A Shout Out to the American People

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

(By Joanne Boyer, cross-posted at Wisdom Voices)

If you listened closely over the last several months of 2012, the progressive voice of the American people began to get louder and louder. It has never really been silent; rather it has been drowned out over the last 30 years by a noise machine that has made us as a people forget our proud progressive past – that great period of American history that brought us a strong middle class, the Great Society, the environmental movement and proclaimed the idea that we work together as individuals to form a community-based society that believes:We are all better off, when we are all better off.

Our December Progressive Profile proudly salutes all of us who used our voices (and sometimes our feet) to reclaim the notion that we live in a country of, by and for the people – not the corporations, not the elite, not the One Percent. The American people rose up in every corner of this country and on just about every topic that impacts our lives:voting rights, labor rights, peace and non-violence, and helped us refocus on the important question of what is it we really want from life.And ultimately, perhaps it is the environmental voices that speak the loudest:What does it profit anyone to have a ton of paper money when our very existence on this planet is threatened.

In a year-end salute to the wisdom voices of the American people, we have included the following as examples.

* Those staff members and volunteers at TakeActionMN who made more than 500,000 phone calls and reached over 100,000 individuals in the final weekend before the November 6th elections to help beat back a “voter ID” constitutional amendment that would have forever changed the way people vote in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.A Republican state legislator who serves as the state chairperson for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) brought forth the amendment, which was nothing more than a boilerplate for voter suppression. When first introduced, the amendment polled at nearly 80 percent in favor of passage.On November 6th, thanks to individuals and groups who relentlessly fought back, the measure failed — soundly. At a recent fund-raising event for TakeActionMN, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton told the crowd quite simply and quite powerfully, “You saved democracy (in Minnesota).”

* Mike Brickner, spokesperson for the ACLU of Ohio, who has spent years fighting back the insanity known as the Ohio voting system.He, and hundreds other like him, has worked tirelessly fending off the Ohio Republican Party’s attempts to suppress voters. “I’ve been a part of this in Ohio for the 2004, 2008 and 2012 elections,” Brickner said before this year’s elections. “We call elections the ‘silly season.’ But when manipulation of the system is done to get a desired result, it’s ultimately the voter that suffers. Because it’s confusing by design, we’re doing all we can to get the truth out and to empower Ohioans to get to the polls and to get someone else to the polls.Because for everyone of us who can get to the polls, we know 1, 2 or 3 people who need assistance to get there.”Despite the numerous attempts by Republican Secretary of State John Husted, Ohioans by the thousands stood in long lines to cast their votes with resounding success.

* The thousands of courageous people in Florida who spoke with their feet as they stood in line for hours to vote and to say: You cannot take away my right to vote. I often wonder, would I have had the patience, courage and conviction of these people?

* Tacoma, Washington, resident Rev. William Bichsel, S.J., now in his 80s, who has dedicated his life to the causes of peace and justice, even when taking that stand meant going to jail.He never stops speaking truth to power through non-violent demonstrations. He recently won the Greater Tacoma Peace Prize and is headed to Oslo Norway to attend the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremonies later this month. As he wrote in a homily about ‘laying down one’s life for a friend’ while incarcerated in 2011 for his anti-nuclear protests:

“As I slowly shuffle around the common area, I thank God for being here and for the peace I experience. I am not anxious or overly concerned by anything…A very touching incident that highlights our treatment by the inmates happened on our second day here when there was a shake down. All the inmates had to file into the big, very cold exercise room while the guards went through our cells looking for contraband. While I was standing there shivering one of the Mexican inmates came up and put his jacket around my shoulders. I was touched by his compassion… I’m blessed by the peace and quiet spirit inside. I’m not concerned about trying to be more than I am with the other inmates. I’m trying to let them see – and not hide or disguise – my lack of knowledge of so many things. I want to be as I have been formed by time and the community of people about me at different stages and positions in my life. Like I said: I’m lucky to be here.”

* Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis who led an incredible show of unity on the labor front as Chicago teachers said, “no more” to charter schools and overcrowded and underfunded classrooms and pushed for neighborhood schools that would give students and parents the schools they need and deserve. Their strike brought into focus the need to re-commit to public education as a core value of our country.“The only way to beat a bully,” Lewis said at a rally down the block from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office days before the strike was called, “is to stand up to a bully!”

