008 Presidential campaign, and Mitch Stewart, the director of OFA. As Mitch said in today's email:
Today's session will be a special insider briefing you won't want to miss -- you'll get details on what OFA's planning for the midterm elections and how you can help candidates fighting for change.
Click here to RSVP, and read on to learn more.
OFA VOTE 2010 ONLINE STRATEGY SESSION
It was shaping up to be a mellow MLK weekend for me this past January. I was pretty wiped out from working on healthcare and so I wasn't looking for a big job. But it turns out a big job was looking for me and thousands of other OFA volunteer organizers. A Massachusetts Senate race that had previously polled with a comfortable lead for Martha Coakley was suddenly too close to call.
We know the rest of that story - in ten days OFA mobilized an entire GOTV operation from scratch. We made up a stunning amount of ground, but it wasn't enough. We needed more time.
Fortunately, the midterms aren't ten days away, they are 190. But we will need an army of highly trained organizers mobilizing an even larger pool of volunteers for races across the country. And this OFA army will be implementing Vote 2010: bringing the 2008 "Obama surge" voters back to the polls. If we can do it, that could change progressive politics forever.