Wednesday, November 03, 2004

ACT vs. MoveOn

before getting into the whole tragedy, this entry is intended to note a few of the differences between the two groups I volunteered with in the lead-up to yesterday's election. There are major major differences here. First, the basic difference:

ACT: true union blue
MoveON: the latte left

It was pretty strange to go from the MoveOn rally Saturday morning, to the ACT training in the afternoon. Completely different worlds. In some respects, it gave me hope that there was a diversity of groups and tactics working on the defeat of GWB, but, in retrospect, it clearly didn't work well enough, and there were some strangenesses going on in each group. I liked working with both groups in different ways (MoveOn was well organized, and had some really uplifting interactions, ACT had a real diversity of participants) but, for thought, here are some observations on the critical side:

MoveOn - at the meeting on saturday, we had some "pep-rally" type speakers. I don't know if I'm speaking for a lot of MoveOn type people, but this type of speaking has never worked with me. I'm either already there with the cause, or I'm not. Simpleton, "let's all cheer now" events actually grate on my nerves. I think this has to do with why I'm not a good sports fan.

Anyway, this is my speculation here, but I think that the MoveOn crowd is somewhat similar to me in this regard. Not so much the rah-rah crowd. So when the rally started off with a bunch of speakers trying to do that... it just didn't work. And I think this speaks to the fundamental difficulty of a MoveOn effort to get out the vote. A mass turnout of unlikely voters requires something very different from a deliberate discussion and decision making. It requires some rah-rah. I, for one, am terrible at rah-rah. When canvassing, I didn't get the sense that my efforts were working. The people that I felt like I connected with when they answered the door, were also the people who were dedicated voters already, not the targeted "unlikely voter". There's a culture gap here that's not easily bridged. That's not to say I blame MoveOn for it, but there it is... it's a difficulty.

My experience working with Act: While at first I thought it was admirable to try and organize something at the scale of their effort, in the end I just left with a bad taste in my mouth. There was definitely an "assembly line" mentality to the whole experience that doesn't sit well with me. The inefficiencies of the day were so tremendous - it smacked of the "Union Labor" stereotype. While I'm talking about the "Union Labor" stereotype, I had such a great example of of it on my crew. A woman named Diane. Oh my god. As soon as the work started, she didn't stop the bitching for 2 minutes. You would think that if somebody signed up for a full day of canvassing to "get out the vote", they would know that it involved walking, and being outside. Because of various inefficiencies, my day, which was 13 hours long, translated into only 4.5 hours of active canvassing. Diane (and two others on my crew) hadn't voted before she showed up to work, so her 4.5 hours were shortened to 3 because she took off in the middle and went to vote. Good JOB DIANE! WELL DONE!!

As for the efficacy of the canvassing that did happen, I do think that it worked better than the MoveOn canvassing, namely because it was done on the day of the election, so the message wasn't "think of voting for Kerry in a few days", but it was a simple - VOTE NOW - message. The message was also coming to unlikely voters from people who spoke the same language that they did.

Michael's comment about the day's organization: It's no wonder that the Republicans have a strangle-hold on power in this country.


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