* The incredible courage exhibited by Walmart workers who, with their Black Friday strike, took the first step in beating back the retail bully on the block.Every social movement begins with a first step.“I’m just tired of it,” says Michael Wilkins, a Walmart worker. “I don’t have a regular schedule. They send me home. And I have bills to pay and a family to feed.” The labor fight has begun and life at Walmart will never be the same.

* Bill McKibben and the hundreds of protesters outside the White House in April who fought back and gained a temporary victory over the Keystone Pipeline. The hope remains that the energy created then will carry over to 2013 as the discussion of the pipeline returns. As McKibben reminded us: “The point is Election Day is no more important a political day than any other day on the calendar. It’s important, but so is every other day when you’ve got to get up and push whoever it is as hard as you can.”

* Thomas Linzey of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, who works with communities fighting back against every form of corporate takeover of local natural resources.“What gives us hope is that people are finally pulling their heads out of the regulatory quagmire.They have given up begging and pleading for regulatory agencies to do the right thing.They’ve given up asking corporations to do no harm.They’ve given up asking their elected officials to do something at the state and federal level and instead, they are beginning to take the law into their own hands.”

* And even in a sports culture dominated by money, greed, and a win-at-all-costs atmosphere, came the voice of one college player channeling the spirit of the indigenous peoples of the Hawaiian Islands. The No.1-ranked University of Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o explained why he came back for his senior year saying, when he died, he couldn’t take with him a Rolex watch, a big house or a car, but he could take with him memories of his friends and teammates. He said, “money is only paper.”Wisdom beyond his years.

Progressive voices became stronger, louder, and more unified in 2012;yet it is painfully obvious that they need to grow even more vocal in 2013.A working democracy requires active citizen participation– in our neighborhoods, our local communities, our state, our nation, and the world.

Use your voice (or your feet) in 2013 as if the life of the planet depended on it. And never forget the words of Robert F. Kennedy:

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Way to Go, Minnesotans!

Monday, November 19th, 2012

(By Joanne Boyer, cross-posted at Wisdom Voices)

It’s taken me a few days to just drink in the beauty of what happened here in Minnesota on Election Day 2012.  Lost in all the (legitimate) whoops and hollers of joy that resonated nation-wide, we here in Minnesota did something amazing.

Not only did we turn back a constitutional amendment on defining marriage as between one man and one woman, we romped and stomped on the “voter ID” amendment that was put on our ballot by a Republican legislator who is the Minnesota chairperson of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  That measure is nothing short of a victory of, by and for the people.  Never have I seen such hard work by a group called Our Vote/Our Future.  Minnesotans could never repay the debt of gratitude that is owed them.

This “voter ID” constitutional amendment started out at an 80 percent approval rating when it was first “introduced.”  Down the homestretch, this fabulous organization worked its collective butt off – hundreds of thousands of phone calls, door knocking, organizing and never, ever giving up hope that this horrible amendment could be defeated.

By the weekend before the election, the favorable rating for the “voter ID” amendment had dropped from 80 percent approval to 46 percent approval and it failed when Minnesotans went out and voted it down.

And as great as the work of one organization was, the individual work of former Republican Governor Arne Carlson cannot go unrecognized.  He was relentless in his efforts to educate Minnesotans about what this voter suppression was all about.  He traversed the state and gave unselfishly of his time and energy.

The individual and group efforts reminded me of something Sister Simone Campbell (Nuns on the Bus) said during an interview with us earlier this summer.

“I had a meeting with Paul Ryan, and he said the only reason he talks about individual responsibility and not about community is because the ‘other side’ talks about community,” Sister Simone said.  “But you see, I can talk about individual responsibility. We have an individual responsibility to build up community.  We are in relationship with everyone else. That’s how it works.”

Boy, did we prove that here in Minnesota.

Throw ‘Em an Anvil?

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

(By NCrissie B)

Last week Republican leaders, strategists, and rank and file activists began the struggle to unskew themselves in the wake of their electoral defeats on Tuesday. And on Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow wished them well in that struggle:

Yet many progressives have offered variations on a less charitable perspective. As a comment in a news story about the GOP’s struggle to learn the lessons of 2012 put it, “I hope they don’t learn anything. I like Democrats winning.”

