lessons from America

The view from Pennyslvania

No, Meghan can’t see Russia, or even Canada, from her window.  But she’s on the ground in Pennsylvania – in Steelton and elsewhere – blogging about the sights and sounds of the election campaign’s final days there.  And, video camera always at the ready, she is talking to the people that she meets on the streets nd in restaurants and capturing their thoughts on the election.  Definitely worth taking a few minutes to look at her site and prodigious output these past few days.


October 27, 2008 Posted by | On the Campaign Trail | 1 Comment

Preparing for an Obama rally

This is no ordinary election campaign, that is for certain.  In case I needed any reminders about this, I’ve experienced it first hand these past 36 hours.  And it is the level and intensity of support for Obama that I am talking about.  Today another record fell: that of largest campaign rally.  100,000 people (including me) turned up in and around Denver Civic Park to hear Obama speak.  But just as symbolic and humbling was the fact that over 800 people turned up on a Saturday evening to sign up as volunteers for the rally and take part in a 90min training and briefing session. 

I’d heard from Amalie about the opportunity to become an event volunteer and decided to join her and a couple of other swing semester folk in attendiing the session.  Everyone was taken aback, impressed and inspired by the size and diversity of people who come to be volunteers.   


There were various pep talks, putting our efforts in the context of the wider race(s) to be won, and also information on early voting and other related advice that we were meant to pass on to others at the rally.   We were then split off into two – one half who would be doing the staffing inside the venue and at the entrance; the other half (which I was in) would be encouraging people to sign up for volunteering over the final week of the campaign and also to early vote.  We were then split off into small teams of 20-30 people, each of whom were headed by a ‘precinct captain’, an Obama staffer.  My team leader was called John Manners and he was the guy who would we would find on the Sunday morning to give us our final instructions and the sign-up forms to hand out.


October 27, 2008 Posted by | On the Campaign Trail | , , , | Leave a comment

On the bus

I wasted no time in getting stuck into campaigning.  On Saturday morning I accompanied Amalie and Julia, the organisers of Swing Semester, to Boulder, to join in New Era Colorado’s famous ‘bus project’ – a group of young people going out canvassing, travelling to a targeted area in an old-style bus.

There were about twenty-odd of us in total, mainly 18-30 year olds and a couple of older folk as well. 



On the bus we got a short briefing about the politics of the area we were going to (Longmount) and the state of the races there.

Then, the clipboards and papers were handed out, for us to familiarise ourselves with how to fill out the canvass sheets, read the literature we were handing out and other briefing documents.

When we got to our destination, there were further briefings; include this reminder (complete with singing accompaniment to lighten the mood) of how to behave and get the most out of canvassing

And so work….  My patch was within a wealthy neighbourhood, some streets if which backed onto a gold course.  Not the most fertile canvassing territory.  There were more houses which had the McCain yard signs than the Obama ones.


I did 2.5 hours of walking the streets, trying to find the right houses, delivering literature, knocking on doors, sometimes finding someone in and on occasion even willing to have a conversation with on the elections.  I think my final figures were 29 houses visited and 11 ‘contacts’ (actual communication).  Then  it was back to the bus for the journey back to Boulder … and plates of sushi at a local restaurant.

October 27, 2008 Posted by | On the Campaign Trail | , , , , , | 2 Comments