Saturday, November 01, 2008

Phoning for Senator O

Earlier today I decided to take a step I hadn't in many years, and contribute more than money and unwanted thoughts to a political campaign, so I volunteered to go to a MoveOn-sponsored phone party for Barack Obama. Here's an excerpt of my prosaic email to two friends in New England about the experience:

Today I went to a phone banking party for Obama. It was at the home of a middle-aged couple living in West Rogers Park, perhaps 15 blocks from my spot in Chicago. The middle-aged couple who hosted the event were quite friendly, and the wife is a lawyer who is planning to monitor a polling place in Indianopolis on Tuesday. When I got there at 4 pm, only a few people were present, but slowly others started showing, and by the time I left, several waves of people had shown up. We were tasked with calling people in Virginia who'd somehow turned up on's lists. My pages of lists were all to voters in Newport News, Virginia, which as you both know is a predominantly African-American city. I was really nervous at first--I'm not a phone person, and am pretty shy--but once I got going it was a lot of fun. Many of the people I called were not home, and we weren't supposed to leave messages, but I hate calling people and hanging up, so I did give them the Obama campaign's info, address and number in Newport News, and soon learned that others were doing so as well.

What really heartened me was the number of people I spoke to who had already voted, were already working for Obama or on voting issues generally, were urging family and friends to vote, or were eager to go knock on doors tomorrow and on Sunday. Some of these people were elderly, I could tell, but they were so excited. I spoke to one woman who sounded like she was probably in her 40s or 50s. She said she had only just got back from burying her father in Florida, had returned to school and had Saturday classes, but really wanted to help out and said that she would take time out at 5 pm tomorrow to go get material and do what she could.

Also, the phone bankers came from all different backgrounds. One woman brought her daughter. There were two older South Asian women who arrived when I was nearly finished. It was really cool to see the diversity and enthusiasm of people there, and I may make calls this weekend if I can fit it into my schedule.

Now, 4 more days to go, and let's send positive thoughts towards Pennsylvania!

At the Obama phone bank
The scene at the event
At the Obama phone bank
Signing up
Me filling out the phonebanking form
The phone banking form

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