As grassroots Democratic activists, should we hope Republicans learn real lessons from 2012 and become a more sensible, more productive opposition party? Or should we hope they learn nothing and continue to lose elections until they go extinct?

“The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

Mark Twain wrote those words in response to a rumor that spread after his cousin’s illness. And despite the wishes of some progressives, rumors of the Republican Party’s imminent demise are equally exaggerated.

While the GOP in their current form probably cannot win the White House in the foreseeable future – absent a Democratic scandal or a very week Democratic candidate – redistricting has all but assured them continued control of the U.S. House and they extended their majority among state governors. As the Republican Governors Association Chairman Bob McDonnell put it:

There’s no doubt that the Republican Party’s strength comes from the states, and the RGA’s ability to expand our majority provides optimism for the future.

Republicans also still dominate state legislatures, and GOP-led attacks on public employee unions and voter suppression laws prove that Republicans in state houses can hurt progressive policies as much as their colleagues in Congress.

Yesterday’s news that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the Voting Rights Act may signal that the Court will clear state Republicans to pass yet more laws to block Democratic voters. The Democrats’ growing demographic advantage means nothing if those demographics can’t vote, after all.

And Massey Energy CEO Robert Murray firing 156 workers in response to President Obama’s victory, although hardly the “massive layoffs across America” breathlessly headlined on Fox News, shows that Republican supporters still hold significant clout. It’s easy to shout “throw ‘em an anvil” … until they step aside and let the anvil land on hardworking American families.

Hubris

There’s another risk in the “throw ‘em an anvil” view of politics: it presumes Democrats have a monopoly on good ideas and problem-solving skills. While I obviously believe in the Democratic Party’s values – stated most briefly: “We the People” means all of us – I’m almost as wary of unchallenged Democratic government as I am of unchallenged Republican government.

History has shown that monopolies – in business or politics – breed ossification, corruption, and infighting. Fresh ideas to meet new challenges are dismissed in favor of “the way we’ve always done it.” Favors, rather than better solutions to problems in Realworldia, become the most important currency for continued power. Power blocs form and harden into internal dominance battles that serve no public good. To avoid those pitfalls, companies and political parties need competition that focuses their efforts on the needs of their customers or voters.

“Marketplace of Ideas”

But not every form of competition is beneficial. The savage partisan warfare waged by Republicans over the past four years, their willingness to pursue “protection racket politics” that threaten the public welfare for electoral advantage, their transformation into a party that is “ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition” does not serve the democratic ideal embodied in the phrase “marketplace of ideas.”

That marketplace, as Maddow noted, requires that both parties accept and weigh common facts. We can debate the best response to the threat of climate change, but not until Republicans accept that climate change is real. We can debate the scope of our social safety net, but not until Republicans recognize a social duty to care for each other in time of need. We can debate tax policy and the deficit, but not until Republicans admit that cutting taxes – with rates are at their current levels – will not magically spur growth and increase tax revenues. We can debate what levels of income inequality best balance work, education, and investment incentives, but not until Republicans admit our current income inequality is rending the social fabric of our nation.

Those debates are useful and necessary, but they cannot happen only within the Democratic Party. The Republicans’ inability to win the White House does not leave them unable to wreak havoc, and all the more so when the only reality-based policy debates happen within our party, fueling media narratives of “divided Democrats,” fraying our coalition, sapping our strength.

For the “marketplace of ideas” to work, Democrats need a sensible opposition party. We should celebrate and be encouraged by our victories Tuesday, but the “throw ‘em an anvil” mentality is beyond unseemly. It’s arrogant … and it’s bad for America.

(Crossposted from Blogistan Polytechnic Institute (BPICampus.com))

Republicans Continue to Insult America

Friday, November 16th, 2012

 

They think we’re stupid!

The declaration that Republican resistance to immigration reform alienated Latino voters merely scratches the surface of the reason the Republicans lost the election.

The delegitimizing and criminalizing narratives about President Obama and Latino “immigrants” reflected not only a politic of contempt, denunciation, and fear-mongering, but furthered the idea of some whites that no one has a right to live within these borders but them…”this is our country”… “let’s take our country back”.

Republicans wagered that they could indeed “take the country back” with “white only” votes and could therefore afford to marginalize and demonize every minority in the country.  It was calculated and deliberate….a southern strategy on steroids meant to inflame the passions of whites, alienate people of color and divide the country along racial lines.

