Posts Tagged ‘2012’

We the people

The power of the people inspired me today, more than usual.

It actually started yesterday, when the voice of reason prevailed in many elections across the country, with people triumphing over politics. Today, I had the honor of meeting Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who I admire greatly. And tonight, I had the privilege of speaking about President Obama’s accomplishments to date at a volunteer team meeting for Organizing for America (OFA), the President’s grassroots team.

The last 24 hours have had an energy about them, a feeling of forward momentum and optimism. When Debbie Wasserman Schultz walked in the OFA office where we were phonebanking, she brought even more energy with her. I say this with the deep respect her position warrants: She’s a spitfire. She’s smart, strong and articulate. She’s passionate about wanting to do what’s right for the country and its citizens, and she’s not shy about speaking her mind to get the job done.

The Congresswoman is a born leader, but she’s also very human. She made phone calls to constituents with the rest of us and didn’t hesitate to pitch in when furniture needed to be moved. I learned as much from that team spirit as I did from her brief remarks, which underscored that all of us can play a role in making our country better.

We, the people, have the power to make a difference.

We the peopleI carried the Congresswoman’s energy with me all day and into the evening’s OFA neighborhood team meeting. This was the first of what we now think will be a series of educational sessions to inform our friends and neighbors about key issues and mobilize more volunteers.

Fellow team members spoke about the three branches of government and recent obstructionism by the GOP, and I concluded the presentations by talking about the President’s accomplishments to date. In my 10-minute time slot, I didn’t even smudge the surface.

I came armed with two pages of bullet points. And meeting the Congresswoman reinforced what ties all those bullet points together: Everything President Obama has done — and wants to do — is focused on doing what’s right for people. Creating jobs. Growing the economy. Making healthcare coverage more affordable and available. Improving education. The list goes on.

The President, the Congresswoman and many other elected officials want to do what’s right for the country and its people. So does every single person who was at the volunteer meeting tonight.

When we asked the newcomers what they thought of the meeting, some said they felt energized. Others appreciated the learning opportunity. One woman said she’d been disillusioned, but now felt hope for the country. And every person there was motivated to take action.

My day began with inspiration from one of the leaders of the Democratic Party. It ended with inspiration from my fellow citizens. In between, I was reminded that we, the people, have the power to make a difference.

We can’t wait to take action

“Are you fired up?!”

“Yes!”

“Are you ready to win?!”

“Yes!”

“Are you ready for the Democrats to win?!”

“YES!”

That was the battle cry that began the Day of Action at our local Organizing for America (OFA) meeting. The 2012 Presidential election is one year from today, November 6, and President Obama’s campaign held a national Day of Action to recruit, inform and mobilize volunteers.

Leading the spirited chant was Melissa Bernardi, regional field director for OFA in Oakland County, Mich. She was joined by Frank Houston, chair of the Oakland County Democratic Party, in rallying the many volunteers who were there. Some of the volunteers worked on the first campaign, while others were brand-new today, wanting to know what they could do to help.

And it’s not a moment too soon. As Houston pointed out, the President has to go on the road campaigning for a jobs bill that should have passed with little fuss. Nothing in the 2012 election is going to be easy, which is why we can’t wait, he said. We have to get to work now.

Each of us was asked to decide what we would to do to help get President Obama and more Democrats elected in 2012 — and to start doing it now. We were told everything we can do is important, and the more we stretch ourselves the better. No one seemed daunted.

We can't wait to take action

After brief introductions, we split into our neighborhood groups to discuss plans we have in place and what we want to do next. Then true to the spirit of the day, we took action: making phone calls, writing letters to local newspaper editors, making signs to carry outside the GOP debate in Michigan later this week. The tasks today were, as usual, about making sure citizens understand the key issues, what the Democrats stand for and what the President wants to do to improve our country.

Everyone was eager to do their part, from the high school student who came to educate herself on the issues to the retiree who now has the time to give that he didn’t before. It was a diverse group of all ages and backgrounds, including a family that brought their kids. Seeing parents teaching their children about the importance of getting involved may have been my favorite part of the day.

Oakland County is going to be one of the fiercest battlegrounds in the 2012 election, and I don’t think a single person there today has any doubt that we can do whatever it takes to win. The volunteers were cheered on by visitors including Congressman Gary Peters and Phillip Reid, chair of the North Oakland Democratic Club, who came by to say thank you to everyone who was there.

Being appreciated is an excellent thing. But I suspect we’d all be there anyway. We believe in the people and principles we support.

How do I know? Because when Bernardi asked us to affirm our commitment one more time, I’m pretty sure they could hear us all the way to the White House.

“ARE. YOU. FIRED. UP?!”

“YESSSSSSS!”

Yes. Yes, we can. Again.

 

Meeting Michelle Obama

I didn’t actually meet Michelle Obama. But it sure felt like I did. Because her warmth and passion fill any room she’s in. And I was lucky enough to be in the same room with the First Lady.

Meeting Michelle Obama

It was a fundraising event in Detroit for President Obama’s 2012 campaign. It was a full house of enthusiastic supporters, and meeting fellow volunteers and citizens who believe in the work President and Mrs. Obama are doing for our country was electrifying.

When the First Lady was introduced, the applause and cheers must have made the ballroom’s chandeliers swing. I don’t know, because I couldn’t take my eyes off Michelle Obama. I felt so proud and grateful to be in her presence.

And then she began to talk about why she was there — why she and President Obama are so committed to the ideal of a country that includes everyone. That offers hope for everyone. That represents the chance for everyone to have an equal opportunity and for everyone to contribute to the common good.

Mrs. Obama emphasized what’s at stake in the 2012 election: A choice between two very different visions of what America is and can be. Contrasting visions of who we are and who we want to be as a country.

Like President and Mrs. Obama, I want our country to be a place where everyone can get a good education, a fulfilling job and affordable healthcare. I want our country to be a place where people are free to love who they love. A place where we’re all in this together.

Michelle Obama even shared a glimpse into her husband’s private side. How he tells her the stories he hears every day, about everyday Americans. Those stories, she said, are what keep him going.

She may be the First Lady, but Michelle Obama told us she’s in this as a citizen who knows we can work together to make this country better. That’s the kind of citizen I want to be, too.

I still hope someday I can shake Michelle Obama’s hand — and perhaps even the President’s — and say how much admiration and gratitude I have for them. Until then, I’m inspired by knowing I have something in common with our President and First Lady: I am a citizen whose efforts can make a difference to our country’s future.

Yes, Mrs. Obama, I’m in.

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