Friday, February 15, 2008

James Forman's appeal for volunteers

Forwarding an email appeal for volunteers from James Forman:
If you only read one of my emails this month, make it this one . . . .  And feel free to forward.

Press coverage is dominated by elite stuff, who are the big endorsers, etc.  But 2 articles in today's Washington Post (links below) make plain how critical grass-roots organizing has been to this campaign.  Obama won every precinct in DC (including 62% of the vote in Ward 3) without having a single paid staffer working DC.  DC for Obama, for example, has no paid staff, it is a now 4,000 person strong volunteer operation (to get on the list email  Howard University students turned out in massive numbers to hit the streets Tuesday, and hundreds of you fanned out in N. Virginia and Silver Spring and PG and throughout the region.  Everywhere you went the door-knockers were Obama folks; Hillary people were virtually invisible.  This grassroots effort is a large part of why Obama's victory margins were so much larger than the polls predicted--28% in Virginia!

The work is also very rewarding.  Over the weekend I was knocking on doors handing out Obama lit at a housing project in Baltimore.  Not only were people excited about Obama, many were clearly moved that we were there.  One lady said to me, "thank you for coming.  Y'all are the first people ever knocking on my door to talk to me about a candidate.  Thanks for caring."  For people who have felt their votes don't matter, or that none of the candidates speak to their needs, or that they are just bystanders in the process, this approach to politics can be meaningful. 

Now we have to replicate this effort in Ohio and Texas (I'm focusing on Ohio in this e-mail, because it is closer and more feasible, but if folks want to go to Texas shoot me an email and I'll try to connect you).

3 things you can do to make Ohio happen.

First, join us in Ohio.   Many hundreds will come from the DC area alone to canvass.  The Gtown law group that many of you have joined in S.Carolina, Delaware and Baltimore is headed to Columbus.  Obama staff have asked us to go to Columbus, but if you have personal reasons for wanting to volunteer in another part of the state, let us know and we'll connect you.

We will be there from all or part of the following: Feb. 29-March 4 (some folks can only come for the weekend, that's cool).  As those of you who have joined us in the past know, flexibility is key here because the needs of the campaign change rapidly.  In SCarolina we did not get our final assignments till we were on the road driving to the state.   But it all worked out in the end!  Over time we will learn more about housing options (including getting a list of reduced rate hotels in the area), specific placement locations in the state, assignments, etc.  For now, we are just collecting a list of interested folks.  If you want to come, for now, please send Ben Rubinstein an email at  Please include as much of the following information as you have:

--name, cell, email, dates you want to be in OH,
--are you driving? do you have room for other passengers?  do you need a ride? 
--will you need a place to stay?  if so, would you prefer reduced rate hotel or, if available, free lodging (couches and floors) with obama supporters in OH?

Second, we need money to fund the trip.  DC for Obama is trying to rent buses, and we also need gas money for students who are willing to drive their cars but need help with gas. 

Third, forward this email or send a personal appeal to your friends as to why they should join us in Ohio.

Here are the Post articles on the importance of the grassroots work:

Love, James


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