Project Wonderful

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Organizer Store Part #2- Campagne

I have had this idea for years: a carbonated, alcoholic energy drink called Campagne. Get it?

You could even get it printed with your campaign's logo on the label.

The question is, would campagne be a celebratory beverage for election night or a staying-up-late-in-the-office-having-a-beer type beverage. Discuss.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall Premieres

Do you guys know how annoying it is when the season finale of your favorite show leaves you with cliffhanging excitement and giant plot leaps forward only to return in the fall with everything miraculously restored to the natural order of things?

Well that is my life right now. I am in my hometown sitting in Starbucks, considering jumping on a campaign mostly because I'm not sure what else to do. But after that I'm moving to Boston permanently and going to grad school. Wait, where have I heard this before?

But I mean, it's not like I'd be working with the same people or like I'm deluding myself into thinking I'm going to continue to lose weight while I'm there...oh wait, yes it is.

I'm not really one for those Ross and Rachel type relationships. If you break up with someone, or something for that matter, it was probably for a good reason. Sometimes I scare myself with extent to which I can disassociate from entire swatches of my life... (This is why my High School friend, Rachel, remembers EVERYTHING we said and did and all I can say is "It sounds like that happened")... with one notable exception.

I don't think people in other professions have this problem. Like no one is on their way to grad school and starts thinking "I'm going to miss my old job so much!" But I know you guys feel me, which is maybe why I feel this way in the first place. The people I've worked with on campaigns are passionate, driven and committed to what they do in both a deeply moving and deeply creepy way. That's a big part of why, despite everything I just said, I'm not quite ready to be done. Where else am I going to find people who get me like that?

I wish I knew how to quit you,


Thursday, September 23, 2010


Check Out This July Press Release on the VAN Website.

"Voter Activation Network (VAN) has teamed up with TargetSmart Communications to offer VAN’s powerful organizing technology platform and TargetSmart’s nationwide voter file and consumer data as a single convenient, integrated package.

The joint offering, called “SmartVAN”, is now available under a single contract, allowing customers to get all of the data and technology they need to run an organizing campaign, without having to manage multiple contracts. The package can include blast email, phone services, membership management tools, website and new media consulting, and even detailed individual-level consumer marketing information."

Did you guys know about this? Voter File, and Consumer Data, and Tech Support, Oh My!

10 Rules for Savvy Campaign Staffers

A former boss/wonderful advice giver of mine sent these to me a couple of years ago. So far this is best selection I have received on making the campaign lifestyle sustainable. Enjoy!

1.Choose your candidates carefully. Do your research, make sure you’'re taking a job that you can live with on key issues and staff personality. Also make sure the campaign is funded well-enough to actually pay you.

2.Build your personal budget. You can’t accurately gauge what you can
live on if you don’t know how you’'re actually living.

3.Get your offers in writing. Best way to do this is to confirm the offer, start date and salary in an email. Gives you something to fall back on in case you get suckered into an unscrupulous campaign.

4.Negotiate. You won’t get rich, but you needn’t always negotiate only for money. Ask about healthcare, mileage, cell phone reimbursements, housing or even just a couple of weekends off during the course of the campaign. The most effective negotiation is done before you start with the campaign.

5.Find a suitable living situation. The campaign should help.

6.Keep every receipt. Many expenses are tax deductible when you live on the road. Easiest thing to do is to keep them all and let your accountant figure it out at the end of the year.

7. You cannot afford to eat every meal out or drink every night at a bar. Eat breakfast, pack a lunch. You will save $450-$500/month by trimming how much you eat out. And while grabbing a beer after work is a staple in the campaign lifestyle, it doesn’t need to be every night and it needn’t always be a bar.Grab your friends and a sixer and go to someone’'s house. Savings here are is closer to $200/month.

8. You cannot afford to buy every coffee by the cup. Get a French press and make your own, or convince your office to get a coffee maker. You'’ll save close to $150-$200 per month.

9. A good campaign office will have three basic appliances: a refrigerator, a microwave and a water cooler. A great office will have a coffee maker.

10. The three NEVER's: Never pass up an opportunity to get a good night’'s
sleep, never pass up an opportunity to eat a free meal and never, ever put anything campaign related on your credit card!

Rule number 10 should be etched in stone.

40 Days Until Election Day!


"All Faggots Must Die"

I try not to get too much into the political/legislative side of stuff on here, but this just made my stomach turn.

The above quote was posted from an IP address in Saxby Chambliss' US SENATE OFFICE in Georgia as comment on a blog about the DADT Cloture Vote (Don't even get me started on that one.)


Just in case you needed a reason to go to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Organizer Store Part #1-Fashion for my passion

Many of you know that it's been my secret dream to open an online organzier store. In fact, it was about 20% of the inspiration for this blog. However my target demographic is small and frequently broke,so my dreams never took flight...until now! Behold the first in what I hope will be an ongoing series of "The Organizer Store."

As Margaret Cho's mother would say, "Nancy loves two things-Campaigns and Sundresses."

