During the week after the election, I attended a number of “victory parties” to celebrate our achievement. Mostly they were organized by people we had spent the previous three months campaigning with. Something about canvassing and phone banking and watch debates together really bonded us and we wanted to get together and have some fun that didn’t involve work! My wife and I had been community leaders in our area just outside of Ann Arbor so we were seen, I guess, as somehow “in the know” about the campaign so we were repeatedly asked “What’s next? Where do we go from here?”
Well…we weren’t sure. So we figured it out for ourselves.
I began an email conversation on the Saturday after the election with my Canvass Coordinator counterpart from the next city over, Jim. Both of us were still full of energy but were disappointed that the Voter Activation Network (VAN) database had suddenly gone down, eliminating our access to the vast list of names, addresses and emails of the many hard-working volunteers we had been organizing in our respective areas. He, like I, had managed to harvest some of this information and between the two of us and others in surrounding areas, we found ourselves with an email list of over 500 people from the area – people who had actually volunteered and done stuff.
We knew we had to keep things moving or we’d risk losing too much momentum and people would lose interest.
So we put out a quick email on Monday asking people to join us at the local pub for some discussion about the question “Where do we go from here?” expecting maybe six or seven folks would show up.
We got 20. We also got many other responses of people that couldn’t make but wanted to get involved.
The outcome of our get-together was that we decided that we certainly wanted to stay connected and fired up so that when the Obama campaign finally managed to re-engage with us, we’d be prepared. We also recommended that people (a) come to a coffee shop the next weekend to welcome our new Representative from MI-07, Mark Schauer and (b) attend the Washtenaw County Democratic Party Convention the following Saturday.
120 people showed up to support Rep. Schauer. With two days notice.
We knew then we were on to something.
A few of us attended the WCDP Convention but were somewhat disappointed to find that, unless you’re already connected, this was not a place for newcomers. They were so wrapped up in electing their new leadership that there was literally no talk whatsoever of how to engage the “New Dems” (as I call them), people who had become active in politics for the first time in their lives and were now energized to stay involved.
Jim finally found an opportunity to speak and gave an impressive and impassioned plea to these Dems to open their doors to these new people. The window of time for keeping these people interested and energized, he suggested, was fairly short and they needed to move quickly.
We were quickly encouraged to hand over our mailing lists by the leadership (something we’re frankly not ready to do just yet.) However, a number of others were more supportive and we hope to become more involved in the party and help transition these New Dems in with us. Not everybody in Michigan is particularly thrilled with the Democrats right now after they botched up our primary and many of us feel it’s time for a new infusion of ideas and energy.
I was very happy today to receive an email from David Plouffe of the Campaign for Change. It appears that they are now ready to move toward keeping people connected, involved and mobilized to help our new president accomplish his goals.
Here’s what the email said:
Please take a few minutes and help shape the future of this movement.
Share your campaign experience and your thoughts on the best way to keep supporting our agenda for change.
The inauguration is just 63 days away, and as President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden prepare to take office, they’ll need your support more than ever.
You’ve built an organization in your community and across the country that will continue to work for change — whether it’s by building grassroots support for legislation, backing state and local candidates, or sharing organizing techniques to effect change in your neighborhood.
Your hard work built this movement. Now it’s up to you to decide how we move forward.
Thanks to you, this country has an historic opportunity. Electing Barack was the first big step, but there’s a lot of challenging and important work ahead.
Together, we can keep making history,
Obama for America
You can go their website HERE to fill out a survey about your ideas and goals and I highly encourage everyone to do that.
I truly believe that politics as we know it is changing for the better thanks to the Obama Campaign for Change. It’s up to us, many of us “New Dems”, to step up. If we do, our country, and maybe even the world, will never be the same.
I’m just sayin’…