lessons from America

As Ohio goes, so goes the nation

That is a traditional election-time phrase, and one I heard Obama say to cheering crowds on Sunday in the rally at the University of Cincinnati.  And it has proved so true this time.  I spent the last 4 days before the election in Cincinatti and its environs – Hamilton County.  That was ground zero in Ohio. It had gone Republican the last few elections.  This was not the Democrat-leaning city of Cleveland and to a lesser extent Columbus.  I felt that when out on the streets and in the suburbs where the majority of people live.  It was very close, with an even number of McCain and Obama yard signs.  But the ground game, the get-out-the-vote efforts the past few days, and the work of party workers and countless volunteers over the past months has helped make a real difference. 

On election day, Cincinnati voted for Obama. And Ohio District 1 ditched its Republican congressman for Democrat Steve Driehaus.  CNN’s John King highlighted these victories as the key to Ohio turning blue.  It makes me proud to know that I was even a tiny little part of that winning effort.


November 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Halloween with the Clintons

So Halloween has been a hoot.  As I roll into bed at 5am, I quickly reflect on what has been a crazy busy day.  Hillary’s been in town, so we went to her rally.  It was a relatively small affair, with only a few hundred people.  Before that it was an Issue 8 debate (the ballot intitative on electoral reform) at Cincinnati University.  That got ugly, nasty and negative – or rather that was the no campaign taking it to that level in a mean-spirited pitch.  And before all that kicked off, it was to the local Halloween costume store to goggle and to pick an outfit for the night’s activities.  There was barely enough time after the Hillary rally to change into that costume then it was out to do Trick or Vote.  An absolutely brilliant concept … and so much fun.  And finally it was a case of hitting the bars and dancefloor to top off a true American Halloweeen experience.

Some little teasers of the photos from today.  More will go up later.

And some sad news to end this little bulletin.  Studs Terkel, one of my heroes alongside the great Woody Guthrie, has died.  He was a great chroniclor of 20th century America as seen through the eyes, words and stories of working people and those struggling to survive.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | On the Campaign Trail | , , , | 1 Comment

Oh me, Oh my, Ohio

It’s Thursday evening so I must be in …. Ohio.  Just flown into Cincinnati airport.  For the pedants amongst you, the airport is actually just across the river, in Kentucky, so actually I haven’t yet set foot in the state of Ohio.  But I will very shortly. I am making use of the free wifi – that’s a first in a US airport, certainly that I’ve experienced.  And Meghan has just arrived, video camera in hand.  And so it starts: that added dimension to my trip of fliming, as well as a welcome and fun travelling companion and fellow political animal. 

Incidentally, I don’t know whether its my Obama buttons, my British passport, something on my immigration file (my days as a G8 summit protestor are behind me, honest guv) or the fact I booked my flight in the UK, but each of the two Northwestern flights I’ve flown have included a little excursion beforehand at the security point to have my bags and myself additionally checked.  They’ve been swabbing all my electrical equipment and testing it (for chemical residues of explosives perhaps).  They’ve also given me some lovely pat downs.  Thankfully no strip searches yet.  And I can’t really complain: it’s only a minor inconvenience.  And I’ve had friends much worse treated when flying into Israel.  

While I recover from my flight and Meghan from her long drive from Pennsylvania here, a ‘ballot measure 8’ meet up is happening on the other side of Cincinnati.  A chance I believe for students and first time voters to find out more about the electoral reform ballot initiative here in the city.  My colleague Lewis has just flown in from London and is fighting back jetlag to be there, so I should get a report of that later.  It’s all going on actually tonight, as Swing Semester Cincinnati (the same cooll outfit that I spent time with in Denver) are hosting a film night later.  They are going to be watching a special documentary on the Florida recount fiasco of 2000.  Very apposite to Ohio’s own ballot problems of 2004.  Hopefully they won’t encounter more of the same this time, but I guess it pays to be prepared.  Moreover, it is a great way to fire up activists, should they be flagging in these final days of the campaign. 

So expect more from both the ballot initiative and Swing Semester in the coming days, as I get stuck in to both.  Though tomorrow morning I have a more prosaic challenge: trying to find any kind of costume for Halloween and the ‘Trick or Vote’ fun in the evening.

October 31, 2008 Posted by | On the Campaign Trail | , , , , | Leave a comment