Monday, October 20, 2008

Improvisation in campaign stumping

Spirited canvassers from the American Federation of Teachers
S. AuCoin Photos

At the beginning of October I placed one of those new Blogger blog roll gadgets in my right margin directly underneath the Writerquake beach widget to let you know about one blog in particular: Ohio Political Journal, written by former Oregon Congressman Les AuCoin and photographed by his wife, Susan AuCoin. It's a marvelous, albeit short-term, addition to my blog and I thought that Les' explanatory post from September 27 best explains the blog's mission and its transitory nature:

On Wednesday, my wife and I will drop everything we’re doing and drive to Ohio to campaign for Barack Obama and Joe Biden for the last month of the campaign.
We hope we can provide a modicum of help in a battleground state for a ticket we hope and believe will lead the country into a new era of progressive governance and away from the law-of-the-jungle, soak-the-middle class, robber baron era of most of the last thirty years.
But the most important thing we will influence will no doubt be our own psyches. If we sit by as observers much longer, we’re both going to blow a gasket. Rather than hoping neoconservatives won’t steal this country, we want to help Obama and Biden stop them from it, and roll back the trickle-down fleecing, the environmental pillaging and the preemptive war-making that has already occurred.
We hope this journal will give you an up-close and personal look at the campaign from the trenches of a hotly contested state that may decide the election. In 104 years–with only three exceptions–no one has won the White House without winning Ohio’s electoral votes.
So, we’ll now throw everything we have into Ohio to try to restore the best instincts of the country we grew up in. If, god forbid, Obama should lose, at least we’ll have a good answer when our granddaughters ask us, “Pop-Pops and Nana, what did you do in the table stakes election of 2008?”

Now, I do not know why the Ohio Political Journal widget hasn't updated itself to show the most recent post, but it appears to be stuck on the post dated October 17. There are several new posts since then and if you click on the link above, or on the title of the blog there at the widget, it'll take you there to the main page to read them. The post dated October 18 is a marvelous description of the "hurly burly" of stumping in Ohio for Obama-Biden. Les begins it with:

It was one of those days when a schedule goes screwy but improvisation makes it better than you planned. We were going to meet members of the American Federation of Teachers at their lunch break from a day of professional training and go on to a gathering of canvassers for Working America, an AFL-CIO affiliate.
But the Working America office here didn’t get the message (chalk it up to “the fog of war”) and the AFT lunch would occur an hour later than scheduled.
No problem for Wyn Antonio, our host, a AFT retiree, a union organizer in Mississippi and veteran of more campaigns you can count.

". . . improvisation makes it better than you planned." That observation by Congressman AuCoin brought to mind one of my favorite books read this year, FREE PLAY-Improvisation in Life and Art, by Stephen Nachmanovitch. The first paragraph from the book, quoted below, is a reminder of Les and Sue AuCoin and the thousands of selfless volunteers who are speaking before assemblies, on phones, at doorsteps, via blogs, etc., many having to overcome the fear they have of putting themselves "out there." I think specifically of those who supported Obama from the beginning of his campaign, when most of the country thought his candidacy was impossible, as well as those who live in areas or in families where support for this man is seen as un-American.

The second paragraph is a reminder
, for me, of both Barack Obama and Joe Biden -- and of what they are bringing forth from their supporters, and the hope for the change they can effect in this country, if elected. How lucky can we be that they are here for us at this time?

Buddhists speak of the Five Fears that stand between ourselves and our freedom: fear of loss of life; fear of loss of livelihood; fear of loss of reputation; fear of unusual states of mind; and fear of speaking before an assembly. Fear of speaking before an assembly sounds a little silly next to the others, but for the purposes of Free Play it is the central one; let us extend it as "fear of speaking up," "stage fright," "writer's block," and our other old friends. The fear is profoundly related to fear of foolishness which has two parts: fear of being thought a fool (loss of reputation) and fear of actually being a fool (fear of unusual states of mind).....

Paradoxically, the more you are yourself, the more universal your message. As you develop and individuate more deeply, you break through into deeper layers of the collective consciousness and the collective unconsciousness. There is no need to alter your voice in order to please others, and no need to alter it in order to differentiate yourself from others. Quality arises from, and is recognized by, resonance with inner truth. Hence the famous prayer of Socrates: "Beloved Pan and all ye other gods who haunt this place, give me beauty in the inward soul; and may the outward and inward man be one." .....

excerpts from FREE PLAY-Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch


sharryb said...

I've really enjoyed this link. Thanks for keeping us posted and the where with all to get the latest from Ohio.


Wayfaring Wanderer said...

"There is no need to alter your voice in order to please others, and no need to alter it in order to differentiate yourself from others"

I heard that!

p.s. I VOTED TODAY :o)

Lydia said...

Good, I'm glad you are enjoying the Ohio Journal! I added another RSS feed to test the two concerning troubled updating of the feed.

Wayfaring Wanderrer,
You are so lucky to have voted today. I can't wait. But I have to. We have vote-by-mail here and Mike's ballot arrived Sat. I expected mine today but it didn't come, so I called the County Elections office......waiting until Thurs. and if mine still isn't here I'm to call back and they'll send another. They check each and every signature, so there's no chance of someone else trying to vote for me with a lost ballot!

Honour said...

inspiring, Lydia!

The voting process down there intrigues me. How does it work? Maybe you can send me an email. I've heard stories, but it seems so complicated. For our federal election, I got a card that told me where to vote. I went there on that day, and I either had to bring that card, my driver's license or evidence that I live in this area. Then, I cast my ballot and off I went to other errands. All of 10 minutes. I guess I just don't understand why all the line-ups down there?

Lydia said...

It used to be more cut-and-dried here, with conventions that actually did nominate rather than crown the nominee, and then the nation voted on the same day in individual states at select polling places. In the last few decades it's sprung into a real circus of sorts, with various states having what you saw-the lines of early voters (I don't know how that works)and with Oregon having vote-by-mail. My ballot arrived today (yea!) and I hurried to open it just to look at the name "Barack Obama" there for president.
I'll see if I can get some better information together to email you!
By the same token, I know so little about Canada's politics, but did just happen upon some glimpse of it last week or so on C-Span late at night.



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