lessons from America

Halloween weekend

Photos are coming shortly.  But in the meantime, a quick update my weekend; which was slightly more calmly paced after the mad Friday dashing around Cincinnati, doing different activities: an electoral reform (issue 8 on the local ballot) debate at the University; a Hillary rally with the labour unions; and Trick or Vote with the Swing Semester crew, followed by some after parties and dancing.

Saturday afternoon was our Kentucky road trip.  Together with an electoral reform colleague (and with Meghan as driver), we zipped an hour south west of Cincinnati – through northern Kentucky – to see how the election was playing in a non swing state.  Much more quietly is the quick answer.  We went through some small towns and rural areas; and a couple of interesting encounters along the route.  How normal is it to knock on someone’s door in a little backwater and congratulate them on their Obama signs and start up a conversation that way?  Well, I did it!

Saturday evening was another night on the town.  Meghan and I had got chatting to a really cool local couple – Jodie and Randy – on Friday night and Jodie had offered to be our guide. Impressively, she knew where there was a bar which stayed open that extra hour for drinking, as the clocks went back for winter time here only on Sat night.  It was the quality of the conversation though that was the best part, and the insight into the life of a liberal, intellectual, questioning, social justice-minded person in a culture and an area which doesn’t really celebrate any of those. 

Jodie and Randy invited us for a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning, en route to a canvassing session in West Chester – about 20min drive north of the city – near to where they lived.  So Sunday daytime considered of eating lots of food, interspersed with time in the local Obama office there and 3 hours pounding the pavements of a well-to-do neighbourhood.  The houses weren’t just far apart; they had an infuriating number-system which made the canvassing harder.  Still, we spoke to a few undecideds; got an Obama supporter committing to volunteer on Monday or Tuesday; and generally provided campaign visibility in an area that wouldn’t normally see it. 

Sunday evening was Obama rally time.  Yup, twice in 8 days have I seen him.  This was an event in the university’s american football stadium, with maybe 20-25,000 people.  Obama was on fire – he was on a great form with his speech; better and more powerful than in Denver last week.  I loved his response to booing on the occasions he mentioned McCain’s name: Obama said: “Don’t boo; go out and vote”.  

An interesting contrast with Denver was that there seemed to be far fewer campaign volunteers there (proportionally).  Although there was some mention of early voting and encouraging attendees to help GOTV efforts at their local Obama office, it wasn’t as co-ordinated or pushy a message as in Denver.  And there certainly wasnt the focus on getting people to volunteer and not just be passive spectators and voters.  I did my bit, even talking to some Belgian students in the crowd asking them to volunteer. 

Now, after a chunk of blogging, it’s time to get a few hours kip before the final full day of the election campaign.


November 3, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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