Door-to-Door, Again

By Al Giordano

Jeremy Bird of Organizing for America conducts an online training on “the ten basic steps” for this coming weekend’s nationwide door-to-door canvass, meant to build vocal public support for the President’s budgetary initiatives on Education, Energy and Health Care:

1. Pick your canvass locations strategically. Conduct door-to-door canvassing in a neighborhood with many doors near each other, or at high traffic public areas. Walk every door (unlike during the 08 campaign, canvassers won't be working only off of voter lists), and also at grocery stores, public transportation stops, sporting events, fast food restaurants… If location is not working, move on to a nother place. Have backup places.

2. Approach people with a positive attitude. Smile. "In Virginia we found people very receptive to our message and they were ready to engage." 

3. Share your own personal story. Nothing is more powerful than your story. Let them know what’s at stake for you.

4. Explain the reasons for the pledge: Energy, Education, Health Care.

5. Share the organizing plan: "We’ll be organizing all year around these key issues." Organizing for America is building a presence in every neighborhood, nationwide.

6. Make the hard "ask" and secure their signatures.

7. Make sure their information is complete and legible. "Let them know that we won’t share their info with anyone." 

8. Ask them to volunteer with Organizing for America locally. "We are building local power."

9 "Let them know where to find us." (At

10. Tally your results and enter your data. In one hour in Virginia, the training canvass signed up "dozens of supporters... Data entry will allow us to communicate with the people you talk to today."

Organizing for America conducted a test drive last weekend in Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District (that of US Rep. Eric Cantor, now Republican Whip in the House). Last November, Republican John McCain won the presidential vote in that district with 53 percent of the tally, but Barack Obama’s 46 percent measured a full eight points higher than those of Democrats John Kerry (who received 38 percent in ’04) or Al Gore (who got just 37 percent of the votes there in ’00). In the video, above, Bird – architect of Obama’s watershed South Carolina primary and Ohio general election victories – utilizes volunteers from that test canvass in Virginia to walk viewers through the ten steps.

One can find or start a canvass in one’s town or city via this link.

The goal is to collect signatures of everyday Americans - along with their contact information - on behalf of this pledge:

I support President Obama's bold approach for renewing America's economy

I will ask friends, family, and neighbors to pledge their support for this plan...

Energy — Transforming America's economy to run on clean and renewable energy in order to create new American jobs and industries

Health care — Comprehensively reforming health care so that families, businesses, and government are relieved from the crushing costs that impede economic growth and prosperity

Education — Reforming and investing in America's education system so that citizens are prepared to compete in a global economy

This is about doing a number of things (the ol' "walk and chew gum maneuver") simultaneously:

Organizing for America seeks to raise up a grassroots army to push Congress to approve the Obama budget (in which more spending on energy, health care and education are major initiatives), and also for future difficult legislative fights like the Employee Free Choice Act and, later, immigration reform.

This is also the kickoff for the field organizing flank for the 2010 Congressional elections.

It’s also significant that the canvassers will go door-to-door to every house, rather than relying only on voter lists or targeting members of any party or demographic. That indicates that it’s also the beginning of the 2010 voter registration drive; an effort to politically engage significant numbers of people who are not yet registered to vote (and you can be certain there will be follow up to register them before November 2010).

It goes without saying that no incumbent president or political party in power in the United States has ever attempted to bypass the media and old guard party machines to construct a grassroots people-to-people outreach and organization even close to this magnitude. Not that this is unexpected. But now it’s beginning, for real, step-by-step, one door at a time. And as each doorbell is rung, the canvasser will know that thousands just like him and her are doing the same job simultaneously.

Knock, knock, America.



Contemplating getting my feet wet

I'm one of Obama's 13 million data base and got a copy of the Pledge e-mail.  What I really liked about it was that after "taking the pledge" the second page gives one an array of options as to what level you feel comfortable participating in ranging from Organizing a house party, Organizing a neighborhood, Writing a letter to local newspaper, Participating in a phone bank, doing door-to-door canvassing. I checked 2 -that I would be willing to participate in a phone bank and to take the OFA training.  I have never done any hands on political work, feeling more comfortable contributing financially. I think it's very clever to give people options as it carries the underlying message that whatever one feels able to do is valued. 

Personally, with the mood of the citizenry...

Personally, with the mood of the citizenry over the bailout (including the moods of many Obama supporters), this does not sound like it might be a pleasant experience.

I personally look forward to Obama making some serious changes regarding his economic advisors - Geithner, Summers, et al. - or wising up and deciding to listen to additional voices so he can make better decisions.  But I don't expect it.

