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Blue Army: No Turning Back

The opinion polls say we have an advantage, but none of it is real unless we close the deal.  With just 26 days til the election, it's time to act.  There's no turning back.

In a minute, I'd like you to hear from FDL community member and regular commenter, Nefarious Leslie, on her experiences with the volunteer portal I've been telling you about for weeks, Do More Than Vote (DMTV).  But first, for those of you ready to enlist this week, here's how you can get involved during these last, critical 26 days before the election.  (The following is adapted from our inaugural Blue Army feature from this time last week):

  • Contact Do More Than Vote and use their easy interface to get connected to the right volunteer organization for you in your area.  And by the way, DMTV has been put together by people just like you, and they could use some well earned donations for building all this amazing infrastructure on their own.  Use their ActBlue link to send them some love.  (Ahem:  now, please!).  They're currently at $1,323.34 $1,873.34.  Can we push that to at least $2500.00 today?  These are netroots volunteers who built this:  people like you who just decided they needed to do something.  No one backed or financed them.
  • Volunteer to become a poll worker.  No bitching about fairness at the polls:  become part of the solution.  Go here.
  • Volunteer for Howard Dean's new army through your local Democratic Party.
  • Make sure you're registered to vote and harrass your sympathetic friends to register.  You can do it online in mere minutes.  Stoller tells you how.  This link is a week old now so be sure the deadlines have not come and gone in your state.
  • Review any of the many links and options Christy offered you last week.  If you can't find something to do from there, you're not looking.  No time to waste:  pick one of these options to enlist!

Now, let's hear from Nefarious Leslie.  As you read this, please think to yourself, "Could this be me, if only I but choose to take that first step?"  She got started a while ago, and has stayed very active, but we don't need everyone to become as active as she is.  We do need a lot of people to do at least a little bit:

I first learned about Drinking Liberally when Pach did his initial post on them, and the idea excited me right away. I was one of the Dean people, politically speaking – I'd been largely AWOL from the political process, thinking, much as Glenn Greenwald has said, that our system of Constitutional checks and balances would keep things running more or less smoothly – and besides, all those politicians were pretty much the same.

The events of the 2000 election changed my mind about that. By late 2002/early 2003, when it became clear that we were going into Iraq, I started hearing about Howard Dean's speeches. So I started researching him and his positions; I didn't agree with all of them, but he was the only one standing up and speaking out, and I loved his emphasis on preventive public health services and taking care of kids before problems get started. In the course of my research, I found the original DFA blog; a couple of days later, they linked to Daily Kos.

In short order, I was a blog-addicted, money-donating, phone-banking citizen trying to take my country back. I went to meetings; I walked door-to-door; I gave more money that I couldn't afford to give. My June 2003 primary vote went to John Edwards, and then I worked for him and John Kerry in the general election. I did a lot of phone banking to Ohio, and talked to a lot of great people in the heartland who wanted a change. I'm sure I don't need to tell any of you how depressed I was after November 2004.

I kept going, eventually, because giving up was not an option. Somewhere along the line, I joined the board of my local ACLU. I worked on local candidates and issues and the California special election. I became a coordinator for Drinking Liberally. I kept reading blogs, and discovered Firedoglake, which quickly became my first stop in the blogosphere. When Pach announced the Roots Project, I signed up for that. And then one day, there was Pach's post about Do More Than Vote. It seemed like a real no-brainer, in terms of being a really logical, helpful way to organize volunteer opportunities and make it easy for people to plug into campaigns in their area. So as soon as I finished reading the post, I sent an email to the Do More Than Vote organization, asking what would be involved in helping set up a page.

The next day, I got an email back from George at DMTV. He apologized for not getting back to me right away; they'd had such a great response that it took a while to respond to everyone. George explained to me that setting up and maintaining a DMTV page for a city occurred in three phases; initial setup, maintenance, and promotion. He said that my involvement, or level of involvement, was optional for each phase, depending on how much time I had to give, and that they would help me every step of the way. The first phase, gathering information about local campaigns, shouldn't take me more than 2-3 hours. All I had to do was send the information to him, and he would input it into their template.

Okay, I thought; I can do that. I was fortunate in that Sacramento has an active Democracy for America chapter, and they had links to local candidates' campaigns, so that saved me a few minutes of Googling. I started calling the campaigns, explaining who I was and what I was doing. Did they have any regular, recurring volunteer opportunities I could list on the DMTV website for them? Everyone I spoke to was polite, friendly, and delighted to hear that this was going on. Before long, I had names, contact numbers, addresses for campaign headquarters, and a list of ongoing opportunities for several campaigns.

I sent the information to George, and soon he let me know that the page was up and ready for viewing. I looked at the pages for the other cities that were there, too – at that point there were only a few, since Sacramento was the third or fourth city to have its page go up. But I noticed that some of them had listings of local radio stations, for anyone who wanted to call in to right-wing talk radio shows and present a reality-based viewpoint. So I Googled local radio stations, and sent that information in too. The total amount of time I spent on all this information-gathering was around three hours, so even with my busy work schedule, it was very do-able.

I don't want to embarrass George, but I just have to say that he's terrific. He was there to answer any questions I had, and his enthusiasm was infectious. He made the whole thing as easy as it could be, and fun besides.

Now that we're to the promotion stage, I'm going to be distributing some half-page flyers to local progressive groups so we can all spread the word about DMTV. I'm really glad to have been a small part of helping this happen. It's great to see all the other cities that have their pages up now, but I'd like to see a lot more of them, because this is such a fantastic tool for helping campaigns. As I work to help Charlie Brown and other candidates get elected in November, I'll keep telling people about DMTV.

The DMTV operation is not rocket science, but it provides people with an easy, simple gateway to help them become involved locally, while determining for themselves at the outset how much time they can invest.  Winning in politics is not really rocket science, and consultants who amp up their reputations as "geniuses" are just pulling a P. T. Barnum on candidates' wallets.  Winning in politics is mostly about getting lots of passionate people organized and involved enough to make a difference.  My admiration and thanks to Nefarious Leslie for all she's done, and that goes for all of you in this community and the comments section who, in your own way, are doing the same.

Please share in the comments section any experiences you've had getting involved.  For those who are unsure what to do, everyone, please be welcoming and gentle to those who are just wondering, unsure if they can commit.  For those of you activist warriors with experience, please use this discussion thread to share ideas, best practices, success stories, or whatever you like. Oh, and please give mad props to our own fabulous Nefarious Leslie!

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Pachacutec did not, as is commonly believed, die in 1471. To escape the tragic sight of his successors screwing up the Inca Empire he’d built, he fled east into the Amazon rain forest, where he began chewing lots of funky roots to get higher than Hunter Thompson ever dared. Oddly, these roots gave him not only a killer buzz, but also prolonged his life beyond what any other mortal has known, excluding Novakula. Whatever his doubts of the utility of living long enough to see old friends pop up in museums as mummies, or witness the bizarrely compelling spectacle of Katherine Harris, he’s learned a thing or two along the way. For one thing, he’s learned the importance of not letting morons run a country, having watched the Inca Empire suffer many civil wars requiring the eventual ruler to gain support from the priests and the national military. He now works during fleeting sober moments to build a vibrant progressive movement sufficiently strong and sustainable to drive a pointed stake through the heart of American “conservatism” forever. He enjoys a gay marriage, classic jazz and roots for the New York Mets.