Long have I extolled the advantages of canvassing in a dress. It's cooler, it's easier to move in, and dressing up helps you feel less like the sleep deprived zombie that you know you are. Jersey sundresses are perfect for campaigns because they don't wrinkle and don't require dry cleaning. You can bunch it up, throw it in your purse and put it on two minutes before an event!

The one problem is that they don't always have pockets. I'd usually wind up carrying my keys or attempting to affix them to my clipboard. But never fear dear friend! I went out and found you an adorable jersey dress WITH zip pockets so your keys and phone won't fall out, on You're welcome!

I don't recommend going this route if you're a boy...nor do I recommend canvassing in that much make up...and probably if you look like me you should throw on a tank top underneath, but you get the picture.

Let me know what you think!


Monday, September 20, 2010

You're Hired!

If you, or more likely someone you know, is looking for a campaign job, I have some very close and awesome friends who are hiring organizers and regionals. Shoot me an email if interested.

Also, after my that last fairly negative post, I wanted to suggest some ways that capable, good-looking and motivated people can find jobs on campaigns (besides networking which is really the best way to go).

Jobs that Are Left:

Tom Mantos Jobs List: email

New Organizing Institute:

Democratic Gain:

There are, of course, others, but these are the ones in which I have actually had success.

Happy Hunting!


You're Fired!

Don't get me wrong, field organizers have it tough- long hours, low pay and a lot of stress. It's understandable that we are so reticent to fire them. I firmly believe that it is our job as managers to do everything we can to support our organizers and help them succeed, including letting them know just what they are getting into before they start.

However, even the most dutiful manager winds up with the occasional bad seed, as happened to one of my friends recently, and has happened to almost all of us. My friend wanted to fire an under-performing organizer, who routinely left work early, walked out during calltime and complained constantly, but was told he could not, because it's just not done.

Last year I attended the New Organizing Institute's Campaign Manager training, where they showed me the above chart by expert manager Jack Welch. Welch argues that there are TWO types of employees who should be let go: those who do NOT live by the values of the organization whether they produce results or not. Welch argues that like a cancer, a poor attitude will spread throughout an organization and eventually do more harm than good.

How many times have we experienced this? Let's face it, as an organizer, its taxing but it isn't difficult to at least be decent at your job, and its always those who work the least who complain the most, bringing others down with them.

Sure its hard to find new staff, but I would argue its harder to spend your time cleaning up after bad staff, so like Moses before me, on behalf of my friend and all my colleagues, I beg you for the sake of success, LET MY PEOPLE GO.

L'Shana Tova,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"The Politician"

Has anyone else heard about Aaron Sorkin working on a John Edwards movie?

I heard rumors about a Sorkin directed movie a few months ago, but nothing since, and information on the subject is sparse. Aaron Sorkin has been getting buzz lately because of "The Social Network" or as I call it, "That facebook movie staring the kid who isn't George Michael," but of course we know him as the creator of the West Wing and The American President.

If this is true, private screening at my apartment, complete with lots and lots of alcohol! Though may I make a suggestion? A surprise ending where justice is served and Edwards is sentenced to a year in Iowa working 16 Hour days for $1,500 a month.

Onwards, Upwards, Edwards,


PS. Why is this the stock Edwards guilt photo? Thanks to Sam "Seaborn" Hagedorn for reminding me about this.

Watch This Video

If you are responsible for planning a GOTV effort, or if you are just a nerd like me, you need to watch this video. Powerful Stuff.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Vacation In Hell

"Participants describe it as a fraternity, a relaxing retreat, a college road trip adventure, a march to war, a vacation in hell."

An article in politico (which for the record knows NOTHING about actually working on campaigns) talking about Republicans leaving Washington to go help on races across the country, but it could easily be about Democrats.

Hooray for out of state volunteers! On the one hand, if you leave DC to volunteer on a race for two weeks and then talk about how you "worked" on a campaign....aaaaah no. On the other hand, big hugs and kisses to the out of state volunteers who have helped me throughout the years, especially a young man who sang Burt Bacharach via Facebook with me last night.

And finally a thought, I AM an out of state volunteer. Right now I am on GCHAT with one of my friends (who I first met when HE was an out of state volunteer) talking about high school outreach on his Senate race. It's the circle of life.

You can take the girl out of the campaign, but you can't take the campaign out of the girl...

If it's broke, break it more, repeatedly...

My friend, Natalie, brought my attention to this article about broken voting machines from the New York Times Blog. Every year, this happens. They want to blame the new machines, but I was working in Brooklyn this time last year and it was the same story, polls mysteriously opening too late, machines breaking down, etc. All of which leads to DISENFRANCHISEMENT, the ugliest word in the English language and the bane of my professional existence.

As this article points out TEN YEARS after the infamous hanging chads, we still can't figure out an efficient, reliable and user friendly standard method for voting? Really? At the risk of using an expression I have never used before, this kind of thing really burns my britches. We spend all this time convincing people that their vote matters and that voting is their right and responsibility and then they get to the polls and there is another obstacle to prevent them from exercising that right. Voting should be as accessible as humanly possible and there is no reason other than laziness, incompetence or corruption that these sort of shenanigans still plague us!