OFA: the next level

As someone involved in the "Draft Obama" group in Jan. 2007, I immediately jumped on to the campaign site as soon as it began.  Beginning with Camp Obama in Aug. 2007, and finishing with as Co-Comfort Team Leader for our location on Nov. 4th, I have been wonderfully trained by Barack, via the folks that volunteered and those on staff with the campaign.  I've signed up with some friends from the campaign to "knock for Barack"  to personally bring this message of support to my neighbors.  

I appreciate Al's 10 point summary, in black and white.  I appreciate feeling positive about supporting Obama's agenda.  The whole AIG/Wall Street crap is what it is.  We the People need help with the 3 main points I will be discussing with my neighbors:  Healthcare-Education-Energy.  I have my story. This is a pledge I can handle, because I know this is the exact way to help our country recover from the years that the Bush regime beat us up.  I must admit I am fired up and ready to go...again.

Yes we know we can!

@ Mary in Seattle

Mary in Seattle - The IAG bonuses (amounting to one percent of the bailout funds the company has received) are clearly bothersome and unpopular, but are they really generating "outrage?" If so, I'd like to see the evidence. 

No, that's what the corporate media tells you that you and your neighbors are feeling. But I don't see it or hear it from the masses. I think people are in more of a wait-and-see mode.

Related is that I strongly disagree with the armchair quarterback stuff about "Obama has to change his economic advisors." Oh, really? Fifty days into the presidential term and you're ready to call a verdict on that? I frankly think that's silly. We won't know for a year or two if the moves they've been making these first fifty days were the right ones, and the evidence will depend on whether the economy stops tanking and begins to turn around or not. Geithner and Summers may end up looking like geniuses then, or like goats, but anybody that draws conclusions now is just looking, in my opinion, to start a fight in an empty room.

@ Al

So I am not the only one who is suspicious of this claimed outpouring of "outrage". IMHO, this is intended to distract attention from the payments AIG made to its counter-parties. That is $100 billion (a thousand times as much as the bonuses) of taxpayer money over half of which went to foreign banks and most of the rest to big Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs. I am a lot more concerned about how that is playing out, particularly if the European countries in question are willing to work with the U.S. to resolve the situation, than about the stupid bonuses.

As for Geithner, a lot of the outrage at him seems to be that he has not already taken action to relieve the banks of their toxic assets. Instead, he has been setting up plans to get consumer and small business lending going again and dealing with foreclosures. Things that more directly affect Main Street. Apparently Wall Street has to wait in line until others have been taken care of first. I am not so sure this is a bad thing!

The only thing that getting rid of the current economic team would do at this point is cause the recovery efforts to stall completely while new people were searched for, vetted, went through the nomination process, and then got up to speed. And that is supposed to help how?

A lot of people seem to imagine that there is a simple solution that will magically fix what took eight years (if not a lot longer) to become this broken and when they don't see it they are blaming the people who are trying to fix it. Conveniently, those who caused the mess get off free.


I too agree. And the bonuses are really only one-tenth of one percent. I will be canvassing this weekend.

Mikell Hagood



I had to laugh at your post about AIG. I thought surely my co workers would want to talk about the bonuses issue, as AIG is our insurer. None of them give a crap. Ok, not true, one of them did, but couldn't see how AIG could get out of paying bonuses when there were contracts involved.

The point isn't the percentage point

And I'm aware of quite a number of people who were strong Obama supporters and were unhappy at his choices of Geithner and Summers - long before the AIG bonus issue. 

You must be talking or listening to other people than I am. 

Still got the big picture on my mind...

Where did this idea that Obama only listens to Geithner and Summers come from?  Mr. "Team of Rivals?"  Mr. "Afraid of being like Bush in a bubble"?  Mr. "Blackberry to stay connected?"  NOW, all of a sudden he ONLY listens to Geithner and Summers?  Just because Krugman doesn't have his ear, doesn't mean Obama isn't getting a well-rounded idea of what's going on, and how to fix things.

This is all propanda, with no proof, only stories quoting unnamed "sources."

Yea, We’re Fed Up and We’re Not Going To Take It Anymore!

Oh, I think there is plenty of public outrage over the bailout of AIG and the slippery bonuses. Let's not kid ourselves.

But where that outrage is directed is now the game.

