Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Real Headquarters Story

This is not a story about people getting arrested at Democratic Party headquarters in Des Moines.

It's about the phone call I got about an hour or so before that.

It was GOTC (Get Out The Caucus) Day at Obama headquarters and phone banks across the state. A rookie volunteer called me from the Iowa City office, on her own cell phone. She didn't know I was the Number Four Political Blogger In Iowa (I guess I'm number three now that Iowa Independent died) with as many as tens of readers. She just wanted to ask me in all sincerity if I would be attending my caucus for President Obama.

I assured her I was, took a moment to thank her for doing the real work of the campaign, and let her move on to more important calls.

The zeitgeist of 2008 didn't just happen. It was hard work, one phone call at a time. "Plan the work, then work the plan," my friend Sue Dvorsky says. And Team Obama is working the plan.

Blog for Iowa's Trish Nelson phone banking in Iowa City today.

Change is not easy, Obama cautioned us in that exciting year of Hope. It's hard work, it doesn't happen overnight. And frustration is understandable. Barack Obama wasn't able to turn around an economic crash 30 years in the making - thanks, Reagan! - in his first 30 months in office. He started out working with a Congress where 80 percent of Democrats were agents for progressive change, but were stymied by a handful of Blue Dogs and unanimous Republican intransigence.

And that was the good old days of 2009 and early 2010, when he staked his presidency on a half a loaf health care plan, hardly the Socialized Medicine of the scare ads, that for all its flaws ended pre-existing conditions and is already keeping millions of young adults on their parent's insurance past graduation. Yes, that was the good old days, before brinksmanship battles over once-routine votes.

Sue Dvorsky knows about those frustrations. And her way to fight those frustrations is to make one more call and knock on one more door. She'll ask you to do it, she's spent years doing it herself. She wouldn't ask you to do it if she hadn't.

And today when Sue was literally physically blocked outside her own office, while some of her staff was physically blocked inside, she listened to those frustrations, from people who believe that being loud and visible is a better way to make those changes. Unlike the Republicans, who ignore the protests, Sue and the Iowa Democratic Party met them head on and with respect, even when some of those frustrations were visceral emotions rather than specific policy points.

But this story isn't about Sue Dvorsky either.

Sure, the cops got called. That's part of the dance. Nobody got arrested who didn't decide ahead of time that that was their wish, their way to make change. That's how you make news.

Although, when the cops say on arriving, "So, how many today Frank?" does it count as news anymore?

No, this story is about that phone banker. There aren't enough stories about her. There were far more of her today than there were picketers. And this story is about the staffers who work even longer hours, because if you're getting a paycheck, you're expected to work even harder than the people who are doing it for free.

They didn't get their names in the paper. There's no glamour. There's a slice of pizza on a good day. There's persuading and listening and occasional rudeness and tedium.

But for me, today, that's news.


RFLatta said...

Here is the real story. The difference between 5% unemployment and 9%.

If you are a woman working at a any job when unemployment is 5% it doesn't matter if your boss is attracted to you because he knows and you know that you can go out and get another job.

At 9% unemployment, not so much. He knows and you know that you can't just quit and know you will get another job. Doesn't matter if you are married or single, young or old, every day and every hour that you work it is a factor and you know what is coming. That doesn't show up in any statistics but it is real and it is happening now to millions of women.

Yes, we have 5% in Iowa City but it is a college town with chronic underemployment and the greater national and global labor market does have an effect on grads and it is not going away.

And one reason that it is not going away is because big money likes it that way. Corporations like it when they can drive down labor costs and benefits in an employer's market. And their managers like it because it has it's own "benefits".

So corporations are doing a good job at making sure government doesn't provide stimulus to change that either because they have bought out both parties. I know he didn't cause high unemployment but just re-electing Obama will not reform campaign finance in itself. He has to have grass roots pressure to demand finance reform, from Occupy and from young libertarians. And it has to be done through civil disobedience because the electoral and congressional process has become immune to real democratic pressure. If Obama wins and Democrats keep the Senate and take the House, Republicans and blue dogs STILL can, and will, block any reforms in the Senate.

I am glad that you are the third top blogger in the state. But don't let your success, and the sanctuary of low unemployment in Iowa, blind you to the realities of workers that are falling behind with no hope of change in the future.

nanoscale00 said...

You have to admit -- 'cuffing a 14 year old girl (who gets good grades) is never a good PR move.

-albert at BH