Posts tagged ‘obama’

Posts from America (5) – The road ahead

the Black Jack map of rumored capitals (blue s...

Image via Wikipedia

Vegas ate my money last night. I thought I’d worked out a ‘guaranteed to win’ strategy on the Black Jack tables. Guess what, I hadn’t. But to be honest I didn’t really mind. I still feel I won. The US made an historic choice yesterday and I played a small part in my part of Nevada in making it happen. I’ve been involved in several political campaigns in the UK and for me, there’s nothing quite like winning an election.

Ahead of arriving in Nevada I’d wondered what kind of reception I might get. Would people be puzzled about why someone would want to come from Europe to get involved in the US election? Would they think I was meddling in something that didn’t concern me? Would they politely, or not so politely, tell me to go home? I didn’t need to worry, everyone I met and talked to, Democrat, Republican or non-aligned welcomed my involvement. The people I worked with were bowled over that four ‘guys from London’ (I didn’t confuse them with the fact that I actually live in Belgium) had been inspired to come and lend a hand. Every time we opened our mouths someone would ask where we’d come from and why we’d chosen to campaign. At last night’s victory party in the Rio Hotel we were treated like celebrities who everyone wanted to be photographed with. I was swept away by the distinctly US enthusiasm for the new president and enjoyed every minute of it. For the record Obama Girl didn’t make it… I’m guessing she was getting her head around her new brief.

Obama Girl getting ready for her new role

Obama Girl getting ready for her new role

Today I left Vegas and returned to California. I was given a ride by volunteers who decided just over 48 hours ago that they needed to be where the action was and head to Vegas to lend a hand. The conversation in the car as we drove back through the dessert was mainly focused on the future and on what ‘change’ will mean in reality. I was interested to hear what they think the new president will bring. Expectations are clearly high and President-elect Obama has a lot of people to keep happy. ‘Yes We Can’ served him well during the campaign, but it was a slogan into which each person inserted their own dreams. Keeping together the coalition he has built will be a challenge and he may well disappoint along the way, but I wonder how different the US and possibly the world will be at the end of his first term in 2012.

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November 6, 2008 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

Posts from America (4) – Judgement day

imgp0340We’ve been on the streets of the voting precincts of Centennial Hills in NW Vegas since 6am. It’s an area, like all of Vegas, which is carved out of the dessert. To me it feels a bit like human beings will only be here temporarily. I write this because, coming from a temperate climate where we’re used to lots of water, lots of trees and a fair amount of wildlife I just can’t fathom how humans could live here long term – it’s so very barren. However it is very beautiful and the sun rise this morning lit the hills of the Las Vegas valley a beautiful burned red – a great contrast to the neon of the city.

Our first job was to hang ‘don’t forget to vote’ notices of the front doors of those we hope will vote Democrat. We did our best to avoid waking the excitable dogs that many people here have. In most cases we failed, so as we walked away from each street we left choruses of dogs and no doubt pretty annoyed people. Hopefully they’ll not be taking their anger out in the polling booth.

At 9am all the door hangers were all out and so we then went out to talk to people. This is an area which has suffered greatly from the sub-prime crisis and credit crunch. One in five houses here has been repossessed and it shows as you walk around the streets. People are feeling the impact of this recession and it is clear why they are so nervous.

Unlike in Europe, most people in the US register as being Democrat, Republican or Independent when they register to vote. This means that from the start of the campaign each party has a fair idea of where it’s support will come from. The challenges for each party are to ensure that it’s natural supporters get out to vote and to convince as many independents as possible to opt for its candidate. Each time we leave the campaign HQ to walk a precinct, we’re given a pack of sheets which contain information about the people we’ll be knocking on the doors of. Many on our sheets have the names of registered Republicans and independents who have said at some point over the last few weeks that they’ll be supporting Obama. This is obviously good news. However, I did meet a man this morning who, as a registered Democrat, decided to vote McCain because he didn’t like what Obama had said about redistribution.