A good chunk of the bailout money for AIG was put in motion prior to Obama taking office, and we now find out who the biggest beneficiary was of that taxpayer subsidy: Goldman Sachs, which used to be headed by Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. And then other large chunks of the taxpayer bailout went to foreign lenders like Socete Generale, Deutsche Bank and Barclays [Old Europe, the part Rumsfeld admired], and there's more we don't even know about.

Add as far as the bonus largesse, you can be damn sure anyone who knows how to balance a checkbook in America is pretty damn pissed off about that right now, especially if they were recently layed off.

But had not those billons gone to those millionaires and their firms, they would have pushed the misery down further, rather than take the hit themselves, and the cascading effect would have been substantially greater for the little guy, or at least that's the operating theory. Who want's to roll those dice?

But what ticks off anybody with a brain is the arrogance of rubbing salt in the wound with the bonuses -- regardless of the percentage. Now the MSM, in sectors,  is trying to lay it at the feet of Obama by saying he either was a chump and now looks impotent for allowing the bonuses to be paid [not drafting the proper legal safeguards in the bailout] or that somehow Geitner, who was involved during the Bush administration in orchestrating the bailout effort, is somehow complicit with his Wall Street buddies.

That' the spin. From what I understand, the AIG unit that got a good share of the bonuses was based in London, and likely outside U.S. law to a large degree. Regardless, AIG still has teams of lawyers who likely can get around any legalese put in place by the new administration to prevent bonus payouts, since the nation's laws are largely written in favor of corporate perogative.

And watch for the next big story, how these foreign lenders now benefiting from U.S. taxpayer bailouts are dishing out bonuses as well.

So yeah, people are pissed off, looking for scapegoats, and Obama's people are in the bulls-eye on that front because they are out front, easy to shoot at. The truth is, as I see it, any taxpayer money thrown at the corporate world can't ultimately be controlled in the aftermath. Greed in that world is like oil in the water of good intentions; it will always rise to the top.

But I do think it's time for Obama to get outside that box; I suspect he will, possibly, as he's proven to be a fast learner. The fix for this problem rests with the masses, not the banks -- or we change nothing and wind up back here again, ultimately, or our grandkids do.

What if we threw $1 trillion or maybe $2 trillion at Social Security and universal health care -- assuring health care and a liveable retirement for everyone? [In other words, replace some share of lost 401K dreams, autoworkers pensions, and minimum wage late-life destitution with real retirement security], reduced by some measure by wealth accumulated over a life time? Couple that with affordable housing and education and a solid saftey net for the unemployed, and consumer confidence would be restored in a lizard's wink because the worry over basic survival would be alleviated for the vast swath of Americans. And that could be just the spark to pull us out of this depression.

But that would be socialism, the critics cry! Ah, you know, that's precisely what FDR did, though —  nearly 80 years ago, and the systems set up then have atrophied and need to be reinvigorated. 

So yes, the people are pissed right now. A trillion dollars and more to the corporate world, as already proven, will not trickle down. It wil be spent on protecting corporate interests.

The same money directed toward the people makes the corporate world irrelevant. Plenty of community lenders, who did not follow the greedy heard, still exist, and more can be started to provide the service, as can a host of other community-centered enterprises. We have to kill the idea of Wall Street and the mega-global-conglomerate as critical to anything other than perpetuating a system that puts greed and convenience over the common good.

Until Obama jumps into that pool with conviction, he will remain in the sights of those looking to deliver up a scapegoat to the masses, to be tarred and feathered, because the real Culprits Enforcing Order [CEOs] will not tolerate Obama keeping even a toe in the water with their oil so long as they are at the top -- and the MSM, controlled by that corporate world, will only be too happy to deliver him up for the feathering.

He has to care more about Americans failing and less about corporate America succeeding. That's the bottom line. Is he there? Time will tell, but I suspect it's a process for him — a risk that few among us, if we were honest, would take on lightly given the power it threatens.

But ask your neighbors, if they are still in their houses, where their frustration meters are at right now — how secure they feel about tomorrow. I think you'll find, as I have, that most are fed up, at a tipping point. Put your finger in the wind, if you don't believe me, and feel the heat of the times now upon us, the tension in the streets, in the workplaces, in your heart.

And then tell me I'm wrong. 


View from the door: support what exactly?

If someone came to my door with Organizing for America, I'd want a straight answer on whether Obama's health plan will have a public pool component -- not tied to employers -- before I committed to support it. 

In fact, the health care language that canvassees are asked to support doesn't talk about anything but cost containment; it doesn't even hint at expanded access to coverage and care, for the tens of millions of us out here without any health insurance (and more all the time, at current terrifying job loss rates).

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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