Sunday, September 14, 2008

Election Focus: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!
Open Letter to Politicos and Millynneum Insight Blog Fans*

During a recent BPRSNY event here in NYC, CNN Analyst and Political Operative Jamal Simmons (President, New Future Communications) offered “behind the scenes” insight on his fascinating career in governmental affairs and revealed what PR pros can do to get out the vote during this historic Presidential Election year! Tips include:

> Encourage people to vote early (before work)—particularly in precincts of color where heavy turnout is expected due to the > Be prepared to “wait it out” … there may be long lines;

> Check the weather … take an umbrella;

> Help seniors and others obtain absentee ballots if they can’t make it to the polls;

> Drive or accompany friends and relatives to the polls … take a day off (if possible);

> Understand the issues and candidates’ positions (see websites);

> Make your views known via posts on mainstream blogs like The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Talking Points Memo;

> Political journalists and producers track these blogs for hot topics … if you feel there’s an important election issue that should be covered—start blogging

*Share this post and link with everyone you know:

Here’s a recent Huffington Post gem that touts ways to enhance your “Get Out the Vote” strategy! Take heed, believe and get the job done. We all can have an important impact on this election and the future of our communities. Get your mind in the mix and step up your game.

Frightened by McCain’s Post-Convention Bounce?
Three Things You Can do to Personally Affect the Outcome of the Election

By Robert Creamer :: The Huffington Post :: Posted September 9, 2008 | 01:32 PM (EST)

Over the last couple of days I've received more calls and emails than I can count from people with fear in their voices. They want to know what to make of McCain's post- convention bounce in the polls. They want to know if Obama can still win. Most of all they want to know what they can do to help.

McCain's post-convention bounce resulted from two factors:

First, was three days of the Republican Convention, during which large numbers of viewers watched Republicans and fellow travelers like Joe Lieberman repeatedly deliver a carefully crafted message. They blasted Obama. They postured about change. Their kids looked adorable. Subject anyone to largely one-sided messaging for a week and some will be convinced. Some of that will stick; much will disappear as memories of that experience fades.

Second - and more importantly - McCain's pick of Sarah Palin moved a lot of white women. The Washington Post poll released today showed white women shifting from an eight-point pre-convention lead for Obama to a 12-point McCain advantage.

What does this mean for the outcome of the race?

The race today is about even, with McCain having a slight advantage in the popular vote, and Obama having an advantage in electoral votes. The effect of exposure to the convention itself will likely diminish over the next several weeks. In 2004, Bush moved to a nine-point lead after his convention and most of that gap disappeared within a few weeks.

The long-term effect of the Palin factor is less certain. Much depends on what all of us choose to do now.

There are about ten likely electoral vote scenarios that could develop in this race. In eight of them, Obama is the winner. The underlying desire for change, and the overall disgust with the Bush-Republican administration of the last eight years, is just as real as ever. The website employs a sophisticated projection model to predict electoral outcomes, and it still gives 61.2% odds that Obama will win in November.

But this week's polling numbers have certainly given a wakeup call to lots of Progressives who might have become complacent in their views that Obama's victory was a lock.

What did we think - that the gang who has run this country for the last eight years would simply roll over and surrender without a fight? These guys are very good at running elections and they will bite and claw and gouge eyes to win.

Luckily, we don't have to just sit by and watch from the sidelines, and hope that someone else makes the right call or runs the right TV spots.

There are three steps that every one of us can take that will actually impact directly the ultimate outcome of this race.

1). Remember that you are Obama's best campaign commercial. Obama made a good deal of progress at his own convention in convincing swing voters he is not just an agent for change, but a "safe" choice. But there are still a lot of voters who worry about Obama. They aren't really too worried if he is "experienced" enough (though they may say so). The movement of white women to Sarah Palin should put an end to any thought that "experience" is the main issue. They are worried if he will "safely be on their side."

The message that is most persuasive at convincing someone that Obama is "safely on their side" is having someone who is like them talk to them about why they support Obama - and why they are against McCain-Palin. "If Mary or Sarah likes Obama I guess he must be OK."

If you want to help win this election, it means you might have to break the "taboo's" about not talking about politics with your neighbor or your co-worker. It means you have to bring up the campaign over the lunch table or the backyard fence. It means you can't just go along when someone says something like "Palin is such a breath of fresh air." No, you must tell them, actually she's never been for "reform" and she embraces all of the economic policies that allow big companies to make tons of money while incomes of people like us fall.

