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I've been waging a battle within myself for the past month about whether or not to get out of this chair I sit in while writing diaries for DailyKos and get over to my local field office and volunteer or to continue to just write diaries to inspire other people to help the campaign by sharing information about what's going on and why it is so important to reelect President Obama.

Over the last few months I've received a lot of positive encouragement to continue to write. I've received private messages through DailyKos mail, as well as comments in my diaries from many of you telling me how much you enjoy my writing and urging me to continue. I've always known I have the ability to string words together to make coherent sentences. For the first time yesterday, I met someone in person who has been reading my diaries. I explained to him that I think the reason my diaries are so well received has to do with the fact that a lot of the information I'm sharing is new to me and so when I write I'm explaining to others who are coming at the information from the same place without a lot of previous knowledge and understanding.

It's similar to a story I used to tell from my childhood. I would be working on my math homework and ask my father to help me with a problem. He'd start out trying to explain it to me, but before he got very far he'd pull out his slide ruler (how many of you are old enough to remember what that is?) and say, "Let me show you how to use the slide ruler." I never did learn how to use one of those things. You can't learn how to do calculus until you've learned basic math. My diaries over the last few months have been a learning the basics experience for me and I appreciate that so many of you have been following along with me as I have opened my eyes to what's been going on in the world around me. I had my head stuck in the sand for too long.

On Wednesday night, actually the wee hours of Thursday morning around 3:00 a.m., a friend posted a comment on Facebook.

I continue to be appalled at Obama's "blame America" statements for the attacks on our embassies and the murder of Americans. The security of all Americans demands that this man be defeated on November 6. I have never in my almost 65 years felt so insecure with the man serving in the White House--and most of those years I considered myself a staunch Democrat. I will be casting my vote for Romney, who I feel is a good, competent man, and encourage all of you to do the same.
I'm not quite sure why this particular statement made my blood boil. Maybe it's because I woke up on my birthday to the sound of Mitt Romney making his foreign policy speech on Monday and the thought of him being Commander in Chief scares me to death. Maybe it's because Romney's desire to taking our economy on a different path frightens the living daylights out of me. Posts from this particular friend never angered me so much before. Perhaps it's because he lives in Alabama and I've always been able to tell myself that he can inspire every friend and neighbor he has to vote for Mitt Romney and it's not going to change the outcome of the election because Mitt Romney is going to win Alabama's nine Electoral College votes no matter what. Whatever it was, when I saw that post I pulled out my phone, opened the Obama app, clicked the Events tab and found out that the next training session for GOTV in my area was that Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. I had pulled up that screen several times before in the past month, but this was the first time that I actually sent in my RSVP.

Perhaps one of the things that worried me most about actually volunteering to make phone calls was a little bit of stage fright. But a real concern was what I would do if I was confronted by a Romney supporter who asked questions I couldn't answer. I know I worried about being able to control my anger because I can become very aggressive when I'm angry.

On Thursday night, I arrived for the training session and had an opportunity to watch a young man make calls before the session started. Watching somebody else do it alleviated all my worries. The calls being made were to people who are registered Democrats. The goal is to make sure they get out and vote. The chances that I would be talking to somebody who supported Mitt Romney was almost nil. I attended the training and the most important thing I learned from the awesome young man and young woman who conducted it was this. It's not the best speech or campaign ad or debate performance that wins elections. It's who gets the most people to the polls to vote. It's a numbers game and the one who makes the most personal contact with voters via phone calls and knocking on doors is going to win the numbers game. I'm paraphrasing there, but that's how my mind understands the numbers.

When I sat down to write this diary, I turned on the television to MSNBC for background noise as I write and heard Melissa Harris-Perry say in a segment about voter suppression efforts on the part of the GOP:

As you know, if you've been paying attention to this week in voter suppression, running an effective campaign to convince the majority of voters to cast a vote for you is just Plan A. This year state Republican lawmakers have drafted a blue print for Plan B, which goes something like this, if you can't get enough people to vote for you make sure to go out of your way to make sure enough people don't vote for the other guy; even if that means appealing all the way to the Supreme Court which is exactly what Ohio Secretary of State Michael [Jon] Husted is doing. He wants to stop Ohioans from voting on the weekend before the election so badly that he's asking the Supreme Court to overturn a federal court decision to restore voting on the last three days before the election.
Yes, Republicans are working hard to suppress the vote and that's why we have to work even harder to get President Obama's supporters out to vote. After the meeting I came home and watched the vice presidential debate which inspired me even further. It was wonderful to feel positive and a sense of happiness again after a week of depressing poll numbers, and I wrote a happy diary to encourage others to smile and have a good laugh too. I was finally about to get some sleep and was on my way to bed about 5:00 a.m. but made the mistake of reading Paul Krugman's article first. His warnings about a Romney election were scary, and so you guessed it, I wrote another diary. The first diary was already on the Recommended List and it was long before the second joined it. When I write diaries I feel an obligation to stick around and respond to and recommend comments. At 7:00 a.m. I couldn't keep my eyes open any more and I gave up and went to bed.