It didn’t matter to Republicans that the insults and disregard they show the African-American president translates to all people of color.  But people of color throughout the nation were witnessing their  insults and wondering, if they choose to be openly and deliberately disrespectful to the man who holds the highest office in the world, what do they think of me?  If they will fight so fiercely to see that the president fails, how much success do they want for me?  If they believe the leader of the free world is a lazy “retard”, what do they think of my efforts?  If they are willing to sabotage the country in order to see him fail, what roadblocks will they erect for me?

Still others blame Republican losses on the dismissal of women’s issues and the “distraction” from the economy.  No doubt it was an element of their defeat, as well.  As they enacted laws to restrict and govern the reproductive rights of women, it became clear, their aims had little to do with “the sanctity of life”.

In fact, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) cited the real reason Republicans are against contraceptives,

“….Preventing babies from being born is not medicine….. that’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birth rate get down below replacement rate we’re a dying civilization.”

Republicans lost because they indulged in fear-mongering, believing America is so racially divided they could stoke those divisions  and “win back America” by dividing it even further.  They tried to disenfranchise minorities and poor whites with voter ID laws, gerrymandering, purging and every dirty trick they could devise. They’ve tried these tactics before.  Apparently, they forgot there have always been whites who locked arms with minorities to fight for the rights of “all” people.

Republicans lost because of their misguided views about science and climate change; because of their desire to withhold medical access to  millions of Americans.  They lost because they mock and demonize homosexuals.  They lost because they ran up the debt and  then refused to help fix it.  They lost because they laid off workers across the country, then spent four years yelling about the unemployment rate.  They lost because they protect the right of corporations to ship jobs overseas and dock their American-made profits there, as well.  They lost because they lie to the American people.  They lost because they think the electorate is stupid and they insult our intelligence.  They lost because the electorate is not for sale.

They lost because there really is such a thing as divine retribution.  How many votes were lost to illegitimate purging, registrations that were destroyed, thrown away, altered or unrecorded?  How many voters were rejected for lack of picture identification when none was required, or because voters names were left off the rolls?  How many votes were lost because people couldn’t wait in 8 hour lines because they had to report to work, pick a child up from school or the sitter?  How many votes were lost because of malfunctioning or broken equipment?  How many provisional and absentee ballots did they throw away or simply fail to count?   And the still lost!

There is no doubt in my mind President Obama won reelection by a vote tally that far exceeded 3 million.  They know it too.  They cheated so much, I can’t help but wonder, if in Minnesota where the electorate voted for a Democratic government and chose to reelect President Obama, loud-mouth, mendacious Michele Bachmann really won.

The only thing more amazing than the Republican miscalculation about “white power”, is their idea that they can now win back votes by merely flip-flopping overnight on the views they have espoused for the last five years.  But that alone will not heal the damage they have done, nor will supporting legislation they have disparaged for so long.  It will not change the minds of millions who were dishonored by their tactics.  This isn’t just a case of what they say or do…it is about what they believe.

Will Republicans Unskew Themselves?

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

(By NCrissie B)

The good news is that Dean Chambers, who admitted his assumptions about the 2012 electorate were skewed by Rasmussen models and wishful thinking and sort-of-apologized to the New York Times‘ Nate Silver, is at least more self-aware than Karl Rove. Rove’s on-air challenge when Fox News called Ohio and the election for President Obama quickly became comedy gold.

Never one to miss an opportunity to ingest his own toejam, Rove dined on his foot again yesterday:

Karl Rove told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on Thursday that President Obama won re-election “by suppressing the vote” with negative campaign ads that “turned off” potential voters, citing a victory that carried a smaller percentage of the popular vote compared to that of the 2008 presidential race.

UnSkewed … or UnSuppressed?

Seriously, Karl? After Republicans waged a nationwide campaign to limit voter registration, impose ever-stricter voter ID laws, and reduce early voting periods in what both a Pennsylvania legislator and the former chairman of the Florida Republican Party admitted was a partisan attempt to suppress likely Democratic voters, you accuse President Obama of “suppressing the vote” … by criticizing his opponent in campaign ads?

