Mary Hough Co-founder of Progressive Women writes of the last two and half years working for President Obama.
Back in 2009, Caroline, Brooke, and I set up Progressive Women, inspired in part by my experiences in the U.S. as a volunteer for the 2008 Obama campaign. Four years later, I’ve just finished working in the digital team for the 2012 Obama campaign where I managed barackobama.com, telling the story of campaign and the supporters whose time, energy, and talents built the largest grassroots political campaign in history.
Of the 2.2 million people who volunteered for the campaign the majority were women and each and every one had a story to tell. One of the key principles of the Obama campaign was the power of people speaking to people, friends talking to friends, neighbours talking to neighbours, about why they were supporting Barack Obama.
“People talk about what issue you’re concerned about and I can’t pick them apart. For me, without the environment being clean what good is it? Without a job, what good is it? Without health care, what good is it? So I can’t find one issue – for me it’s a view of life, of what’s important, of what I think is going to be best for my granddaughters’ future.”
— Catherine, a grandma and an Obama 2012 volunteer in North Carolina
The campaign’s strongest messengers were people like Catherine telling her story and talking about why she supported the President and persuading voters to get to the polls, and to join her at the next phone bank in their neighbourhood.
Barack Obama’s own story is well known: raised by a single-mum, a Harvard Law School graduate, he worked on Chicago’s South Side as a community organizer, before running for political office where he has continued to work for middle-class families.
His story inspired many people to get involved with his first presidential campaign in 2007/8, but it was the story of what he did with the presidency and how his policies helped millions of Americans just like you, your neighbour and your friends and family, that inspired many to get involved with his second campaign.
In Michigan and Ohio, where one million jobs were saved by the President’s decision to rescue the auto industry, that decision meant that people like Karen, laid off in 2008 as the auto industry nearly went under, are now employed again.
“When I got that phone call, I’ll never forget, my kids and we were all sitting here and we hugged and screamed and all danced around like fools. Saying ‘mommy’s going back to work.’”
By reforming the American health care system, 3.1 million young people can now stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26. And, starting in 2014 insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
For Emily, a university student in Nebraska, this meant she could receive the treatment she needed when diagnosed with a rare and debilitating condition.
“I’m the person they’re talking about there. I’m the person with the pre-existing condition. I’m the person under 26 who is going to need that insurance when I graduate.
“For me health reform is the chance to do what I want to do because I want to do it, not because it’s the job that’s going to give me the best chance of having adequate health care.”
With the end of the War in Iraq, President Obama brought mums and dads, brothers and sisters, home, reuniting Americans with their loved ones.
“Because [President Obama] ended the Iraq war, I have my dad back safe. Now I get to spend birthdays and holidays with my dad, and we can do all the things I’ve missed out on while he was away.”
—Ian in Las Vegas
In America, whoever you were, whether you were a supporter, a voter, a volunteer, a donor, you had a reason for supporting President Obama. And it was those stories–much more than approved talking points – told to friends, neighbours, co-workers and relatives on the doorstep, over coffee, in the workplace, at the dinner table that inspired millions of Americans to volunteer and donate to the campaign, propelling Barack Obama to victory on November 6th 2012.
Join Progressive Women for our female-led Funny Fundraiser on January 29th with Kate Smurthwaite, Bridget Christie, Catie Wilkins, and many more. See details here