Posts Tagged ‘Obama for America’

Looking forward

The more deeply you’re immersed in an experience, I’ve learned, the more reflection it warrants once it’s over. But the thing about my experience with the Obama 2012 campaign is this: It doesn’t really feel over. In fact, it feels like it’s just the beginning.

Because it’s time to look forward.

Looking forward

I’m proud of the work I did on the campaign for more than a year, as a volunteer leader in the field and as Michigan Deputy Digital Director. As gratifying as my personal experience was, though, what I witnessed in the process was even more important. It’s the dedication of others that humbles me — and demonstrates just how much impact the power of the people had on the election’s outcome.

There was Dawn, who is legally blind yet went out knocking on doors in downtown Detroit with any partner she could find, to help get out the vote for the President.

There was Ken, a retired Marine who found a new mission: re-electing the President. His first time volunteering he signed up for six phone bank shifts. When I saw him again 10 days later, he was at 12 shifts and counting.

There was Brian, a new veteran who served half his time in the Navy keeping his personal life a secret until the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He signed up to serve in honor of President Obama even before the repeal, and went on to play a major volunteer role during the 2012 campaign.

Looking forward ObamaThere was Rita, who became a member of my own diligent, dedicated neighborhood team. We met her while out canvassing one day, and she eagerly signed up to volunteer. She didn’t miss a week for the next five months.

These are only a handful of the literally hundreds of stories I heard during the campaign, many of which I had the privilege of telling on the Obama for America-Michigan blog. Reasons why people were supporting President Obama with their vote and their volunteerism.

It was the power of community, made more tangible to me with every person I met. It was the power of grassroots organizing, of one or two people igniting a spark that can spread across a city, a community or a country.

Community organizing is how President Obama first exercised his commitment to civics and leadership. I’m proud it’s the same way I first exercised mine, in service of the man who inspired me to be the change.

I’ve always believed one person can make a difference — and I still do. But I see more than ever how the power of individuals is amplified when they come together for a common goal.

This is what moves us forward. It doesn’t matter what party we affiliate with or even if we don’t align with one. It doesn’t matter where we come from or how much money we make or what our spiritual beliefs may be.

What matters is that we are connected by our shared humanity. We are connected by being citizens and aspiring citizens of this great country — citizens of the world, in fact.

Looking forward

Yes, our country has work to do. Our leaders have work to do — and they have to do it together, putting country before party and making changes that benefit all Americans.

But each of us has a responsibility, too, no matter who we voted for. To put petty partisanship aside and find the common ground we all know exists if we take the time to look for it. To work together, not against each other, for a common good that allows individuals to excel but leaves no one behind.

If we want our leaders to change, to put people before politics, we have to do the same from the grassroots level on up.

We have to be the change. I’ve seen that we can do it. And we can do it again. Together.

What’s next? Here are two ways I’m getting involved, for starters. Both movements emphasize community organizing, where individual citizens can make a difference:

No Labels, a group of Democrats, Republicans and independents united in the politics of problem-solving.

The Action, an initiative to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and level the playing field.

 

 

Relationships built to last

There’s more than one kind of relationship. And there’s more than one way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

This year, I spent a couple hours of my Valentine’s Day at the Obama for America Oakland County, Mich., HQ in Pontiac, where I got to know a great group of OFA team members, volunteers and supporters.

It was an all-day open house, where anyone could stop in for a one-on-one conversation with an OFA organizer to learn more about getting involved. Dozens of people came by to get to know OFA — and every one of them left feeling fired up and ready to go.

Relationships built to last

It seemed like a lot of the folks there were already eager to get involved because they jumped right in. People signed up to host house parties. They made phone calls to other supporters right then and there. They signed up to join neighborhood teams or volunteer for various tasks. There’s truly a volunteer opportunity for everyone.

I love being at events like these, because there’s a buzz of energy that is unmistakable. It’s the power of positive thinking, of believing in the reason you’re there and what you’re there to do. Everyone who was there today is committed to President Obama’s re-election campaign, because they see he’s already leading our country in the right direction and want to give him four more years to keep working for the good of every American.

Relationships built to lastWhat’s even cooler? The fact that long after the one-on-one sessions were done, assignments were made and people were signed up to help, they stuck around. Because they just wanted to chat. They wanted to talk about President Obama’s accomplishments and their reasons for getting involved. They wanted to share their pride in our President and their faith in his leadership.

With energy and enthusiasm like that, there’s nothing this team can’t do.

We’re fired up and ready to go. And ready to win.

 

 

For, not against

I’ve always thought it’s better to say what you stand for instead of what you’re against. But it isn’t always easy to do.

As I wrote recently, I think communicating the strengths of your own merits beats beating up the other guy. Not just in writing but in life: It’s more powerful to say what you believe in instead of arguing against what you don’t.

But yesterday I was feeling a little raw. People were annoying me in general, and some political commentary I heard was the last straw. What was said doesn’t matter, but I was feeling angry at “the other side” for trying to put a negative spin on the President’s efforts to create jobs.

This was my frame of mind as I went to my first night of making phone calls as a volunteer for Organizing for America, doing my part to help President Obama’s re-election campaign. I vented for a minute to my fellow volunteers who were, well, understandably understanding. Then we all got to work. I spoke with supporters of the President and the positive energy quickly erased my mood.

For, not against

But what really helped me reframe how I’d been thinking was a conversation with Melissa Bernardi, who is my county’s regional field director for Organizing for America–Michigan. I told her how good it felt to be talking with others who believe in the President, taking positive action instead of arguing with the folks who had frustrated me earlier.

Maybe she read my mind a little bit or (more likely) she just knows how these things work. But our subsequent conversation reminded me that no matter how great the temptation to lash out at those we oppose, it’s much more productive to just keep saying what we believe in and why. To share the facts about why we support the President — and, perhaps even more important, to let our genuine enthusiasm for what we’re doing shine through.

It’s very possible that what had me so frustrated with the President’s opponents was their negativity. It just wore me down. But my evening of volunteering reinforced the power of the President’s optimism. As Melissa has rightly said before, every volunteer is essentially speaking on behalf of the President, helping to get his message out while he’s busy doing his job.

President Obama’s persistent hope, even in the face of daily negative energy from every corner, is reassuring. It sets an example that if he can remain an optimist — while still telling the truth about his opponents, albeit with great civility — I have no excuse for turning negative.

I won’t stop speaking my mind and speaking the truth. But I’ll remember that a positive attitude, combined with positive action, will get much more done than pessimism ever could.

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