Monday, November 03, 2008

Drumming Up Votes

Obama GOTV volunteers at Reid Park

I think I blew my chance to have two more pieces published by Huffington Post. The deadline was Sunday at 9 PM EST. The Obama Get Out the Vote picnic I photographed also ended at 9 PM EST, 7 PM local time. I left a little early, and was at home editing photos when the deadline passed. When I emailed the photo essay five hours later, other people's entries had already been posted, and the intrepid HuffPo editor had announced that she was going home to bed. Can't blame her, at two in the morning, assuming she's an East Coast person. Few people are as ridiculously nocturnal as I am. Event is she was on the West Coast, 11 PM or so is a heck of a time to be heading home from work.

Nevertheless, I cobbled together my text-based submission from some recent postings here and on Outpost Tucson, plus a comment of mine to John Scalzi's excellent Obama endorsement on Whatever. I probably had it emailed within half an hour of the photo entry.

Will either be posted? They haven't been so far, but it's still early morning Back East. It could still happen. So I won't cannibalize either of those entries tonight. The photos here are my

This ramada was for the pot luck.
The other one was for making phone calls.

The thing I went to today was called "Phone Calling & Picnic in the Park for Barack!" The idea was to make "GOTV" (Get Out The Vote) phone calls, followed by a pot luck picnic and some drumming and chanting. No, really. It sounded much more interesting to photograph and write about than a bunch of people making phone calls at Pima County Democratic Headquarters, so off I went. The event was held at Reid Park, just a few hundred hards from the dog park. I considered bringing the dogs along, but decided against it, and gave them a brief, separate trip to Miko's corner. Three other dogs attended the pot luck with their owners.

Paricipants were asked to bring a cell phone, a "dish to share," and one's own utensils. Three people brought Popeye's Chicken, and I was one of them. I also brought the leftover Halloween candy.

Aside from dropping off the food at the other ramada, the first order of business was the serious one, to call potential voters. The idea was to remind them to vote on Tuesday if they hadn't already done so, to make sure they knew where their polling place was, and to ask them to vote for Congressman Raul Grijalva as well as Obama. (Fair enough; all the precincts we called were in Grijalva's district. And frankly, as far as I can tell, my own Congress member, Gabrielle Giffords, hasn't worked a tenth as hard for Obama as Grijalva has. On the other hand, Giffords has a much tougher race, competing against Tim Bee, the current President of the Arizona State Senate. Grijalva is up against Joe Sweeney, described in the local press as a racist and a "looney" who is getting no support from the GOP.)

Did I finally overcome my fear of calling strangers on the phone, despite my old Emmett Kelly trauma, and make phone calls for Obama? Yes I did. Not a zillion of them, mind you, but maybe 15 or 20. Mostly it meant leaving a message, which was easy. The only live people I spoke with were two who didn't speak much English, and a woman with three recent foot surgeries who was concerned she wouldn't be able to stand up long enough to vote. One of the potluck organizers vowed to help her out.

The drum circle begins to gather.

In an hour or so all the calls had been made. I took a few pictures, and headed over to the food ramada with everyone else. Soon people started to gather in a drum circle, and to chant Obama's name. I have no knowledge of the cultural basis for all that, but it sounded good.

Eventually the drum circle included a saxophone and a mandolin.

I hear that there at 60 volunteers already set up at the Pima Country HQ to give rides to the polls, with phone callers and door-to-door canvassers on standby in case they're needed. I'll probably stop by on Monday and/or Tuesday, but it sounds as though the numbers of Tucsonans doing volunteer stuff for Obama this week is phenomenal. Unless new badge parts arrive, I'm probably not going to do anything more over the next 36 hours but vote, and watch what's going on locally and nationally, and maybe do a little more writing and picture taking. The idea of calling strangers still makes me nervous, and it looks as though my fellow Tucsonans have it covered.

But I still feel guilty. You'd better win, Barack Obama! I don't want to feel I'm the one in that viral ad!


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