This is, of course, a classic Rove tactic of accusing your opponent of what you have been or will be accused of doing. And Rove, now having to defend his American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS SuperPAC spending to donors wondering aloud how their money was spent, may be flailing around for any gambit to save what remains of his reputation and his lucrative income stream.

Still, Rove’s response highlights a still-untold story about the 2012 election. Romney staffers said he was “shellshocked” by the results Tuesday night, and his lead pollster admitted his internal polling presumed an electorate more like the older, whiter turnout of the 2010 midterms. Were his, Rasmussen’s, and similar models based on a belief that 2008 was a high water mark for women, people of color, and young voters … or on a belief that Republicans’ aggressive voter suppression efforts would succeed?

Demographics and Beyond

Obama advisor David Axelrod said Republicans have “soul searcing to do as to whether they’re going to represent the United States of America as the United States of America is and not based on some 50-year-old model.”

But as Axelrod and Obama pollster Joel Benenson note, the lesson of 2012 is not merely America’s changing demographics:

The president’s victory was a triumph of vision, not of demographics. He won because he articulated a set of values that define an America that the majority of us wish to live in: A nation that makes the investments we need to strengthen and grow the middle class. A nation with a fair tax system, and affordable and excellent education for all its citizens. A nation that believes that we’re most prosperous when we recognize that we are all in it together.

Benenson notes that too many in the media, perhaps spurred by the Romney campaign’s insistence that 2012 would be referendum on President Obama, focused on cherry-picked data like unemployment, consumer confidence, and right/wrong track numbers. But Benenson had deeper data:

Such conventional indicators failed to capture the mind-set of the American people who always had a broader view of the nation’s economic situation and what had happened to their lives. A national survey of 800 voters conducted by our firm – not for the Obama campaign – during the final weekend before Tuesday’s vote, confirmed that a clear majority of Americans viewed this election in the context of the scale of the economic crisis we faced and the deep recession that ensued.

Two key data points illustrate why Americans were always far more open to President Obama’s message and accomplishments than commentators assumed. By a three to one margin (74 percent to 23 percent), voters said that what the country faced since 2008 was an “extraordinary crisis more severe than we’ve seen in decades” as opposed to “a typical recession that the country has every several years.” At the same time, a clear majority, 57 percent, believed that the problems we faced after the crisis were “too severe for anyone to fix in a single term,” while only 4 in 10 voters believed another president would have been able to do more than Mr. Obama to get the economy moving in the past four years.

Simply, American voters were smarter than Republican strategists hoped. Or, if those strategists truly believed their own story of President Obama’s first-term failure, the voters were smarter than the strategists themselves.

“We the People”

Republicans lost the White House and seats in both the Senate and House because their platform of wealth, white, heterosexual, Christian, male privilege – what Fox News‘ Bill O’Reilly called “traditional America” – is out of step with the American electorate.

Exit polls showed a majority of Americans favor tax increases to reduce our deficit and invest in our future. The election was also a banner day for LGBT equality and a backlash against the GOP’s war on women. Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison won a fourth term with 65% of the vote, despite repeated attempts – including those by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) – to smear Ellison’s Muslim faith. In Arkansas, as Politicususa‘s Sarah Jones quipped, “A Neo-Confederate, a slavery apologist and a death penalty for children advocate walk into an election … and lose big.

The 2012 election was about more than skewed polls and demographic margins. It was about ideas and values, and a majority of American voters chose progressive Democratic ideas and values. As MSNBC’s Martin Bashir put it, “Hate lost.”

If Republicans can unskew themselves from that, we can not only have a more productive political dialogue. We can also create “a more perfect Union” where “We the People” … means all of us.

(Crossposted from Blogistan Polytechnic Institute (BPICampus.com))

Election Day Stories – GOTVing in West Philly

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

As we’ve detailed, progressives won a long list of important victories at the federal, state, and local levels in last week’s elections.  And most impressively, these victories came in the face of a number of a number of significant hurdles, including the GOP’s largely successful cynical strategy of holding the economy down in order to improve their electoral fortunes, hundreds of millions of dollars or more of spending by shadowy conservative SuperPACs, a concerted voter suppression effort by conservatives groups and elected officials in key states such as Ohio and Florida, and the fact that Democrats had 21 Senate seats to defend compared to only 9 for the GOP.

