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We're from Alabama and We're Here to Help

A couple of weeks ago KGardner posted an inspiring diary entitled "Obama's Ground Game Will Make 2008 Look Like Jurassic Park" - Here's Your Ground Game describing how motivated Democrats from Knoxville, Tennessee, were spending their weekdays calling voters in North Carolina, and their weekends crossing the border into North Carolina:

Every weekend, cars full of volunteers drive over the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee into our neighboring state. Last weekend, over 70 went. Obama supporters in North Carolina gladly open their hearts and their homes. The volunteers start walking, door-to-door, talking to people about our President – gathering more volunteers, registering people to vote. The net widens exponentially every single day. And remember, this has been going on, quietly, since last summer.
After all, Tennessee is a red state and according to Nate Silver there is a 99.8% chance that Mitt Romney will win its eleven Electoral College votes. It just makes sense that if you are a Democrat living in Tennessee who supports President Obama, and want to make a difference in this election; you're going to use your energy to be part of the ground game in a swing state like North Carolina.

Have you ever thought about the other side of this strategy? What about Republicans who actively support Mitt Romney who live in a non-swing state? It makes sense that they too would want to make a difference for their candidate and would use a similar tactic. Rachel Maddow has been thinking about this. In the last segment of Friday night's edition of The Rachel Maddow Show she considered the possibility that Alabama Republicans traveling to Ohio might not work out so well.

Personally, I have a fondness for Alabama. As a child I lived in Alabama during my grade school years, from third through sixth grade. I distinctly remember more than once during recess on the playground other children asking me, “Are you a Yankee or a Rebel?” And not knowing the answer or what the question even meant. After graduating high school in Florida, I returned to attend college there. I have family and friends that I love and adore that still live in Alabama, especially my aunt who sent me a text message tonight.

I have very few allies in the current political “argument.” This part of Alabama is either solid black (Democrats) or pretty solid white (Republicans)! As always. How are things where you live?
My aunt is an 80-year-old white woman who is a Democrat living in an area of the country where most of the people she knows are Republicans. So she has nobody around her to talk to about the current presidential race. Tomorrow I will call her and try to cheer her up by assuring her that President Obama has got this!

While I was transcribing Rachel's segment, there were moments that I thought that perhaps there was a little bit of stereotyping in what Rachel was saying. She quoted one article about the Alabama Republican Governor who said at his inauguration so anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savor, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister. Another article Rachel referenced talked about a “Republican state senator in Alabama who wrote and distributed a speech about how slavery was not only justified by the Bible, he said the under appreciated thing about slavery in the United States was how good slavery was for black people.” That was in 1996. My gut reaction was to tell Rachel that all people in Alabama do not think like that.

By the time I finished the transcription I realized that the point Rachel was making was that the Republicans from Alabama who would be traveling to Ohio to campaign for Mitt Romney were enthusiastic Republicans of the Deep South brand. After all, these people are so enthusiastic about Mitt Romney who loves cheesy grits that they are uprooting their lives to travel to Ohio to campaign on his behalf. And I have to wonder along with Rachel about just how much help these people from Alabama will be to Mitt Romney's goal of winning Ohio by bringing their particular brand of Republicanism to Ohio. Remember KGardner's diary? She said “this has been going on, quietly, since last summer.” Alabama Republicans are planning to deploy to other states (Ohio, Florida and Virginia) for only four-day trips at the end of October. North Carolina was originally one of the targeted states but seems to have been dropped from the list. Perhaps they heard about all the work KGardner and her friends have been doing in North Carolina and were dissuaded, or maybe they think Mitt Romney has nothing to worry about there, or maybe there just aren't enough volunteers.

The exciting news at the end of the show was that we did not have to go to jail tonight. As you probably already know, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell is only on Monday through Thursday nights, and so on Fridays MSNBC usually broadcast episodes of the Lockup series. What a pleasant surprise it was to see a special edition of The Last Word hosted by Ezra Klein. I'm already a big fan and I hope that this is an indication that it will be a regular Friday feature, or even better, that Ezra Klein will soon be hosting his own show on MSNBC.

