Saturday, December 20, 2008

November 4, 2008: Change has come to America

If it felt like this for us, God knows what it was like for the rest of them.

Every moment of every day checking emails, planning, organizing, strategizing, devising and creating video content, sitting on conference calls, figuring out ways to win, to bring Hope and Action to America. For twenty-one months and for many more for some, it was their lives.

And it all hinged on what would happen on that one clear, temperate day in November.



Five weeks on – now that the dust has settled on the election and on the campaign, now that cabinet posts have been filled and economic advisers have been placed – it is both too late and too early to fully assess what happened on November 4, 2008. We’re in that odd time between History being made and judged.

But for those of you who enjoyed our blog and who offered support for our journey across the country in search of people to engage and stories to tell, here are the videos of that magical day.

At times, Drive for Obama was as much vacation as vocation, as much discovery as dedication.

Driving across the country we made musical pilgrimages to Memphis and New Orleans; we studied the Clinton and Johnson Libraries; we marvelled at Graceland and the Grand Canyon; we visited the far-flung metropolises of LA and San Francisco – and we fell in love with America all over again.

But we also spoke to people every day about why we felt Barack Obama was the right person to lead the country and the world at this perilous time.

We spoke to supporters and sceptics, and received mixed reactions. But almost everyone was proud that their country had inspired two people from thousands of miles away to engage in their process. To many, that in itself was a sign that this country was working again and turning the page on division.

Time and again we repeated the same message – that there is nothing more critical for our world than the election of intelligent, honest, fair-minded, progressive leaders.

That Barack Obama is a rare and timely political talent; a man of supreme judgement, vision and inspiration at a time of war, economic recession and global environmental crisis.



We repeated this message to people across the country, on the gas station forecourts and in the hostels from DC to California; to the sound of music on the streets of New Orleans and Nashville; from the bustling phone banks of local campaign offices in Louisiana and Arizona.

And on Election Day, November 4 2008, we awoke early and made our way to the National Obama Campaign HQ in Chicago. We made 300 calls to Indiana, and – along with the friends we made on the way – we helped win that state for Obama by an eventual 20,000 votes.



That evening, the joy and hope in Grant Park, Chicago, were palpable. This really felt like an essential moment on the journey of this country, and a turning point in History.

We’re sorry this last blog has taken so long. We are both now back in the UK, and – while we are immensely proud of what we’ve contributed to in our other home – in some way it has already been consigned to memory. To History.

But we’re grateful for the opportunities afforded us by America, and we’re as impressed as our passion always told us we would be with the beginnings of the fledgling Obama administration.

Our only complaint? That it hasn’t started yet.

November 3, 2008: The Apprehension

The night before the election, I was a bag of nerves. The apprehension wasn’t made easier by the seemingly endless delay our Chicago-bound flight from Las Vegas, NV.

I tried to relax and kill time by reading and making phone calls, by going over and over the polls in the press that said this would be a handsome victory – but all I could think about were all the innumerous things that could go wrong.



Alex

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's Called Representation

At times like these, it's helpful to reappraise why our fervor and dedication to a Democratic White House, and specifically an Obama White House, are so fierce.

Because it doesn't realy matter what we think, so we went back out on the streets and gas station forecourts canvassing and asking the electorate whose policies best fit the American People's Hopes and Requirements?

In our experience, when we’ve spoken to people across America, in districts and cities and states from Brooklyn to DC to Tennessee to New Orleans and, now, California, their lives and their ambitions are directly reflected in the Obama campaign's policies and are often the polar opposite of the McCain dictat.

Obama's support of these people's needs is not Socialism, it’s not even Populism, it’s Representation, plain and simple.

And that truth, in spite of an economy in freefall; in spite of a $15 billion monthly war bill; in spite of a healthcare program that doesn’t protect the people who need it most; and, most reassuringly in 2008, in spite of the incendiary rhetoric of the McCain-Palin campaign – that truth is the basis of democracy and the tide of Renewal, Hope and Action that will sweep the most gifted leader of his generation to the White House next week and begin to repair our communities and our world.

Here are some of the eloquent tales and Hopes of some of the people we’ve been talking to on the road…

Introduction


Please repair the standing of the United States in the Global Community - Nathan, Louisiana


I want our granddaughters to go to college without bankrupting their parents - Mary, New York City


If there's going to be a change, it has to be Obama - John, Texas


Let's get beyond partisan politics in Washington - Tom, California


We need to get school-wise, job-wise


More better jobs...to support my kids

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Personal Reflection: The Global-American Condition in 2008

The theme that I keep going over in my head is the one that’s been articulated here already, that this is America in 2008, that even if our efforts are unappreciated by some, then they are wholeheartedly supported by others – that we are witness to the Global-American condition in this critical, historic, iconic year.

In recent days, we have been exposed to the great American dichotomy; of a work always intentionally and admirably unfinished, of impossible ideals grasped for, of the diversity in background and opinion that encompass the creed: E Pluribus, Unum; that though America is comprised of people from every extreme of life’s spectrum, the overall national direction can be unified if it holds to the fundamental belief that all men are created equal.

