Project Team Members React to Obama’s Win

Oct
29
2008

Frances Kunreuther – New York, New York
What a stunning historic moment.

Last night it all happened so fast that I could hardly believe it when they projected that Obama would be the winner. Our guests screamed, drank champagne, and then hit the streets where horns honked, people hugged, and there was dancing in the street. 

Later, after McCain’s concession speech and Obama’s moving acceptance, those of us left went back out where revelers still partying til the wee hours when we went inside to sleep.

Congratulations to all!

Linda Campbell – Detroit, Michigan
I worked the polls as a Challenger for the NAACP at a local middle school here in Detroit where they experienced record turnouts especially with young people – the fewer than 30 group especially young African American males. Lots of emotion among older people and cross-generational families showing up.  It was incredible the patience and respect that people were showing to one another.  

I am told that the crowds in downtown Detroit went wild once the election was announced for Obama and that this weekend will be a time of joy and celebration.  When looking closely at the Michigan map, Barack won Detroit, Wayne County, Oakland County (traditionally moneyed Republican stronghold just north of Detroit) and Macomb County which has been a stronghold of the Reagan Democrats for years!  He also won in Upper Peninsula counties as well.  Quite impressive! 

I think Michigan is emerging from a long, long winter of right-wing conservative domination—two major Republican congressmen who both voted against expansion of the state child health insurance program as an example of their conservatism, bit the dust; and both propositions—stem cell research and access to medical marijuana won handily by 2 to 1 margin.  

I know it will take a long time to get things back on track in this country and it will not happen overnight – but as in our building movement work when we speak about having a vision for change – the work of the next four years now seems worth fighting for. I think yesterday especially demonstrated the need for and the impact of grassroots citizen power.  

Robby Rodriguez – Albuquerque, New Mexico
People who describe themselves as democrats, moderates, liberals, progressives and leftists have all been working for the past 4 or 5 years on affecting state and national electoral politics.  They have concentrated on messaging, policy initiatives, registration and get out the vote efforts among others.  They have all had different goals and objectives for this work.  For some, their work is done.  This country now has a democrat in the white house and a democrat controlled congress.  Others see a new opportunity.  

I’m not sure what this means for us at South West Organizing Project (SWOP).  Over the past week, I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors and made hundreds of phone calls to Albuquerque’s most unlikely voters.  I heard and saw things I’ve never heard and seen.  For some of these people, the cynicism of electoral politics still exists.  But for many more, the cynicism has suspended.  People believe in Barack Obama.  They want real change.  And they came out in huge numbers to support him and defend him against the Republican attacks.  

I saw people engaged and excited that I thought we might never get involved.  Of course, we have heard about the impact that young people, independents, immigrants and others had on the election.  We haven’t heard about the folks who are in and out of jail and who have tattoos on their neck and face.  The folks whose homes look like nobody lives there because the windows are broken and the roof looks like it is going to cave in.  The folks who are 50 some years old and never voted in an election before. And they were voting for Obama.  

We all know that this election is historic.  People will remember what happened on Tuesday and where they were and what they were doing forever.  But I think it is important that we know that the election couldn’t be about the politicians.  This election couldn’t have been about Barack Obama or John McCain.  It had to be about us.  I believe more than ever that democracy doesn’t end on Election Day.  Our challenge now is how we keep hope alive and make change real.  Do we have a chance to make the theme of the US social forum real—if another world is possible, another us is necessary?  

Helen Kim – Oakland, Californa
I learned of Obama’s win when I was driving into the Santa Cruz Mountains without a radio signal to be found. A friend called on my cell phone and yelled into my ear “HE WON!”

Since CA is such a solid blue state, I worked the phones to call voters in Ohio and Virginia.  I also participated in phone-banking to Korean Americans in these swing states using a conventional call list emailed to me by OH Asian Americans for Obama and logged onto the votebuilder.com site provided by VA Asian Americans for Obama chapters.  I talked at lengths with many Koreans who believed Obama wasn’t Christian but also talked with people who already voted for Obama because they were really worried about the economy. They were startled by getting so many phone calls and many did not want to tell me whom they supported…these (mostly English) calls jarred their limited English speaking sensibility and recalled their times living in a repressed country where you were warned not to reveal your cards. I assured them they just had to wait one more day and the phone calls will stop, and that they really have nothing to worry about when they tell whom they voted for.

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