The video and transcription are below the fleur-de-orange. What do you think? Is it a good idea for Alabama Republicans to go to Ohio to campaign for Mitt Romney? Will they be any help to him in his quest to win the state on Election Day?

We're from Alabama and We're Here to Help

Here is the direct link to watch the video at MSNBC for those who use an iPad or other device that cannot view embedded videos.

Are you a non-swing state voter? I am, too. I feel your pain. If you live in New York or Mississippi or Oklahoma or Vermont, there's not a lot of mystery about the election in your state this year. In years like this, no matter how excited you are about the presidential election, if you are a non-swing state voter, you can sort of feel like you don't count. But there's always phone banking, right? Calling people from your non-swing state; calling people who are in swing states to try to convince those folks to vote for one candidate or the other. Usually when non-swing staters get involved, it's stuff like that; it's phone calls, right? But on the left there have been some fun culture clashes over the years involving Democrats from liberal places, not just phone calling, but physically getting up and going to swing states to try and help the Democratic candidates in undecided America. You saw that famously in 1968 with the Get Clean for Gene idea. Hippy college kids flooding into New Hampshire to campaign for Eugene McCarthy who was running as an anti-Viet Nam war challenger to President Lyndon Johnson in the primary. Those young volunteers famously underwent dehippiefying makeovers, right? So that the New Hampshire electorate would not feel accosted or creeped out by these subversive outsider long-haired loons.
Video fo News Report

David Brinkley speaking: By bus or own cars and otherwise, they have come to New Hampshire from campuses not only in the Northeast but as far away as the South and the Midwest; a ten hour bus ride sometimes. In the morning at the headquarters in an empty store, they got a little briefing on how to canvas door to door in the most effective way so as to win votes for their man McCarthy rather than loosing them.

Man speaking to volunteers: ... have had three weeks to do. More than anything since your encounter with the voters will be brief they're going to judge you on your appearance and demeanor. And so it's just crucial that you pay very close attention to the appearance you are presenting.
Get your haircut, hippies. Your appearance. Your demeanor. Clean for Gene volunteers did make a difference. Gene McCarthy got 42% of the vote in New Hampshire primary and ultimately President Johnson went on to quit the race.

You know, you saw a similar mass influx in 2004 in Iowa on behalf of the anti-Iraq war Democratic candidacy of Vermont Governor Howard Dean. The Dean campaign called it the Perfect Storm; an estimated 3500 Howard Dean supporters converging on Iowa ahead of the caucuses. The Perfect Storm campaigners were easy to spot because they wore these day-glo safety orange stocking caps. In the end Howard Dean finished a disappointing third place in Iowa; the Perfect [Orange Hat] Storm did not work. The news editor at at the time suggested putting yourself in the boots of an average Iowa Democrat. Quote, The campaign is so intense that it has become a form of political harassment. Your phone rings every 10 minutes with an automated robo-call on behalf of one candidate or another. Your mailbox is jammed with political junk mail. Then comes a knock on your door and there you find a couple of committed campaigners from Park Slope or Noe Valley or Wicker Park telling you that Howard Dean is your man. And they’re wearing these really loud orange caps. ... I can’t help but think the Dean-ites came off as a little precious, maybe even a little bit cultish, in those caps [See: The curse of the orange hats by Edward W. Lempinen,, January 20, 2004].

How your campaign presents itself when it is deploying volunteers to disputed territory; every nuance of how you present yourself in that circumstance matters. And this year's no exception. Consider the great state of Alabama. There's no mystery where Alabama's electoral votes are going to go this fall, right? So if you're really psyched about the presidential election this year and you're from Alabama, there's really no use in your volunteering and canvassing in your hometown. So Alabama Democrats this year have been taking  their pent up desire to work for the President's reelection and they've turn it into sending car loads of Alabama Democratic volunteers across the border into the Florida panhandle to campaign for President Obama there.