There are many reasons that we were successful last week despite these hurdles.  President Obama and the Democrats managed to raise a lot of money of their own (though less than the GOP and their conservative SuperPACs).  Mitt Romney was an unlikeable candidate and his campaign was poorly run. President Obama and Congressional Democrats had a good track record of accomplishments to run on and the economy was slowly trending upwards.  And leading GOP candidates, such as Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, made truly offensive comments that helped illustrate just how out of touch today’s conservative movement is with mainstream America.

But perhaps the biggest key to victory, at least at the Presidential level, was the Obama campaign’s superior ground game. With a community organizer at the helm, it is perhaps not surprising that President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign had spent nearly four years putting together a top-notch voter contact and mobilization effort as the core part of their strategy.  The campaign ended up making 125 million personalized voter contacts, which was twice as many as Romney’s campaign, and had two to three times as many local campaign offices as did the Romney campaign.

Winning Progressive had the opportunity to help run the Obama campaign’s ground game in a neighborhood in Philadelphia for the final four-day GOTV push.  That GOTV push focused on three things – reminding people to vote, helping people get to their polling places, and making sure people were allowed to vote.  WP’s involvement provided a useful reminder of just how a good ground game can benefit a campaign.

WP was assigned to a GOTV staging location in Haddington, a working class African American neighborhood on the west side of Philadelphia.  From that office, we spent the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before the election overseeing a phone bank and canvassing operation targeted at contacting infrequent Democratic voters (i.e., people who had voted in 2008 but not since then) to show up at the polls on Election Day (Pennsylvania does not have early voting).  During the days we would get volunteers turf to walk with a script to talk with voters or door hangers for people who were not home.  And at night, we would process the data from that day to whittle down our phone and canvassing lists, input new volunteers or people who said they would need a ride to the polls, and prepare our lists for the next day.  Every targeted door in our area was contacted at least twice in those final three days.  On Election Day, the canvassing and phone banking continued, and to it was added the tasks of helping people find out where their polling place was, assisting them in getting there, and responding to reports of poll workers who were failing to allow eligible voters vote.

The hours were long, but it was more than worth it.  For one thing, helping people participate in our democratic system is truly inspiring.  For example, WP will never forget the woman who was blind and in a wheelchair who came to the Obama campaign office with her caregiver, asked for a canvassing packet, and returned two hours later after the two of them had put up more than 100 door hangers.  We were also amazed by the dozens of people from New York City and areas of New Jersey that had been devastated by Hurricane Sandy just the week before who still managed to make it to Philadelphia to help turn out the vote.  And on Election Day, we were truly inspired by the 98-year-old African American woman who was walking very slowly hand-in-hand with her 95-year-old husband telling everyone she saw how determined and proud she was to be voting to re-elect President Obama.  Given the decades of discrimination she had lived through, WP can only imagine how important that moment was for her.

The work was also more than worth it because it was clear that we were making an impact in getting Obama voters to the polls and their votes counted.  Dozens of people came to our staging location on Election Day to find out where their polling place was.  On the morning of Election Day, there were widespread reports that voters in Philadelphia had received a text message falsely telling them that voting a straight Democratic ticket would not count for President Obama unless they also voted for him separately.  (In reality, doing so would have cancelled out the Obama vote).  So we spent much of the morning telling people in line to vote that the text message was false.  And there was significant confusion at the polls due to the fact that (1) not all of the election workers understood that the state’s voter ID law had been suspended, and (2) the county board of elections had not gotten the names of people who had registered to vote in the last few weeks before the deadline onto the voter roll at each polling location.  When we received reports of voters being wrongly turned away by election workers due to these issues, we were able to quickly respond, inform the election workers of the rules, and insist that people at least be allowed to cast provisional ballots.

In the end, of course, our efforts were more than worthwhile because we won handily both nationwide and in Philadelphia. WP closed a polling location with three precincts at a school that Romney had visited on a campaign stop.  The final vote tally in those three precincts was 1,320 votes for President Obama and 9 for Romney!  And in 59 precincts in Philadelphia, Romney received zero votes.

Increased participation and grassroots organizing will be the keys to defeating the forces of big money that are trying to buy our government.  The Obama campaign showed once again that organizing can work.  We hope that our Election Day stories will inspire more folks to get involved as we gear up for the 2014 elections and beyond.