Want to make calls to swing voters like you in swing states? The Obama campaign can hook you up with lists to call and get a report from you on the outcome through their website, And don't feel like the conversations you have are just a drop in the bucket. There will be hundreds of thousands of other volunteers around America who will be doing the same thing.

2). Don't unwittingly contribute to their narrative. Most swing voters aren't excessively focused on "experience." They think the gang with lots of experience has done a pretty crummy job, at least for them. They want someone who is "on their side." One reason that many white women like and identify with Palin - at least at first blush - is because they think she identifies with them.

When Progressives make "elitist" attacks on Palin, they just reinforce the right wing narrative that the "Elitist Eastern Establishment" is the problem. Don't patronize the very people we are trying to convince.

From most people's points of view, the problem with the McCain-Palin ticket isn't so much that Palin is from a small town in rural Alaska and hasn't got the experience to run the country. The arguement that is convincing to normal people is that neither McCain nor Palin are what they claim to be - reformers or agents of change. Their campaign is being run by lobbyists for the biggest corporate interests in America--the same people who ran the Bush campaign. And they are committed to the economic policies that make average people's incomes drop and reward the very rich.

McCain and Palin act as though they identify with the interests of the guys in the NASCAR grandstand and the women at the PTA - but they are doing the bidding of the guys from Wall Street and the women wearing $4,500 outfits like the one Cindy McCain donned for the Republican Convention.

Our assault on McCain and Palin must never be done from an elitist perspective, but from a populist perspective.

3). Take personal responsibility to win this election. More than any election in modern political history, this election will be decided by the work of millions of people who talk to their neighbors, make small donations on the internet and - most importantly - demand that every voter go out to vote.

And I mean demand that every voter go to the polls. To win, we need to change the electorate. In this election, friends don't let friends not vote. There is too much at stake. The damage of another four years of Bush-McCain economic and foreign policy would be catastrophic for the future of our children, and children all over the world.

The key point is this: don't just whine to your friends about what the campaign should do, or the party should do, or the candidate should do. Take personal responsibility to do the two things that will win: persuade swing voters, and mobilize voters who won't vote unless they are motivated to do so.

The Obama campaign has the best field operation in the history of presidential politics. Join it. Take an assignment. Make contributions on the Internet. Hold a fundraiser. Write a letter to the editor. Most important: don't sit on the sidelines.

The recent polls should provide a call to arms to everyone who wants change in America or believes in progressive values.

Don't think what you do is inconsequential or can't affect the outcome. My firm, the Strategic Consulting Group, ran the field operation for a wonderful congressional candidate in south Florida in 2000. We did a great job. We knocked on every door. We pulled out lots of votes. But we lost by 550 votes. It was the same 550 votes that beat Al Gore and gave us George Bush.

If we had just dragged out one more Democrat per precinct in the closing hours of that Election Day, America would have been spared the nightmare of the last eight years. Each of us could decide the outcome of this election, too.

In 2008, Progressives in America are presented with an unprecedented opportunity to fundamentally change the direction of American politics. As I argued in my book, Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, we could be on the verge of a new progressive era in America. If we win, progressives will be able to take the offensive and reshape the political and economic structures of our society for the first time in four decades. We can come out of our defensive crouch and help shape a democratic society infused with progressive values, with the fundamental principle that "we're all in this together" not "all in this alone."

But to have that opportunity we have to win - and winning requires that we all stand up now and take the future into our own hands. The game is on. Get out of the stands and onto the field, into the arena. The work we do over the next 56 days could be the most important that any of us will do in our lives. Let's not miss this precious opportunity to make history.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on

Saturday, September 13, 2008

“The Code” of Politics, Class and Cultural Conflict

Politics is a brutal game. Folks often speak in code. While I have my own strident views, sometimes it’s more prudent to help others spread their messages. Following are thoughts on what I believe is “backward” Republican thinking.

My goal: to help you “crack the code.”

The good news is nearly everyone’s talking politics. Say what you will and support who you want, but this … my friends … is a very good thing.

Wise minds understand issues and challenge fiction with facts. Discuss the election not only among like minds, but reach out and challenge those whose worldview differs from your own. Watch the competition and learn to understand how they think.

Only then … can you win at the “chess game” of politics and civic affairs.

If this election doesn’t challenge us all to get off our duffs, then what will? Use your voice and your vote to participate and sway the national conversation and outcome.

“The Code” of cultural and class warfare is a powerful tool to keep us at odds with each other.

Understand what’s at stake and vote to “Remake Americain a contemporary fresh image. Change the conversation to include both coasts, all races, north and south, urban and rural.

