This past weekend, Organizing for America (OFA) groups across the country held training sessions for folks interested in getting/remaining involved as we head into the new year. After a debilitating mid-term election, many folks have argued that Democrats are demoralized, unenthused and disinterested in being involved and active.
This is hardly the case.
In Michigan alone, we had four of these events on Saturday. The event I attended and helped to run was in Brighton where we had 90+ signed up and around 50 who actually attended. Sign-ups at the event in southeastern Michigan had to be cut-off at 150 and we had over hundred sign-ups at similar events in Oakland country and Flint.
At our event, we opened by giving an overview of what OFA is, what we’ve accomplished so far and where we are headed in 2011.
We then got into discussions about how to tell our personal stories as a way of personalizing the issues we’re working on with a specific emphasis on ensuring that the gains we made getting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are not reversed by the incoming Republican members of Congress.
Regional Field Director Jody Money gave a great overview of our approach to the ACA and how the Republicans are giving us an excellent opportunity to remind Americans why this new law is good for our country. Despite the rhetoric coming out of the GOP, this law is popular, particularly when you look at individual components of it and people learn what is in it for them. Not only that, it reduces the deficit, something the Republicans claim to care about despite their actual actions.
We also talked about how we can be more effective at building our organization and we brainstormed ideas about how to bring in more volunteers as we strengthen our group in preparation for the 2012 presidential election.
One thing we heard over and over again is that Democrats are still eager to continue the gains we made in the first half of President Obama’s term and are as excited as ever to help the President accomplish his goals. And, though folks are uniformly upset that the GOP was successful at obtaining tax breaks for their wealthy benefactors, they are still thrilled at how much has been accomplished in two short years. In fact, the ability to find compromises in the lame duck session proves that we may still be able to achieve significant gains in the next two years.
The event was given good reviews by the attendees. Marsha, a new OFA volunteer from the Lansing area, had this to say:
I thought it was worthwhile and motivating. A tremendous amount of heartfelt and thoughtful wisdom. Quite worth a whole Saturday. It was well-organized and a good way to start off the new year, talking about why we’re inspired and the variety of roads traveled to get there.
It’s remarkable that we have all come to the conclusion that we need to message better. It was right on the money to make messaging a part of this training. I could just hear and feel the passion about it.
Those who believe that Democrats are down for the count should reconsider that notion. Based on the enthusiastic turnout at our four Michigan events, Democratic activists are still fired up and, if anything, more energized to support our progress than ever before. It has been a pleasant surprise for me and should motivate all of us to keep working hard and pushing for our agenda.
I’m just sayin’…