Grassroots campaigning is like dating

January 2, 2009

Originally posted (10/22)…LONG POST (GRASSROOTS ORIENTED)…MYSTERIES OF MALE DATING BEHAVIOR REVEALED BELOW…You have to click the links to fully appreciate this posting (especially the “older people” one)

The Obama campaign is courting voters like a skillful man goes after the woman of his dreams.  Up today on Ben Smith’s blog at the Politico.com are some interesting stories about Obama’s integration of Calling, Canvassing, and emailing.  Back in Dec ’07 & Jan ’08, ten months ago, mainstream publications ran stories on the strength of Obama’s ground game (click links for articles):  Obama’s Ground Game Advantage, Inside Obama’s Iowa Ground Game, Obama’s and Huckabee’s Ground Game . Numerous other publications and bloggers have discussed the mechanical advantages of David Plouffe’s campaigning strategies.

A few months ago, I mentioned to a classmate that Obama is registering masses of voters in Virginia.  The naysayers scoff and say “new voters don’t vote…young voters don’t go to polls…they’re to lazy…”

Another groups of naysayers and pundits have asserted that the “Bradley Effect(the idea the white voters lie to pollsters about who they are supporting and will balk at pulling the lever for a black man when inside voting booth) will kick in on election day.  Turns out the pollster for the 1982 California Governors election said his polls were old. The winning candidates pollster said the election ended up how he predicted it in last minute polling. The Bradley Effect has been debunked here and here too. It doesn’t exist!

And finally there are people who say “Black people are only voting for Obama because he’s black.”  In 2004, Blacks went for Kerry 88%; In 2000, Blacks went for Gore by 90%.  Could it be that black people overwhelmingly vote Democrat?  Does the fact Obama is leading in some of the “whitests” states in America (ME, IA, VT, NH, MN, WI) and losing some of the “blackest” (MS, AL, LA, SC) mean anything?  A vote is a vote…bottomline

Back to my opening paragraph.  When a skillful guy really wants a girl he will call her; he will check in periodically to say “I’m thinking about you”; he will invite her to events she likes; he will ask her questions to get to know her better; he will have his friends and family say positive things about him as third-party endorsers; he will wear his best clothes in her presence; he will show he’s good dancer, brave & athletic; he will demonstrate his smarts; he will send her emails; he will impress her by name dropping his rich & powerful friends; he’ll show he cares by helping older people and inspiring younger people; he will demonstrate he’s a man of faith, and he will always say “baby it’s all about you“…most importantly he will repeat all of these actions until he closes the deal.  Meanwhile…the angry dude and his hatin’ friends will try to discredit the guy with scurrilous accusations, school-yard gossip, and name calling.  But the angry dude can’t get his message through because the skillful guy has sent an overwhelming amount of positive messages and has cultivated a relationship with the dream gal.  Sometimes, even in politics, nice guys finish first.

More stories on grassroots campaigning:  here, here, and here


A true “where were you when…” moment

June 4, 2008

January 28, 1986:  Space Shuttle Challenger crash (Sitting in front of the television; in sixth grade)

January 17, 1991:  Beginning of Operation Desert Storm (Sitting in 10th Grade English class watching Channel One and was penpals with a Soldier deployed to Saudi Arabia)

September 7, 1996:  Tupac Shakur shot in Las Vegas (Sitting at my BOQ watching MTV ***Breaking News*** with Kurt Loder)–BTW, I always believed Tupac is dead

February 10, 2007:  Barack Obama announces his candidacy for President of the United States of America (Sitting at home watching on C-SPAN then drove from Petersburg, VA to Hampton to attend the State of the Black Union)

June 3, 2008:  Barack Obama clinches Democratic Nomination (Standing in a room full Obama supporters in Washington, DC–listening, cheering, hi-fiving)

I wish I could express the internal elation I feel about Barack Obama winning the Democratic nomination for President.  Different than the other “where were you when” moments where I sat back and watched; this time, I actually was able to shape history.  Certainly my role was minor: a donation here, phone call there, knocking on a few doors, and consistentely wearing Obama gear despite the odd looks from classmates during the fall of 2007.  But I know my role was important because “the strength of the pack is not the wolf; the strength of the wolf is in the pack.”

From the outset, Senator Obama acknowledged that his campaign was not about him…instead it was about “us” (American voters).  “…in my heart I know you didn’t come here just for me, you came here because you believe in what this country can be.”

I was fortunate to see Barack Obama, twice in the summer of 2007 at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans and the National Urban League Conference in St. Louis.  One thing I noticed were Obama volunteers cheering, selling Obama gear, recycled gear, and signing up new supporters at each event.  The media totally missed the groundswell of grassroots for Obama.  (As I reflect, over the past 17 months no one has asked me to support their candidate for president…why?)

Great leaders provide purpose, direction, and motivation.  Despite the haters critics saying, “he’s too young;” “he’s too inexperienced;” “it’s not his turn.”  Senator Obama realized he had to seek the Presidency at this moment to bring about change: 

“I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness – a certain audacity – to this announcement. I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.”

Knowing the fight wouldn’t be easy, I knew the best thing I could do was join my candidate in the arena.  It’s too easy to second-guess, ridicule, doubt and follow conventional wisdom.  If one wants anything in life they must work for it.  I, too, wanted change in the culture of Washington.  Therefore, I got off the bench and got in the game guided by my favorite quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”President Theodore Roosevelt

If you are still reading…as you know, this blog is for my Social Media course and I leave you with a quote from Barack Obama’s announcement speech:  “Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age.”

Join me in the Arena.  Forty years from now, when your grandkids ask “where were you when” tell them you were Standing for Change.  Tell them you were Standing with Barack Obama.

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