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Campaign Journal: Get Out The Vote

By Jerry Waxman

Sat. Oct 11.   Today is the next phase of Get Out The Vote. We have scheduled a meeting at 9:30 AM of all volunteers to kick off the campaign. Our organizer, Erin, makes the introductory speech on canvassing the neighborhoods and phone banking and then introduces several of us as the team captains. We each give short speeches on why we’re there and what this election means to us. The focus of today’s meeting is to enlist more volunteers as we canvass and call plus we are encouraging both early voting and absentee ballots. At 10:30 we assemble our teams and begin canvassing. We had 97 volunteers show up at the meeting, so we do have decent coverage. Canvassing is virtually the same in every neighborhood. There are some exceptions, as you occasionally encounter a rabid McCain supporter who will slam the door in your face. I had one today; actually, it was funny watching the veins pop out on their necks as they screamed “Get Out!”  They act like you’ve just poisoned their cat.

Sun. Oct 12.  Today I’m concentrating on assembling my permanent team. It’s tough because no matter how good their intentions are everyone has work hours, and many have kids in school and all the other stuff in their lives. I tell them that I too work for a living. In addition, I’m directing a touring show that opens Nov. 1 and we’re rehearsing four hours each evening and that this election is so important that I’m sacrificing any hint of personal time to get Obama elected and that I don’t understand people that aren’t that dedicated when so much is at stake. My lecture gets to a few of them, but the others have different priorities. At least everyone will contribute some time. Honestly, it’s been pretty easy on me since Susan is still in Baltimore and will not be home until Tuesday evening.

Mon. Oct 13.  More of the same. One canvassing shift, and some phone calls and then off to rehearsal. Word has come down that we are opening two satellite offices known as staging centers on the weekend.

Tues. Oct 14.  Today I was only able to make calls for two hours. I had to pick up Susan at the airport and off to rehearsal. 

Wed. Oct 15.  After a shift on the phones we went to a debate watch party at a volunteer’s house. I scheduled a music rehearsal so that I didn’t have to be there. My impression was that Obama’s debating style forced McCain to be his true self. To me this is the beginning of the end for McCain. It will play out like over the next few weeks as an operatic death scene with McCain/Palin writhing, falling, getting up again, falling….spitting venom…..rising again on the attack, and then finally collapsing in a grand aria of hate talk where they both jump on the funeral pyre as in Der Gotterdamerung………….or at least I hope so. McCain is strictly buying time with his attacks as a way of keeping himself in the news since he can’t match money or ads with Obama. Boy, what people won’t do to get attention!

Thurs. Oct 16. Two hours on the phones. I’m tired of these supporters who won’t contribute any time at all. At least they are convinced to vote early in most cases.

Fri. Oct 17.  Erin calls me in emergency mode at 6:00 PM. Our new staging center in Union park is without power. No one had bothered to check when we were given the building. There is no way the power company will be out here over the weekend. We need emergency lighting tonight so that the office can be open tomorrow morning. I told her I can’t get there until after rehearsal I arrive at 11:00 PM and by midnight the building has overhead lights working-no, I will not divulge how it was done. That’s my trade secret. Brad, Erin’s new second in command is there to let me in.  Brad has just come in from Los Angeles and needs to get the place set up. At least the office will be open tomorrow when we are having our big Veterans for Obama push.

Sat. Oct 18.  Today is Veterans for Obama day and we are graced with the presence of Phil Carter, Veterans Director for the campaign. I wore my Veterans T-shirt proudly, and took several buttons for friends and area residents who requested them. Phil and I were having a real discourse on the state of how The Republicans and, more specifically, McCain have been so shabby in their treatment of us.  We were joined by John Estrada has recently retired from the Air Force after twenty years. John is now working for a major defense contractor and on weekends he is travelling all over the country to promote Veterans for Obama. All generations of veterans from all branches were there from WWII to recent returnees. Those of us who could walk did so. The others manned the phones. Ron Kohn served in the Air Force during Korea. Vic and I served during the Vietnam era. We all had a common bond.

The prize for the regular volunteers was guaranteed seats at the Obama/Hillary event on Monday. If volunteers complete a walk pack today or if they make 250 calls today they will be given reserved seats. I had 109 knocks on doors. The actual contact rate is around 50 or 60 per cent in my areas. Phone contacts are around 10 to 15 per cent. I asked Erin if we could get my wife, Susan, a ticket. She said “walk another pack for me and I’ll give you another ticket”. She’s pretty rigid. Then she said…oh, by the way, we have a plumbing problem in the new office-could you look into it?”  My response was “go walk my pack for me and I’ll look into it after my rehearsal.”  We both laughed.  After rehearsal I tended to the plumbing problem. Also, landlord at Union Park arranged to have the electricity turned on.

Sun. Oct 19.  Okay, so I walked another pack. This time it was 80 Knocks, and boy, was it depressing. This particular neighborhood had sale signs and for rent signs galore. It also had bank forclosure notices on lots of houses. Today was the saddest day I’ve spent during the campaign. So now we have two guaranteed seats for Monday’s event. This was important to me because I wanted her to have some level of involvement in the campaign. The time I’m spending away from home and the time I’m taking blogging are putting a small strain on our daily relationship. I can’t help the fact that I’m driven. That’s who I am. After 39 years she ought to know that.

Mon. Oct 20.  Erin calls a 9:00 Breakfast meeting to go over the new staging locations and how we are going to work for the next 15 days. This is also the first day for early voting in Florida. Our push is now going to be getting everyone to the polls. I’m now going to be the GOTV captain at Union Park. He office closes today at 1:00 to get ready for the Obama/Hillary event tonight. As I write this I’m waiting for Susan to return home so that we can leave early to get there.



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