Battleground PatriotsAgain, the Democrats are not going far. They're going right over their state border to that part of Florida that sometimes gets called Florabama because it seems so much like Alabama over there. That's what the Democrats are doing. But the Republicans from Alabama, they are not just day tripping across the state border to somewhere very much like where they are. No, the Republicans in Alabama are going long. Two hundred Alabama Republican volunteers have reportedly signed up to campaign in Ohio. And in some other states in the House, but also Ohio; going door to door, soliciting votes for Mitt Romney [See: With Alabama secure for Mitt Romney, parties aim elsewhere, The Associated Press, October 1, 2012]. In great Howard Dean Perfect Storm style, the Alabama Republicans have a name for the volunteers they're going to be busing around the country. They're calling them Battleground Patriots [See: Alabama's Battleground Patriots]. And they're not just going on trips to Ohio or North Carolina or Florida or Virginia; they say that they are going on deployments. So bus loads of Alabama Republicans are deploying. They're going to descend on swing states later this month to persuade people who aren't necessarily going to vote for Mitt Romney, that those people ought to vote for Mitt Romney.

Republican PartyOne of the things that Mr. Romney is up against in this election is that regardless of how voters say the feel about individual candidates, voters this year do not like the idea of the Republican Party. The Republican Party is not selling right now. More people dislike the Republican Party than like it. And so now into that political reality, what we're going to do is take Alabama Republicans and spread ’em out around the country. Send them out to meet undecided voters in Ohio, to remind those undecided or independent voters what Republicanism is all about. Hi, we’re from Alabama and we're here to help. Hey, Ohio, when you’re thinking about voting for Mitt Romney, think Alabama Republicans.

On the day of his inauguration, Alabama's current Republican governor Robert Bentley said quote anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savor, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister [See: Gov.-elect Robert Bentley intends to be governor over all, but says only Christians are his 'brothers and sisters' by David White, The Birmingham News, January 17, 2011]. Inauguration day. The last time we had a Democratic president running for reelection in 1996, it was a Republican state senator in Alabama who wrote and distributed a speech about how slavery was not only justified by the Bible, he said the under appreciated thing about slavery in the United States was how good slavery was for black people [See: Bible Backed Slavery, Says A Lawmaker by David White, The Associated Press,  May 10, 1996]. This was in 1996; not 1896. And the reaction by Alabama Republicans? Well, they just kept him around. He stayed in the state senate for two more years after the slavery was good for black people thing. Why not? Why get rid of him? What's the problem?

Last year when demonstrators came to Alabama to protest its draconian new anti-immigrant law, the Alabama Republican Party Chairman [Bill Armistead] told the local press quote This is reminiscent of others coming into our state to cause trouble [See: JOEY KENNEDY: Immigration law bringing Alabama all the attention it doesn't need, The Birmingham News, November 22, 2011]. Reminds you of that, huh? The Mitt Romney for president campaign is about to get the benefit, in probably the most important swing state in the country, of a self proclaimed deployment of hundreds of Republican partisans from Alabama spreading out through Ohio, knocking on doors, talking to people who are statistically likely to have a very negative view of Republicans. They're going to be making the case to those people that this visit from the Republican Party of Alabama is why you should vote for Mitt Romney. Undecided Ohio voter, meet a bus full of Alabama Republicans. What could possibly go wrong? I wonder if they will have matching hats?

That does it for us tonight. Now it's time for a special live Friday edition of The Last Word. Have a great night.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks. I missed the show (7+ / 0-)

    and am up early - nothing but prison stuff on MSNBC.

    I think that the visits/deployments will be an interesting "culture clash".  

    Wonder if some Ohio folks whose doors they knock on can convert any of these zealots?  :)


    "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now". Rev. William Barber, If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 12:34:08 AM PDT

  •  loved it (8+ / 0-)

    cat asleep on arm -- can't type.

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 12:35:34 AM PDT

    •  I can totally relate to that ... we have 18 cats. (4+ / 0-)

      But you're a lot more tolerant then me. I would lift the cat off my arm and move it somewhere else.