The TV coverage has been interesting. Because Nevada is in the west of the country, it’s three hours behind the states on the East Coast. The pundits are keeping a keen eye on the big swing states in the east like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina. The results of these are coming in thick and fast. There are pretty clear, early results and it looks like Nevada’s 5 electoral college votes won’t make much of a difference to the overall result. This has not dampened our spirits though and we are determined that our efforts will deliver the state for Obama. The networks are wary of calling the result too early. In 2004 a few called the election for Kerry, only to have to eat humble pie later in the night as it became clear that Bush had actually won. The competition to be the first to declare the election has been complicated by the huge number of websites which are now part of the race with the mainstream news networks.

Polls have just closed – 7pm Pacific Coast Time. We’re covered all the doors on our sheets and just returned to HQ. Everyone here is gathered around the tv watching what is happening in the east. It looks good and the mood is getting more and more frenzied. We’re hoping the party down on Las Vegas’s famous Strip in the Rio Hotel will be one to remember. Democrats, who have been campaigning all over the city, will be there to await the official result.

I can only imagine what is going through Barack Obama’s head now. What a moment. History in the making. Brilliant!

November 5, 2008 at 11:11 pm Leave a comment

Obama and the iPhone

Image representing IPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

There is little doubt that if queues to vote for the Democrats on November 4 are comparable to queues on the release of the iPhone, then Obama will be a happy man.  Last week Obama’s team announced that the link between Obama and the iPhone ran deeper, with the creation of an application for the iPhone which encourages friends and families to vote.

The imaginatively-named ‘Obama 08 Phone App’ has a ‘Call Friends’ option that prioritizes contacts by key battleground states and asks users to call their friends in those states to vote for Obama. The software also enables users to receive updates about the campaign and set reminders to call friends on Election Day. Chris Hughes, the director of online organizing for the Obama campaign explained, “A contact has a lot more value when it is from someone you know than when it is from some random person,” said Chris Hughes, the director of online organizing for the Obama campaign.

Amid such talk, it is easy to forget that the subject of the conversation is political campaigning. Indeed, categories such as “Not Interested,” “Considering Obama” and “Already Voted,” are more suggestive of an online dating tool. Herein lies the ingenuity of ‘Obama 08 Phone App’: the obvious question as to why friends would want to sort their contacts into anything other than alphabetical lists is lost in the originality of the application.  The software plugs into the millions of American iPhone lovers and Obama supporters in the hope that the passion for the former might be mirrored in support for latter on November 4.

Obama’s use of digital tools provides interesting insight into political campaigning in the 21st Century. His website has links to no less than 16 social networking tools, as well as the now almost standard TV channel. Whilst not all of the platforms are likely to appeal to the European voter (indeed British iPhone lovers are unlikely to fall for a ‘Brown 08 Phone App’), the US election does offer innovative ideas for politicians on this side of the Atlantic.


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October 7, 2008 at 12:25 pm 1 comment

Why is their politics cooler than ours?

Barack Obama definitely has the wind in his sails as he heads towards a possible (probable?) Democratic nomination. And an increasingly cool wind it is too. The latest foray of pop into politics sees hip-hop grandee,, front man for the Black Eyed Peas and producer of the Pussycat Dolls, lend his voice in support of Obama in the way he knows best; a pop video. The combination of Obama’s spoken words and singing raises the hairs on the back of the neck, recalling the great black-and-white orators of yesteryear, King and Kennedy, and bringing Obama a mantle of cool to which European politicians can only aspire. 13 million people have already seen this video, with one million a day logging on. What MEP would not give his or her eye teeth for that level of exposure?

For cool, also read sexy. Obama-Girl’s song “I have a crush on Obama” also gained six million hits or so on YouTube. Perhaps we will see “I have a crush on Barroso” by Barroso-Girl sometime soon, but somehow I doubt it.

As we head towards the dog-end of the second Bush administration, and as the US election battle becomes the greatest show on earth, there is no doubt that their politics is much cooler than ours. Annoying, but true.

February 15, 2008 at 3:23 pm 1 comment

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