During the 2012 holiday season, I received a multitude of Barack Obama souvenir items as gifts from family and friends.
My daughter sent red, white and blue Obama Mardi Gras beads from New Orleans. Her young man sent a Barack Obama Bobblehead doll.
My brother sent a stand-up Obama card with some stickers and a really nice note.
My BFF (best friend forever) from high school sent Maira Kalman’s wonderful book, And the Pursuit of Happiness, in which Kalman celebrates Obama’s 2008 election.
I bought myself the TIME Magazine 2012 Person of the Year issue.
The swag was great, and I was warmed and humbled by the gifts from friends and family. Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I tend to be outspoken about political issues that matter to me, namely the environment, women’s issues, civil rights, peace on earth.
Re-electing the President mattered to me, too. He is the President of my own generation. I relate to him ideologically and to his life experience. I admire him for his brilliant intelligence and family values. I trust him to do the right thing with the right issues, for all the right reasons. I re-engaged with Obama for America over a year ahead of the election.
As an experienced online marketer and analyst, I sensed early that Obama had the support he needed to win and that the real challenge was going to be motivating his supporters to actually get to the polls and vote.
The President, Campaign Manager Jim Messina, and other campaign leaders had already figured that part out. By the time I joined up, efforts were already in force to build the web of support needed nationally, both online and offline, to make the win happen.
For my part, I took getting out the vote among my own small circle as a personal responsibility, hoping that every friend and relative I reached would likewise reach many others more.
I trusted this basic principle of social marketing implicitly, nobly striving to inspire, inform and rally. I saturated my Facebook feed and Tumblr blog with post after post about the President; sent private messages to my trusted list; urged my friends and family to vote for the President; badgered even those who were already on board.
I also worked a huge volume of campaign hours nights and weekends, wrapped around my high-stress day job. I hosted multiple team events at my house, and lugged my laptop to many others to provide data support and training where needed. I’m averse to driving in the city, so I walked, rode the bus, bummed rides and called cabs – whatever was required – to get where I needed to go.
Do I make all this sound like I was one of the greatest volunteers of all time, well deserving of the gifts I received as a consequence of all my badgering?
I was not any such person.
I was just like every other one of the 2.2 million people who stepped up to help re-elect the President.
Yes, you are reading this right. 2.2 million men, women and kids volunteered.
In the wake of years of skeptical, often cynical media coverage and hostile Republican spin, the warm welcomes, the constant thanks, the never-ending positive reinforcement that we volunteers received is one reason – possibly the major reason – the Obama campaign was such a success.
To me the number 2.2 million is awesome for an entirely differently reason, however.
Turns out, according to Fortune Magazine, only Wal-Mart employs as many people as volunteered for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. All other giant corporations fall well short. This phenomenon alone is testament to President Obama’s executive qualifications.
More awesome is that Obama for America built its massive organization in less than two years; and that most of us who worked, did so for free – no wages, no benefits, no perks. In fact, many, like me, donated money to the campaign while we volunteered.
We all got a pretty big bonus at the end of the year, however: the President won, by almost five million individual votes and 126 electoral votes. As of today, he’s now officially sworn in for the next four years.I plotted this article while picking up trash at Venice Beach for my National Day of Service contribution to Inauguration weekend. At some point in my musings, I recalled a document I saw at my old grandad’s house back in the late ’70s – his personal invitation to the Inauguration of President Jimmy Carter in 1977.
President Carter was the first President to receive my vote. I was impressed that Grandad had been invited, impressed that he voted for Carter, too, but not surprised. Grandad was born into one of the State of Georgia’s founding families, so sending a fellow Georgian to the White House would have meant a great deal to him for that reason alone.
Several of the people I worked with at OFA will be at the 2012 Inauguration live, possibly even at the ball. I will be happily following via my trusty laptop.
I know I sound a lot like Pollyanna as I write all this, but that’s what the “Hopey-Changey” thing is all about, isn’t it?
I’m humbled and honored to be one of the 2.2 million who worked the campaign, one of the 128,553,859 who voted, one of the 65,444,241 who voted for the President.
I think votes are amazing, because each and every one truly does make a difference. One vote more or less in every precinct in any given election can swing it one way or the other if the line ever becomes so fine.
Congratulations on the power and breadth of your swing, Mr. President.