When I woke up at 3:00 p.m., I was admonishing myself for not getting up sooner. My goal was to get over to the OFA field office a lot earlier, but both diaries were still on the list, and I wanted to catch up on the news from the previous night's debate. I finally managed to pull myself away from the computer and get in the car. At 5:30 p.m. last night I was finally sitting in front of a computer screen at the OFA field office, and after some basic instructions made my first call. I sat at that table for the next two and a half hours straight without taking a break.

The entire experience was amazing and exhilarating. It was so easy. You start out by logging in to the computer application (help is available) and entering the telephone number of the phone you will be using. Phones are provided, or you can do what I did and use your own. My cellular service is with AT&T with roll-over minutes. I've accumulated a bucket of over 3,000 minutes and am happy to donate them to the campaign. Obviously I'm never going to use them before they expire. The computer dials numbers. When it connects with somebody, their name, gender and age as well as where they are located appear on your screen. You simply ask them who they are supporting for President and if they say President Obama, you go on to ask them how they plan to vote; whether by mail, early voting or on Election Day.

I didn't understand everything at once, but there was plenty of support in the room to answer any questions I had. With each call I made, my confidence in what I was doing grew. At one point one of the field leaders in the room who had been listening to my calls said to me, "You're doing a great job. You're making a difference and getting people to vote." By the end of the evening I was informed that I had made the most calls and made the most actual contact with people in the State of Florida. Every one in the room clapped and quite honestly, it was amazing to have feel like I had made a tangible positive contribution to the campaign.

There were a few calls that stood out. There was an elderly woman who told me that she was not going to vote. It was her opinion that all politicians lie and it doesn't matter who gets elected. Perhaps if I had a little more confidence and experience under my belt I would have engaged her in conversation and tried to persuade her to change her mind, but I just politely thanked her for her time, marked the "not voting" selection and moved on.

A few of the calls connected me to people who had moved to other states. One man started out by saying that he was a firm Mitt Romney supporter. He was the only one to tell me that all night. It turned out he was teasing me, and we had a pleasant chat about how he now lived in Indiana and that he and his entire family were voting for President Obama.

The one call that I remember most did not start out well. It was to an elderly woman in St Pete Beach who did not want to discuss who she was voting for in the election, as quite a few people did. With other calls I simply marked the person as "undecided" which I was told would inform the campaign to send people to their door to talk to them in person. However, in this particular case, I continued to smile (because if you're smiling while you talk even though the person can't see you, you're conveying a tone of being pleasant). At some point the woman softened and said, "You know I think we're supporting the same person." She talked about how she didn't understand people who based their decision on the color of someone's skin. I offered that it was true about a lot of older people in America, but what inspires me is the younger generation today. So many young people don't see skin color, and accept each other as people. She then said, "I would never marry somebody of a different color." And I responded, "You can't help who you fall in love with." That made her laugh and we moved on to how she was going to vote.

She said that she was elderly (I knew that from the screen) and that she couldn't get out much. I then told her about how she could vote by absentee ballot. She asked me if I would call and have a ballot sent to her. I didn't know how I could do that, but fortunately the field leader was listening to my conversation and brought me a list of all the Supervisors of Elections in Florida and I was able to give her the phone number to call on Monday to get a ballot.

That one call made all the difference to me. It proved to me that it was worth my time to sit there and make as many calls as I could. My sincere hope is that if you have been thinking about getting out and volunteering, it will inspire you too. It boils down to this. It's a numbers game. The more contacts made, the more people we will inspire to get out and vote for President Obama.

After the phone banks closed at 9:00 p.m., I stayed and talked with others there. I asked what the Romney campaign was doing because I was simply amazed at how well organized this operation for President Obama was. I was told that yes, the Republicans were also doing similar things but they hire and pay people to do the work. Think about that. I was there making calls for President Obama because I believe in the cause. How inspiring do you think people are who are paid to deliver a message for Mitt Romney?

That in no way means that you should sit back and not worry about this election. You should. If you have even two or three spare hours a week, President Obama needs your help. Take that first step. Find the nearest field office and walk in. You will be inspired by the enthusiasm of the people already there. They will help you learn the ropes. Do it! Please! It really is all about the numbers. The more calls made, and the more people who hear a friendly voice on the other end of the phone, the more votes we will generate for President Obama.

I know you'll understand that this time I won't be around to respond and recommend comments in this diary. Please excuse any typos or misspellings in this diary. I don't have time to reread what I've just written and correct errors. I'm on my way out the door to make as many calls as I can for President Obama today, and I will continue to make calls and pitch in every where I can every single day from now until the election. Please join me.

Tracy

Originally posted to hungrycoyote on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 10:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by Volunteering for a Better World.

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