Saturday, November 1, 2008

Columbus, OH: A Short Update


I just wanted to post a brief update re: the contents and whereabouts of my trip. I have been working with about fifty union members and staff people from Change to Win out of the SEIU 1199WOK office in Columbus, Ohio. Up until Friday, my group had been focused on "red team" work - or member to member mobilization in the form of registering CtW union workers, signing up folks for COPE, and pushing turn out for early voting (Ohio is among the states that offers an early voting option). Though I got here this week many of my colleagues have been in Ohio working since August.

Yesterday morning we rolled out "orange team" GOTV in conjunction with the other Obama GOTV work in Franklin County coordinated by the Obama Headquarters my important friends. Our team has been assigned to 83 voter precincts in Obama "base" areas (working class neighborhoods). We will have knocked on over 70,000 doors in five days. It has been exhausting thus far. We spend nine hours a day canvassing our assigned turfs in teams of two.

I feel lucky to have to opportunity to witness a piece of America that I wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. Canvassing in low income communities of mostly white and African Americans has really shone a spotlight on the dire economic condition of our country. We passed dozens of foreclosed houses, knocked on abandoned properties of whom their former occupants will likely not have the ability to vote at all. I am also surprised (you can't imagine how my Marxist heart fluttered!) at how ubiquitously poor white people identify with their class interests and whole heartedly support Obama. I had unfairly assumed that racism would put them with McCain but I truly on ran into one person so far that has expressed that sentiment.

In the excitement of the election and the non-stop work we have been doing it has been easy for me to put aside my ideological objections to our electoral system/the Democratic Party/Obama himself etc. Working with union members (many from 1199 out of NYC - energy that I totally miss living on the west coast) has helped to temper this for me. Though Heather and I did go by Headquarters today to visit Talia and I couldn't help but feel exciting about HISTORY standing in the bustling office with a million volunteers on the move and getting out the vote. I am a sucker for the spirit of a campaign!

Man, I have quite a few more reflections on the experience but I am out of time! Stay tuned and don't forget to vote!


erin story geld said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
erin story geld said...

great post! hoorah for door-knocking -- i felt similarly in nevada.
missing you here for returns, but i guess you couldn't be anywhere better :)

Heather said...

A meaningful, insightful analysis...although you left out the part where you were attacked by a meth addict and followed by a crackhead who kept saying Ocain!!!!!