SixFifty

lessons from America

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.

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October 31, 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