      “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

      by hungrycoyote on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 12:38:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well...he needs some cuddles. (0+ / 0-)

        I think he's a housecat who was abandoned.  I live in a no-pet building, so if I'm at work, or out, so is he.

        So after he gets his dinner, he wants to cuddle.  Maybe it's reassurance that I won't abandon him to the street, too.

        His fur is certainly a lot nicer in the months since he's been getting a regular diet of cat food...and he's a lot cleaner b/c he has a safe place to sleep and groom himself.

        I call him Buddy.  He's white with a gray saddle, head, and tail.  And he's very long -- why I think he was well-nourished as a kitten.  His body is long, and his tail is also long.

        You, of course, know the dangers to a long cat with a long is so easy to accidentally step on said tail while said cat is twining around your ankles when you're attempting to put cat food into cat bowl.

        Need I say more?

        To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

        by Youffraita on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 12:11:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good morning! (5+ / 0-)

    As Dee says above, the culture clash between deep south Republicans, who are also evangelicals, and northeast conservatives might not work out too well.
    My parents, who are from Philly, but live in Florida, and are both Republicans of the moderate NE sort, are a bit horrified when one of their friends goes off on some sort of "the world will end if Obama gets reelected" rant.
    They're not Obama fans, but they also get their news primarily from PBS and not Fox, and have never been church-goers, so that kind of rhetoric is lost on them.

    “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

    by skohayes on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 04:19:11 AM PDT

  •  actually not that bad of an idea for them (3+ / 0-)

    Remember that these swing states have very rural, "red" areas and in a turn out election, they might get some reluctant Republicans to show up.

    "Obama won. Get over it."

    by onanyes on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 04:21:22 AM PDT

    •  They're going to Dayton, Ohio. I'm (0+ / 0-)

      not familiar with Ohio. Are there a lot those rural areas near Dayton?

      “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

      by hungrycoyote on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 10:20:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As Rachel was laying it all out, (3+ / 0-)

    I tried to imagine this Yankee going door to door in the South.  From "Hi, my name is...," people would know I was not exactly a neighbor from a couple streets over.  I wouldn't blame them a bit for being angry at or resistant to an outsider coming in to try to tell them what to do or think.  As much as I hate to admit it, the same would be true if they came to my neighborhood.  That business about politics being local isn't just a made-up saying.  People trust people like them.

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 04:27:24 AM PDT

  •  I've been very selective about (4+ / 0-)

    Out-of-state campaigning, for this very reason. Having lived in NYC my whole life, it's difficult to disguise my accent, either linguistically or politically. And I think about how I'd feel if someone from, say Ohio showed up on my doorstep in an attempt to sway my political opinions.

    He's what I've done:
    GOTV in south FL for the last week of the campaign in 2004 and 2008. My parents lived there for 20 years, and it's my second home. Completely comfortable working there.

    Canvassing and voter reg in eastern PA, in mostly black neighborhoods. Confident that we are on the same side.

    Phone banking GOTV into other swing states, but the lists are Democrats. I try to treat every person I speak to with respect, and awareness that there may be cultural differences between us. I want their vote, not to turn them into me.

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

    by sidnora on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 04:43:55 AM PDT

  •  I am from Ga and it won't work (6+ / 0-)

    That civil war will never be over.  Rebels crossing over into yankee territory.  The Northern people will be tolerant but the southerners will be pushy.  It will start out with Mitt, the conversation will end up about Sherman's march through Atlanta and about Abe Lincoln being a non president.   There is no endearment between the deep south and the North.  I can see it now.
    Ya'll voting for Romney?
    Don't know ( answer)
    Well ya'll ain't voting for that Muslim anti christ are you?
    We haven't decided who (answer)
    What church you go to?  You been saved and baptized?
    I do not belong to any church ( answer)
    Well you heatherns are going to hell and I want to tell you we will be all worshipping Allah if that Muslim gets back in and furthermore..ya'll are just stupid yankees like that New York and California bunch.  ( They will include California in the northern mix)  Ya;ll are godless, believe in killing babies, and all kinds of perverted stuff.
    We did alright in the south till you came down and started messing things up.  If you don't vote Mitt you are unamerican.  Get a job !
    The door will slam and they will try that approach again.
    That is the only one republicans from the south know.
    There goes that undecided to our team

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 05:08:32 AM PDT

    •  God, I hate that crap... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      antirove, hungrycoyote, Vetwife

      I tell ya, if any yahoo "rebel" asshole tried to pull that shit on me, I'd let them have it.