Also, how confused does that lady look?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I voted!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, today I did something I have never done before. I voted, not absentee, not early, not in a district I had only lived in for six months, in the sleepy hamlet of Chappaqua, NY, the town in which I was raised.

I know I just went through a whole song and dance about how I wasn't going to get to vote today, but then I thought "Just because I don't live anywhere, doesn't mean I shouldn't vote somewhere." After all, I distinctly remember getting a walksheet in Iowa printed from the VAN that said, "Homeless corner of Dubuque and Davenport." If he can vote, so can I, and since my parents' house is my default permanent address, I felt justified.

I arrived to vote around 2pm and was surprised to find a line, albeit a short one. Not too shabby for a primary in a midterm year when the highest competitive race is Attorney General in a town as small as mine. (This was AFTER I figured out where I was going, because once I entered the building there were no signs indicating that voting was on the second floor.) THEN, and this is the best part, the woman hands me my ballot explains how to fill it out, and says "and then IF you want it to be a secret you put it in this folder here." Wait....IF?

Granted New York was trying out new voting machines (see my next post), but still...if I HAD been working this election, electric currents would have been shooting out my brain. Also, they didn't give me a sticker!

Still as I enjoyed a pumpkin spice latte on this beautiful autumn day, I felt particularly American after my first civilian voting experience.

Viva la Republic!


Vote, Baby, Vote!

Happy Primary Day! Please enjoy my favorite election day song! Does anyone know how I can make this my ring tone?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tomorrow is Primary Day!

Tomorrow is election day in a number of places, including my adopted home town of Cambridge, MA. One of the races on the ballot is Sal DiDomenico vs. Tim Flaherty for State Senate. I worked on this race when it was a special election primary in April, for a candidate who lost. (For what its worth I would be voting for DiDomenico if I could.)

And now...I can't even vote, because I just moved out of my sublet. I also can't help any of my friends who are working on races tomorrow because I will be recovering at my parents' house in New York.

I feel about as useless as bacon at a Bar Mitzvah...but less delicious.

The message:

This PSA brought to you from the Alan and Susan Solomont Center for Oncology and Hematology, and by viewers like you.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

They're all a bunch of crooks and liars

I enjoyed this Op-Ed from Eugene Robinson, in which he compares the mood of the American electorate to a temper tantrum.

"The nation demands the impossible: quick, painless solutions to long-term, structural problems. While they're running for office, politicians of both parties encourage this kind of magical thinking. When they get into office, they're forced to try to explain that things aren't quite so simple -- that restructuring our economy, renewing the nation's increasingly rickety infrastructure, reforming an unsustainable system of entitlements, redefining America's position in the world and all the other massive challenges that face the country are going to require years of effort. But the American people don't want to hear any of this. They want somebody to make it all better. Now. "

The job of enfranchising the electorate is a noble one...but they don't make it easy, do they?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mistakes were made

Working on grad school applications I encountered the question "What did you learn from a mistake?"

Immediately, my mind jumped to Iowa. All kinds of mistakes. Where to begin? Let's start with thinking John Edwards could have beaten Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the first place (for the record, we actually DID beat Hillary in Iowa.) Then there was Elizabeth Edwards' decision to allow her husband to run while she had cancer and after having cheated on her.

I remember vividly working on a Superman style JRE poster with a coworker and proudly presenting it to Mrs. Edwards. Can you imagine working on your husband's Presidential campaign sick, cheated on, having to talk about how great he is EVERY day and then two idealistic twenty year olds presenting you with a poster extolling him as superhuman? There are A LOT of things for which I feel Elizabeth Edwards and her estranged husband owe me an apology, but for this one, I'm sorry.

Then there were the mistakes made by others on the campaign. I won't go into them here (although they are in my essay) except to say I learned a lot about how NOT to treat my staff by example.

But regardless of what anyone else did, the biggest mistakes were made by me. Yes the chips were stacked against us politically, and I was met with a lot of unnecessary adversity from so called activists and colleagues, but I still had control over my own reactions, and I failed. I was nasty to my coworkers, whether they deserved it or not, disrespectful to my higher ups, whether they deserved it or not, and all around a stick in the mud.

I think maybe the greatest irony of this new chapter of my life is the way that I remember things. Things that I know once made me happy, I have trouble remembering fondly. Yet when I look back at Iowa, a pastime that for months afterward could cause me to burst out crying, I now have this wave of nostalgia. I made some of my best friends there. Some of my best stories happened there. I learned a lot about myself and about campaigns and in a very real way I grew up in that single year more than any other.

Looking back, I wish I hadn't taken myself too seriously to enjoy it.

One late night in Iowa I was on the phone with the first friend I ever made on campaigns, both of us frustrated, downtrodden and a little indignant at our predicament. He asked, as we often asked each other, "why do we do this to ourselves?" and I thought of the Howard Hughes quote "passion will drive you crazy, but is there any other way to live?"

Now if only I could explain this to an admissions board.

Mea Culpa.