Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

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.

 

 

A new greatest generation?

My father has been on my mind a lot lately. He was part of the Greatest Generation, and deserves every bit of credit for what he and those of his era accomplished.

But I’ve also started wondering: Could we be on the brink of a new greatest generation? We are at a crossroads in America. What President Obama called a “make-or-break” time for the middle class.

In his speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, on December 6, the President spoke about the dream of America, which has always been that people who work hard and play by the rules can achieve anything they set their minds to. My father, Alvie L. Smith, embodied that vision. He went from selling boiled peanuts on street corners in Savannah as a boy to leading the global communications program for General Motors. In between, he worked hard and studied hard and applied every ounce of his energy to making something of himself — both as a source of pride and to take care of his family.

This is what President Obama wants to see our country be again. A place where every man and woman has the opportunity to achieve greatness if they work hard. A country where everyone does their fair share, gets a fair shake and plays fair. Where even an orphan left to fend for himself and his three brothers on the streets of Savannah can grow up to become a leader in his field, like my father did. (A world-class speechwriter, I’m pretty sure my father’s response to the President’s remarks in Kansas would have been: “That was a helluva speech.”)

A new greatest generation?

Sure, my father had some help here and there, but not much. He went to college on the GI Bill and scholarships, including one provided by (I kid you not) a childless tugboat captain and his wife who wanted to help a deserving young person. Most everything else my dad achieved he did through hard work and loyalty, and with great integrity.

My father was also on my mind as we observed the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He fought in World War II, and was a member of one of the only 30 percent of B-17 crews that actually returned from that war.

There’s a reason men and women like my father have been called the Greatest Generation. They grew up in the Depression (my mother had equally humble beginnings) and did what they had to do to survive. They believed in hard work and honesty, in being neighborly and helping those in need. They had faith in the American Dream and what it promised: the chance of a better life

I honestly think our country could be poised to create a new greatest generation, or at least a great one. There’s an opportunity to restore the principles that made our country great in the first place, a chance to reassess our collective values and remember that we have more in common than not. Americans have the chance to see our country become better than ever, by emerging from the dark times we’ve faced in recent years.

But some things will have to change. Right now, about one-third of children born in poverty will never rise to the level of the middle class. They don’t have a chance. They need to have that chance. I’m not talking about hand-outs. I’m talking about programs like the GI Bill or short-term assistance that can give people the boost they need to stand on their own. Affordable healthcare so people like a tugboat captain — who I imagine doesn’t make a lot of money — can still have something to share with a poor young man with big dreams.

Making sure everyone has enough means greater equality, greater cooperation and a greater sense of our country as a community that works together instead of against each other. A country where everyone does their fair share and everyone gets a fair shot. And, maybe most important of all, where everyone plays fair.

It was a vision that worked for our country during the time of the Greatest Generation and at many other times in our history. It’s a vision that can work for our future.

Women can do anything

It was a great gathering of women, a powerful reminder of how strong we are and how much we can do.

The Women for Obama initiative launched this week, and volunteers from Organizing for America (OFA) — the President’s grassroots team — met in Pontiac, Mich., to listen to a kick-off conference call with Michelle Obama. We made phone calls of our own, too, asking other women to take action and get involved.

The 20 women who gathered in Pontiac are already actively engaged in the 2012 campaign. Each one has a story about why she supports President Obama.

Betty, a retired public health nurse, is passionate about the preventive coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). She knows first-hand how much healthcare reform is needed. “The healthiest babies are the ones who are planned,” she said, “and whose mothers can take good care of themselves during their entire pregnancy.”

The environment is important to Pam, who believes in the President’s position on clean energy. “I want to give him a second term so he can work more on that,” she said.

Women can do anything

Glenda and Sylvia both admire the President and First Lady for their commitment to American families. They applaud Mrs. Obama’s leadership role in the Joining Forces and Let’s Move programs.

“My granddaughter’s school has put healthier food on the lunch menu and they do more exercise, so my granddaughter has lost weight and feels better about herself,” said Sylvia. “President and Mrs. Obama do so much to help the people of this country.”

That message was reinforced during the conference call, when a volunteer from Florida shared her story about why she got involved. “President Obama is a President of the people,” she said. “He’s fighting for us every day.”

Mrs. Obama thanked all the women listening in on the call for getting involved, reminding us that change happens one person at a time. She asked us to do whatever we can to help the President continue the work he’s doing and protect the progress he’s already made for women and their families.

Whether it’s working a phonebank, registering voters, hosting a house party to educate friends and family about the issues or just talking with people one-on-one, women have a vital role to play in the 2012 election. After all, we play a vital role in this country.

Mrs. Obama asked us to step up. Everyone who was in Pontiac for that call already has. But we’re women. We’ll step up even more. Because there’s no limit to what we can do.

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