      It's crap like this that makes it hard not to stereotype, and I know Kossacks from places like these are embarrassed by people like this and always need to remind everyone that most certainly not all Southerners are like this and that we shouldn't blast an entire state or an entire region because of the collateral damage to the good people living there. I know that and it's a good point. However, we know people like this exist and it's hard to believe until you see it in the flesh face-to-face. And people like the type you describe can dish it out, but they can't take it. It's OK for them to use "Yankee" as a slur and assume everyone would agree with it--until they actually CAME UP to Yankeeland up here.

      I've always wanted a bumper sticker that reads "Northern Liberal Yankee by the Grace of God!"

      "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

      by terabthia2 on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 06:29:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Amen terabthia 2...See I can quote it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        verbatum because I was borne and raised in Ga but I also traveled and the ones who are like this mostly are pushy republican PROUD southerners. (Born ins America..Southern by the grace of God) that you referred to.. I think by the way you should start those bumper stickers.. I liked it.  

          These are the same people who fought to keep the rebel flag, did not want integration and adore Newt Gingrich.  I am also a democrat.  Florida is actually a pretty diverse state and here I am comfortable, there is enough northern attitude to balance the good ole boys.  NOT everyone in Ga is like that but I say the majority are including old Zell who was a democrat.  Refight the civil war everyday.

        We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

        by Vetwife on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 01:24:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Zell Miller... (0+ / 0-)

          I think of all the political convention speeches I've seen and read transcripts from, I think his from 2004 is the one I hate the most. There aren't enough nasty pejoratives I can think of to describe that petulant piece of provincial hate-filled dreck. It was filled nonstop with Southern dog whistles about how much he hates that Damn Snooty Northern liberal fag John Kerry and how he took "his" precious party away so it became a "National Party No More". (hey, Zell, how's that GOP thing workin' out for ya now?)

          Glad Zell Miller is Gone With the Wind now. :)

          "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

          by terabthia2 on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 02:30:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yep....I remember but that old dude must (0+ / 0-)

            have had alzheimers or something considering he was a decent governor and never acted like that.   He just flipped.  Maybe he was that racist all along....but sure hid it.  Remember how he went off on Twitty?

            We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

            by Vetwife on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 06:45:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I'm from Columbus. I've lived in North Carolina (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hungrycoyote, Vetwife

      northern Missouri and now central Pennsylvania. I couldn't wait to move out of Durham. Someone actually yelled "Damn Yankee" at me. The false "charm" while spewing coded racist themes was disgusting. And because I'm white they felt totally comfortable doing this. And, you're right - the War of Northern Aggression is by no means over.

      Ohioans will be polite, but the Southern Republican brand will turn off most, if not all, Ohioans north of the river area. Ohio Republicans are by-and-large not social conservatives - again that's north of the river area.

  •  I think large chunks of rural Ohio (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    would not be hostile at all to Alabama republicans.  In fact, I think they would be downright receptive.

  •  Oh Please let one come to my door! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    [altho not likely, with my Obama/Biden/SherrodBrown
    signs in the yard.]

  •  Tipped & rec'ed; ain't gonna fly in OH; people (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Don't  like the statehouse Rs. They suck; outsiders are worse.

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 08:12:10 AM PDT

  •  Oh, I so hope they visit me. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Can I contact them and let them know how terribly undecided I am? Oh, please, please let an Alabama Republican come to my neighborhood to tell me how to vote. Please, please.

    by Magenta on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 10:22:41 AM PDT

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