If not, we could embark on another brutal “Culture and Class War”, with enslaved minds, backward thinking and a lack of freedom-oriented, forward action.

The Civil War was not pretty and there’s no need to shed more American blood (or time) over the pettiness of “us” vs. “them.” As Americans, let’s learn from our mistakes and take a great leap forward. We’ve embraced the unknown before—and look what a great country our ancestors built.

Let’s celebrate our differences and play to our strengths in order to win the global game, instead of participating in the madness of devisive, separatist thinking.

This link comes from communications colleague Nelsena Burt:

> 100,000 + posts so far
> Join the conversation

These following two humorous and “biting tidbits” are widely circulating on the Internet; everyone knows how I am about attribution!


"Speaking of Sarah Palin, she said she's a life-long member of the National Rifle Association. Which may explain why she's in favor of shotgun weddings." -- Conan O'Brien

Source: Unknown … but a definite keeper!

The beauty of this post is that we’ve all participated in similar conversations over the past two weeks since Sarah Palin’s selection as the Republican VP nominee. It’s important to put our “American Selves” out there. Real change comes when you discuss the issues and ask tough questions while devising real solutions.

If you're a conservative and you're selected for a job over more qualified candidates you're a 'game changer.'

Black teen pregnancies? A 'crisis' in black America.
White teen pregnancies? A 'blessed event.'

If you grow up in Hawaii you're 'exotic.'
ow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you're the quintessential American story.'

Similarly, if you name your kid Barack you're 'unpatriotic.'
Name your kid Track, you're 'colorful.'

If you're a Democrat and you make a VP pick without fully vetting the
individual you're 'reckless.' A Republican who doesn't fully vet is a maverick.'

If you spend 3 years as a community organizer growing your organization from a staff of 1 to 13 and your budget from $70,000 to $400,000, then become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new African American voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, then spend nearly 8 more years as a State Senator
representing a district with over 750,000 people, becoming chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, then spend nearly 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of nearly 13 million people, sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you are woefully inexperienced.

If you spend 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, then spend 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, you've got the most executive experience of anyone on either ticket, are the Commander in Chief of the Alaska military and are well qualified
to lead the nation should you be called upon to do so because your state is the closest state to Russia.

If you are a Democratic male candidate who is popular with millions of people you are an 'arrogant celebrity'. If you are a popular Republican female candidate you are 'energizing the base'.

If you are a younger male candidate who thinks for himself and makes his own decisions you are 'presumptuous'. If you are an older male candidate who makes last minute decisions you refuse to explain, you are a 'shoot from the hip' maverick.

If you are a candidate with a Harvard law degree you are 'an elitist 'out of touch' with the real America. If you are a legacy (dad and granddad were admirals) graduate of Annapolis, with multiple disciplinary infractions you are a hero.

If you manage a multi-million dollar nationwide campaign, you are an 'empty suit’. If you are a part time mayor of a town of 7,000 people, you are an 'experienced executive'.

If you go to a south side
Chicago church, your beliefs are 'extremist'.
If you believe in creationism and don't believe global warming is man
made, you are 'strongly principled'.

If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your
disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years with whom
you are raising 2 beautiful daughters you're 'risky'.

If you're a black single mother of 4 who waits for 22 hours after her
water breaks to seek medical attention, you're an irresponsible parent,
endangering the life of your unborn child.

But if you're a white married mother who waits 22 hours, you're spunky.

If you're a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton, the right-wing press calls you 'First dog.'
If you're a 17-year old pregnant unwed daughter of a Republican, the right-wing press calls you 'beautiful' and 'courageous.'

If you kill an endangered species, you're an excellent hunter.
If you have an abortion you're not a Christian, you're a murderer
(forget about if it happen while being date raped)

If you teach abstinence only in sex education, you get teen parents.
If you teach responsible age appropriate sex education, including the
proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

This brilliant piece forwarded by communications colleague Fern Gillespie:

Obama and The Palin Effect
From: Deepak Chopra | Posted: Friday, September 5th, 2008

Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in MinneapolisAlaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin's pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of "the other." For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don't want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.)

I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.

Look at what she stands for:

--Small town values -- a denial of America's global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.

Ignorance of world affairs -- a repudiation of the need to repair America's image abroad.

Family values -- a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don't need to be heeded.

Rigid stands on guns and abortion -- a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.

Patriotism -- the usual fallback in a failed war.

"Reform" -- an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn't fit your ideology.

Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from "us" pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of "I'm all right, Jack," and "Why change? Everything's OK as it is." The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.

Obama's call for higher ideals in politics can't be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow -- we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.