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Member since: Sat Aug 7, 2004, 10:55 PM
Number of posts: 4,187

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I just got power back in NJ after 49 hours.

After 49 hours without power, we just got power back in our little house in central NJ.

For a little over two days, my husband and I had no lights, no internet, no refrigeration, no heat. It was suffocating; it was depressing; it was psychologically painful in a way that seemed irrational but was very real nonetheless.

When the lights came back on, I was ecstatic. A miracle had just taken place. My belief in humanity was restored. I wanted to go and thank in person the PSE&G people who worked overtime in the cold and dark so that I, along with the hundreds of people in my neighborhood, could have power and heat for a few hours tonight.

I know that we were relatively lucky. We didn't have trees fall on our house; we didn't get our basement flooded (mainly because we don't have a basement). But simply losing power for 49 hours makes you realize how vulnerable and dependent on your fellow humans you really are. People talk about small government in the abstract, but it's with a disaster like this that you realize at a visceral level why a strong government is necessary. I hope that people will see this and make the right decision next Tuesday.

You are not a telemarketer.

Some ignorant people may treat you like a telemarketer, but you have to remember that what you're doing is very different from telemarketing. Not only are you not getting paid for the calls you make, but you are participating in the political process, calling your fellow voters to have conversations about issues that matter to them. Anyone can refuse to buy a product a salesperson is trying to sell them, but no one can avoid the consequences of an election. This is why the calls we make are protected under the first amendment. There is no do-not-call list for political or charity calls.

I've been making calls for several weeks now. I'm like you: I get nervous, and I don't always make the case well to an undecided voter. It's always painful when someone is rude, but the occasional Obama supporter more than makes up for it. Even after a particularly bad session, I feel a sense of accomplishment because I went out there and did something that was uncomfortable for me, and I did it because it matters, because the President can't win this without our efforts.

In 2000, we lost the election by 537 votes. The calls you make can make the difference between a Romney presidency and a second Obama term. Be proud of what you're doing. I'm proud of what you're doing. Let's make sure the President wins this!

There is a huge amount you can do.

Go to dashboard.barackobama.com and find your neighborhood team. Then click "Events" to find out what activities are going on near you.

I live in NJ and have been making phone calls into PA as well as driving over to PA to knock on doors. It's extremely satisfying to be a part of this campaign. Sometimes people are rude, but other times I feel I may have put a seed of doubt in someone's mind, or gotten someone to think more deeply about the issues. And it's great to meet so many other people who care enough to volunteer their time for a cause they believe in.

There is a statistic out there: an undecided person who is contacted in person, by someone volunteering for a candidate, is significantly -- something like 10 times -- more likely to vote for that candidate. The Romney campaign is making robocalls, whereas the Obama campaign has volunteers making calls. That is a huge advantage we have over them.

If you don't want to make phone calls, you can do data entry; there is a need for that as well.

Everyone who is supporting Obama and has any time to spare should go out and volunteer. Honestly: instead of posting here, people should be making phone calls. You can make calls from anywhere in the country, either by joining phone banking activities in your neighborhood or making calls from your home using the Dashboard "make calls" tool. Please go out and do something. The calls you make may decide the outcome of the election.

It was Bucks County, near Bristol.

The upper-middle-class neighborhood I was referring to was in Levittown.

In Bristol, we're currently targeting undecided voters. What that means is that if someone is a strong Obama supporter, they get taken off the list and added to a GOTV list, which will be used as we get closer to the election. If someone is a strong Romney supporter, they get taken off the list so that we don't waste any more volunteer time on them. As a result, we get more and more undecided voters on the list. This still doesn't explain the amount of strong anti-Obama sentiment, though.

Last night, I called people near Washington Crossing and again got several very rude people.

1. One person demanded to know how I got her number. (I found out later that we get the lists from the county registrar. If you register to vote, you get on this list. There is no way to get off this list, except if the campaigns decide that you're not worth targeting. Most republicans don't seem to realize that phone banking and canvassing are inherently different from telemarketing and sales.)

2. One man said he had already donated to Obama. I said, "This is not about a donation." He interrupted me and said that he was in Paris on a honeymoon with his wife and it was the middle of the night. I apologized and hung up. Nonetheless: 1. the connection was much too clear to be a cell phone connection to Paris -- it was obviously a landline-to-landline connection, and the area code was definitely in PA; 2. the man did not sound as though he had been awakened in the middle of the night; and 3. if he lied about being in Paris, he probably also lied about donating to Obama.

3. One person was a Romney supporter. When we encounter a Romney supporter, we're supposed to thank them for their time and hang up, since we're unlikely to convert them. This woman, however, demanded to know why I wasn't interested in her opinions. So I agreed to discuss the election with her. I tried to tell her that I'm supporting the President because I immigrated to this country and don't want the U.S. to become like my country of origin, where if you're born poor, you stay poor, and if you're born rich, you stay rich. Before I could finish, she interrupted me and told me that her parents immigrated to this country and worked hard and she was able to get an education. I tried to explain that I also got an education and was able to reach a level of success and comfort that would not have been possible in my country of origin given my family's social status, but she interrupted me immediately and yelled, "I PAID FOR YOUR EDUCATION!" ... repeatedly. She said she paid for her education all by herself, with no government help. I asked her if she didn't benefit from roads and bridges and police protection. She claimed she did not. I wish it had occurred to me to point out that I probably pay more taxes than she does. In any case, we're not supposed to argue. I let her rant for a few minutes and then wished her a pleasant evening.

