Posted by Thomas Nephew on 7th November 2008
This is about my last twelve hours or so of work — Monday evening and Election Day — for the Obama campaign in Virginia. It may not be all that riveting to you, but it was a privilege to be a part of it, and to meet so many smart, hard-working people in such a short time.
I had canvassed twice in Leesburg, and it was my intent to rejoin the Leesburg office for final GOTV (“get out the vote”) work on Monday night and Tuesday. While I assume that would have been welcome, I also needed a place to stay, and that proved difficult to arrange. I had needed to leave quickly on Saturday; as I tried to recontact people at the Leesburg office on Sunday and Monday about where to go, I came to suspect I was becoming more of a problem for the people there than a potential asset for them.
I had rented a car for the occasion (I would need to drive straight from Virginia to Ohio for a funeral). By Monday afternoon I’d resolved to book a Leesburg motel room as well and just show up at the Obama HQ there when I got a call from one Lynne Weil, who said she’d been given my name. Having established that she wasn’t in Leesburg, Virginia but in the vicinity of Chantilly, that that didn’t matter to me, and that she had a place for me to stay, we agreed I’d arrive around 8. But between a late start, traffic, and eventually needing to buy a Loudoun County map to find my way, I finally arrived at the address I was given around 9 pm.
Precinct/turf situation board, South Riding hub,
Chantilly, VA, night of 11/3/08
Originally uploaded by Thomas Nephew
Somewhat to my surprise, it really was just another single family home among many in a prosperous looking neighborhood — big, fairly new houses, usually several cars per driveway. But the house turned out to have been all but handed over to the Obama campaign by its owner — the garage was a canvassing staging area, the kitchen had bowls of salad and multigallon coffee containers, the dining room was occupied by four or five people entering data on their laptops. I had arrived between shifts, and stood to the side eating an unexpected dinner on a paper plate and listening in to low conversations in the living room about how urban or rural a given “turf” was, were there enough flashlights, when the door hanger work would start.
I got to talking with another volunteer clearly also waiting for work to do — and it turned out he was part of the Senate Foreign Relations committee staff. We talked about Iran briefly; he seemed to approve of pressure on Iran on the basis of their past nuclear weapons work, and noted that a problem with the “MIT solution” is the fear of a breakout — the Iranians might work with an international uranium enrichment facility for a while, then appropriate the facility and/or the expertise gained and go back to nuclear weapons work on their own. I suggested that no matter what, there will be the possibility of disappointment. But I didn’t want to press things much further than that — we’d both come to do get out the vote work, not have a debate on Iran.
Around 11:30pm, that’s what we did. I couldn’t even say where we went — he had the map and address list, I had the flashlight and the bundle of door hangers (“Obama / Warner”); we got into a process of me shining our flashlight on the mailboxes, confirming we were at or near the right spot, and jumping out to hang up the door hanger. After jingle-jangling my way to a couple of doors, I emptied my spare change and car keys into the back seat. I was forever braced for Rover the dog to start barking — and not sure what I would do – but thankfully that didn’t happen. The whole thing took maybe an hour and a half.