We are the ones we've been waiting for.- Barack Obama
By this point in the campaign, it's entirely clear what kind of campaign the GOP is going to run. Although it's not any surprise, last week's GOP convention made it crystal clear that the McSame campaign will run on the same old divisive scare tactics that have vaulted them into the White House in the last two elections. They will spread outright lies about our nominee and drop not so subtle hints that he's not patriotic enough. They'll try to divide the country and make us afraid of the angry, elitist, "big spending" liberals that will run it. And if you think the Convention was bad, I have some news that won't surprise anyone: we ain't seen nothin yet. For if there was one disturbing lesson that the GOP took away from 2004, it's that Swiftboating works. So expect in the final two weeks of this election, after the last debate on October 16, to see the release of a last-minute fury 527-funded swiftboat-attacks with an intensity the likes of which we've never seen before.
But I have some news for them. It's NOT going to work. NOT. THIS. TIME. And here's why.
Over the last few weeks, I have been a frequent reader of Daily Kos, but I haven't commented very much. Instead, I've largely sat back and watch the site in full-scale General Election mode. And I've been amazed. The facts-based destruction of the Palin nomination has been stunning to watch. In the first week after her selection as VP, we have uncovered literally hundreds of scandals and serious defects in her character that make her unfit to potentially lead this country. And we've done it largely without the traditional media. The media still plays a big role of course. But whenever anyone, anywhere reports some new dirt, we no longer have to wait for the story to become big enough for the MSM to announce it. Instead, we bypass them completely, and post it here where it immediately gets thousands of views. This then increases the demand for the MSM to report on it, and it becomes much more likely they will do so. As a result, a story that in the pre-blog age would never have come to light through traditional MSM channels, now explodes into the public consciousness through the route of Source-->Blog-->MSM.
But it has also occured to me that we are still VASTLY underestimating the power of this medium for change-oriented liberal activism. Sure, we gather here and spread ideas and news stories and often bypass the MSM to get to the real issues. But I don't think we've even scratched the surface in terms of how this new age can transform action-driven grassroots campaigning.
We know by now that the Obama campaign has already forever altered the way political campaigns are run by tapping what appears to be an almost unlimited source power through the internet. Frank Rich notes that if there is one insight to be taken from this election season so far, it's that the pundits and MSM have been wrong about almost every story that the election is being driven in unpredictable ways by the new tech-driven political climate. Because the Obama campaign was the first to start tapping the full implications of this new source, it was able to upset what seemed like an inevitable victory for the Clinton machine. He also notes that the General Election campaign is likely to continue to be driven in unpredictable ways by forces from the new net-driven politics that are still untapped. Let's discuss what this could mean for the final 60 days of this election.
I start with a simple premise. What if we ALL volunteered? Let's think about that one for a minute. Here's a very simple equation. More than 2 Million people have donated out of their own pockets to the Obama campaign. That is extraoridinary in itself. But what if every single one of those people volunteered for the campaign, at least a little bit? Let's say, for a minute, that each one of those people volunteered 25 hours to the campaign. That's basically three days of volunteering. You could give one day of your weekend two weeks before the election, and then both Saturday and Sunday before the election. Or you could do it another way. You could give a half hour each day for the final 50 leading up to the election. You could choose, and you could do it however you want. 25 hours is not a crushing load by any stretch. Not everyone could do it, but very many could. And to put it bluntly, this would radically change the course of the election and make an Obama victory all but inevitable, regardless of what swift-boat adds are running in the final hours.
2 million people x 25 hours each = 50 million volunteer hours. Paid at federal minimum wage, which is $6.55 an hour, that translates into an equivalent monetary donation of at least $327.5 million dollars, a crushing amount given the recording-breaking sums we've already raised. But in reality it would probably be far more effective than that. Let's think about phonebanking for a minute. If a volunteer can call 10 people in an hour, and if there are roughly 200 million cell phone/household phones in the country (a total ballpark guess on my part), then we could call every voting-age cell phone or household phone with only 20 million volunteer hours. What would be do with the remianing 30 million? How about canvassing every non-rural household in America. If you can canvass 5 residences in an hour in non-rural areas, then with the remaining 30 million hours we could knonk on the doors and personally vouch for Obama to the people of 150 million non-rural households. So while McCain will be bombing the airwaves in the final two weeks, we could roll out the most massive on the ground grassroots volunteer campaign in the history of the human race. And we all know that human interaction makes a far greater impact on how a person votes than an impersonal TV add does. If we actually did this, I don't see how we could possibly lose this election. It is a sure road to victory.
So what would it take to launch the largest grassroots campaign in history? Probably not much more than one email. Picture this, you wake up one morning next week with another email in your inbox from the Obama campaign. Only this one isn't asking you to donate money, its asking you to donate time. It says that in response to the thousands of supporters who are asking them how they can best help in the final push to election day, the campaign has decided to open a drive to tap into our volunteering abilities and grassroots spirit. The email would ask you to pledge to contribute a given number of hours to the campaign. Just like their fundraising emails, this is totally voluntary. You pledge what you think you can give and then don't sweat it. Based on responses at their website, the campaign could very quickly tell us, instead of how much money we've raised, how many hours we've pledged. I think we could easily rack up at least 10 million pledged hours in the first week or so after this email. The point is that those hours could then be "spent" as election day nears in intelligent ways guided by the campaign. For instance, people who want to phonebank could just dial up the campaign and get a list of numbers that, according to their files, are from democratic, lean democratic, or swing voters. The campaign already provides many insightful ways to do this another things like it. It has many means on the website for people to volunteer in easy and convenient ways. If you haven't yet registered with the Obama for America webiste, please do so, as that is ultimately the medium that will have to drive this massive effort.
So the basic idea is very simple. Instead of just donating dollars, we need to donate hours also. However, those hours need to be "spent" in wise ways under the direction of the campaign. The campaign seems to have been organizing itself for something like this for the whole summer. All the work done by Obama Organzing Fellows, and all the cellphone numbers they have collected will presumbably be rolled into this massive effort. But I think that we the people should stand up and actually ask the campaign to roll a volunteer initiative along these lines. In order to help alert the campaign that this is something we want to do, I have written a blog on the Obama website. Please follow the link and DIGG it so that the campaign will take notice.
The bottom line is this: our army of more than 2 million small donors must be quickly transformed into an army of 2 million on-the-ground volunteers to carry out the largest grassroots campaign in history. I can think of nothing else would so quickly deflate the GOP air attack machine than this. By pulling together, we will overcome our obstacles and retake this nation that we love.
And to close, I'll leave you with this inspriing video that the campaign just released a few days ago in order to show us what is possible when we all pull together and volunteer. As Barack always says, if we stand up and act to take our country back, then "We won't just win an election, we'll transform this nation and the world."
Finally, I would ask you all, if you think this important, to REC this diary up so that people can see it and DIGG the link at the Obama website so that it comes to their attention. I think that a stategy like this will be essential in sealing the deal for us in November.