4. One person was a Romney supporter pretending to be undecided. So we discussed the election. At one point, she asked me what I do for a living. I told her that I work in IT. (She probably thought I must be unemployed or on welfare if I support Obama.) She told me about how she's voting for Romney because she's concerned about the deficit and that the government is effectively refusing to pay its credit card bill. I tried to explain to her that according to economists the deficit is inherently different from a person's credit card debt, since the government can stimulate the economy by paying for large projects such as bridges and railroads, which then create opportunities for individuals to start businesses around those projects, such that more people earn money and pay taxes, thereby lowering the deficit. Before I could get a tenth of the way through this simple explanation, she cut me off and said she had to go. She clearly didn't want to hear something that would challenge her beliefs.

I have to say, making these calls is getting really depressing. The other volunteers at the phone bank were also struggling, and at least one of them said she wasn't sure she would come back. I will continue to volunteer because it takes my mind off my work and gives me a weird sense of satisfaction, but it's sad that there are such hateful and clueless people out there.

I've been canvassing in PA and it's far from obvious we'll win this.

There is a lot of hatred out there.

I spent Saturday and Sunday afternoon going door to door in two different neighborhoods in PA: both white middle-class neighborhoods, one slightly higher-income than the other. The lower-income neighborhood wasn't so bad, but the higher-income one was hopelessly depressing. Here are some of the things I experienced:

1. The person on my list answers the door. I explain that I am a volunteer with the Obama campaign and ask her whom she is planning to support in the presidential election. She says "I'm not interested." At this point, I'm tempted to say, "Wow, if I were you, I'd be ashamed to admit that I'm not interested in the future of my country." Instead, I smile and say, "Have a nice day" and check the "Refused" box on my sheet.

2. Someone comes to the door. I ask for, say, Joan. The person who answered, who may be Joan's father, husband, or son, asks what this is about. I explain that I'm a volunteer with the Obama campaign and want to discuss the upcoming election with him. The answer I get is "That won't be necessary." If the person isn't rude, I get a "Have a nice day"; otherwise the door slams in my face. I'm not sure what to mark on my sheet, given that I never got to speak with Joan.

3. A dog comes barking to the door, followed by a woman. Before I have a chance to explain who I am and why I'm there, the woman says "The baby's asleep; I can't have the dog barking; good bye." This is said with such contempt that I am left speechless.

4. A man comes to the door. I ask for, say, Josh. The main asks what this is about. I explain that I'm a volunteer with the president's grassroots reelection campaign. The man says, "What president?" I answer, "President Obama". He says, "We are definitely not voting for that man" and walks back into his house.

I knocked on 38 doors yesterday afternoon, and found Obama supporters at only two of them. PA is a very important state; I don't think anyone thinks we can win this election without PA. I really wish more people would volunteer.

Something strange I forgot to mention

Every now and then, a man would answer, and when I asked for the woman whose name was on my list, would ask me why I was calling. I would explain that I was a volunteer with President Obama's grassroots campaign and wanted to speak with her about the upcoming election. The man would then say something like "That won't be necessary" or inform me immediately that the woman was not interested and hang up.

I just found that really arrogant. I can't imagine too many women answering for their husbands or fathers in that way. For that matter, I can't imagine too many liberal men answering that way.

An Update

I volunteered again last night, this time to call women in low-income neighborhoods of PA. The women were randomly picked, not necessarily supporters of the President. It was depressing. Only a tiny minority were Democrats. Time and again, I got insulted and hung up on. The level of hatred against the President among some of the people out there is incredible. Over and over, I was told, "We are definitely not voting for that man," meaning the President. (Interestingly, not a single person said they supported Romney. It was always that they were against President Obama.) Worse yet, I was surrounded by a group of really sweet women also getting hung up on in the same way.

I hope my posts don't appear to be self-congratulatory. I really appreciate all the encouragement, but at some level I am being very selfish, in that I probably wouldn't volunteer if it weren't for the great feeling I get afterwards: the feeling of possibly making a difference, of taking part in something potentially historic. The reason I'm posting this is that I think it's really important that everyone who supports the president, is physically fit, and has a few hours to spare, get out there, make phone calls, knock on doors, enter data, or sit at a table to register voters. It is far from clear that we will win this. Even with all the mistakes Romney is making, there is a lot of hatred out there directed at the President. People who have suffered as a result of the economic downturn express their frustration in the form of hatred against Obama, and their hatred is probably at least partly racist. This election, given the economy, would be hard enough to win even in the absence of such hatred. Everyone, please get out there and do something.

I volunteered for the first time yesterday.

I volunteered for the first time yesterday for the Obama re-election campaign. I made two pages of phone calls (I forget the exact number). I'm a shy person and was at first terrified by the thought of calling a complete stranger. We were calling people known to be Obama supporters and asking them to volunteer for the campaign, so it shouldn't have been so scary. Nonetheless, it was difficult to bring myself to push the call button each time, and I admit I didn't do a great job. (I spoke too quickly and didn't sound natural.) But I had the most amazing feeling of accomplishment afterwards. I haven't done anything this fulfilling in a long time.

I urge all the Obama supporters here who haven't yet done so to give it a try. Go to
and enter your name, address, and e-mail address to find your neighboorhood team and sign up for nearby events.

I regret having waited this long to get involved. I'm looking forward to making more phone calls and door-to-door canvassing in the coming weeks.
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