Yes, even now we are largely outsiders to this process, observers to the sensitive makeup of a nation much more than we are participants, but we feel we can make a small impact with the work we do – that if one person we connect with votes for Obama even in part as a result of a conversation we’ve had with them, then rather than wasting our time in an arena in which we are not wanted, we’ve invested it with passion and precision.

I understand that there are issues at stake in this election that are unique to Americans, that this is their business first and foremost.

But if Drive for Obama can achieve anything towards its ends, then it’s the espousal of an international interpretation on the incredible process of American democracy, a forwarding that these issues affect us all.

For me specifically, it’s been a steep learning curve. The profound feeling during the first two weeks was that Drive for Obama was preaching to the choir; connecting with people, yes, but connecting with people who already agree with us, who are already dedicating their time to registering voters or knocking on doors and spreading the message, making sure that it is heard and that national opinion is given its just platform.

But, irrespective of what we would like to believe and what we hear from the campaigns, politics is – by definition – a partisan practise. People are ideological and vociferous in their long held views..

That's only right. There is nothing wrong with being ideological. People need to have convictions and people need to hold firm to the ideals that they believe will best benefit themselves and their families in the lives they choose to lead. That is the beauty of the democratic process and the genius of Jefferson’s Bill of Rights. And that is why we are afforded the privilege of doing this.

But when the differences that divide people are encouraged by national leaders – rather than the similarities that unite the common hopes everyone shares – the fracturing results are clear to see.

In recent days, we have been proxy to some of the vitriol espoused by the McCain-Palin campaign. I will not go into specifics here, but the hate-mongering that started at the Republican rallies is seemingly, in small number of specific constituencies, getting through and influencing the mindset of a small part of the electorate.

McCain and Palin’s tactics constitute fear-mongering of the darkest and most damaging kind. Yes, they are the results of a desperate campaign, and they will not affect the outcome of the election.

But hearing these comments on the streets, what concerns me is that the well of American fairness and tolerance is being poisoned by an element of the Republican campaign for political purposes, and that that may have severe consequences for the next administration.

The next President is going to have to deal with Honest to God battles. The global economy is in turmoil, war proliferates and our planet is burning.

My concern is that, as a direct result of the incitement of the McCain campaign, whose ads are not just negative or critical in political or ideological terms, not just demonstrating disagreement on the issues at stake, but are incendiary and downright dangerous, my concern is that the American and global social fabric(s) may require severe repair after this campaign, at a time when I thought cosmetic issues were being overcome.

My sincere hope, however, and my ultimate belief, is that the negative attacks will have little influence on the outcome of the election, and that an Obama presidency will confront and tackle these issues, and debate them in the open as a sincere assessment and addressing of what our world wants to be.

That is my hope and that's why we are spending time trying to connect with voters, for no other reason than to give voice to this message of Hope.

Alex.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Texas Hurricane

Tonight, we inadvertantly drove into the eye of what the weatherman described as 'a hurricane.' Whoopsy.

Tucked away in our Odessa, TX, motel now, after some canvassing of the doorman as we arrived at midnight, we can laugh, but it was a bit scary at the time!



By the way, this is what Texan hurricanes normally do to things in their path...

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Houston, TX. 10/10/08.

Are You Doing The Driving?

More Tiffing for Obama on route to New Oreans, LA.

The South

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Raleigh, NC.

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The night of the Biden-Palin debate, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

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The McCain cups in 7/11 are very unpopular, Austin, TX.

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Our reading, viewing and listening materials on the road and in the motels, Austin, TX.

Messages of Hope From Around The World (III)

Alex and Russell, I have checked out your blog and now your facebook site. What you two are doing is absolutely amazing. THANK YOU for rallying support for Obama/Biden! I see victory on the horizon. Safe travels.
Nicole Vaughan, Charlottesville, VA

Just thought I'd drop you a line to say I've been keeping up to date with your travels on the blog and I think what you're both doing is fantastic. I'm hugely envious! I've got about a hundred questions to ask about it but these can keep until we meet up sometime in the hopefully not too distant future! Keep up the good work and fingers crossed for a positive result in November!
Simon Swaine, Sheffield, UK

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Joey's Message

Last night we met a young Democrat named Joey, originally from California but currently in New Orleans.

Joey asked us to remind Barack supporters that the iconic 2008 Obama t-shirts, caps and pin-badges will be prohibited from the polls on election day, as they are deemed electioneering tools by the Federal Commission on elections.

'The day before the election, we can wear them in support,' he said, 'the day after, in celebration.'

He also said 'you guys, and the international support for the Obama campaign in general, are a huge part of this movement...you're making a big difference on the ground in terms of perception. Thank you for your contribution.'

The Connection Card

As we meet people and speak with them across America, we realized we needed a hook to draw them into our campaign.

Just as we were about to print some amateur cards, a package arrived for us in New Orleans.

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We've already starting using these, as you can see from yesterday's video, and people are responding really well.

Special thanks to Drive for Obama's Guardian Angel for these, and for spoiling us generally in our mission.