Clearly my previous blog post touched a nerve: comments here, or on Facebook, or Twitter are either confirming my impression or are extremely defensive and once again echo the insulting tone activist volunteers were subjected to when suggestions were offered concerning what worked in our area ‘below Boston’.
So I think I will enumerate a few particular choice occurrences we activists had to endure from the Coakley remnant~
At the ‘Organizational Meeting for Markey’ held on 3/3/13 at the Weymouth Eagles Hall on RT 53, activists volunteers for Markey( some, like me, had already collected signatures for Ed Markey to ensure his name would be placed on the ballot) were asked to give up 4 hours of their time for a ‘training’ – hard to credit but’s it’s true: 99% of the people in the Hall at that moment had participated in the Warren Campaign, were veterans of other campaigns such as Deval Patrick’s first run for Governor as well as his subsequent re-election effort, Barack Obama’s effort in ’08 or Hillary Clinton’s effort, some had actively participated in Steve Grossman’s campaign for Treasurer, Bill Keating’s run for Congress, never mind all the local races these people had involved themselves in: local State Rep races, such as for Jim Cantwell and Josh Cutler most recently, and local Mayors and Selectman candidates over the years.
4 hours of ‘training’.
Ok – what had happened in 6 months since November of ’12, in which our candidates had won:Warren, Obama et al. that these veteran volunteers needed training for?
Evidently it was the need to be told it was ‘our fault’ that Martha Coakley had lost( the person running this training opened it by telling us he had worked for Coakley and now he was the FD for our Congressional District for Markey);that ‘we’ didn’t ‘work’ hard enough.
Then, it was to be told that some of our towns were ‘throw away towns’ that Markey wasn’t going to win and if he – this person ‘running’ this ‘training’, needed us to go to another town or city to canvas – that’s where we were going.
Clearly we should have snapped to attention at that moment and saluted.
Silly us, we didn’t – we thought perhaps there were things this Coakley remnant might want to learn about OUR region – such as Town Meeting season was approaching and that we would need signs for visibility to be held before VOTERS went into their Town Meetings prior to the Special Primary. And that we had a political organization in place, the SSDC, which could be contacted for more volunteers or for events to be held – a forum perhaps, as we had done for previous races.
Here is where it gets really unbelievable: we weren’t going to do visibilities, at all, not even when hundreds of our fellow citizens ( in Hingham’s case that would be 3000+ VOTERS showed up to attend Town Meeting) could be present because, that’s what the Lynch people were going to be good at – that’s all the Lynch people WERE good at, we were told.
The level of disdain, disparagement of a volunteer activity, was epic.
At least 4 or 5 people from Hingham and Scituate and Weymouth immediately spoke up to try to ‘tell’ this Coakley remnant, now hired by the Markey campaign, that the people attending Town Meeting were exactly the same voters we needed to canvas, were willing to canvas, but the Coakley remnant was adamant: no visibility, no signs – we were going to canvas where, and when, we were told to canvas.
‘When’ became obvious when I attempted to canvas during the week because of circumstances in my life which dictate that time frame: I was repeatedly told no; I canvassed more than twice on separate weekends and then it became obvious my canvas days would end unless I was to be allowed to canvas during the week with another person who preferred that volunteer time frame as well: we were actually told, reluctantly, alright, but, it had to be between 4- 7pm – we replied that our volunteer schedule only allowed for between 10am and 1pm. After much wrangling back and forth we were ‘allowed’ to canvas but the time we did it: 10 am- 1-pm needed to be clearly put on the packet.
I have lived in Hingham all of my life except for college and a brief 2 1/2 year period when I moved to Denver – I know this town – I knew that people would be home and in bigger numbers than are home on weekends.
Sure as shooting: our contact rate was over 50% for the day we canvassed between 10am and 1pm. Better than any weekend I had canvassed for sure.
Have I mentioned how horrible the packets were organized? How it would take 45 minutes to get them into a driveable/walkable order?
Volunteering should never be this hard – and for me, this was the worst in 40 years.
[Here is where I disclose that I have a Political Science degree and that I have been volunteering on campaigns since Gerry Studds was running in the early 70's and that my biggest leap into volunteering was when Kennedy ran against Carter and I spent nearly every weekend traveling from Providence where I went to college, to NH and ME before that Primary and caucus and then too many subsequent elections and trips to NH to count since then.]
Expect more blogposts about this campaign experience.