Monday, 21 November 2016

A Brit inside the Clinton Ground Game Pt 1 : Monday, day before Election Day

British tourist volunteers to help with Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign. First of two posts. Part 1 - day before election day. Note that this remains unchanged since it was written - I delayed a day to post it and now it's a moment in time.
Part 2 is obviously more a part of the real world.

1001 VAN NESS - Condemned TV studio is the HQ of San Francisco's Hillary for President campaign

I woke election day morning with a Fleetwood Mac song in my head that was never recorded. It seemed like a good omen.

As part of my SF holiday I was part of the Democratic Party txting campaign thanks to San Francisco professional writer (and now good friend) Fawn Fitter . As a tourist I obviously couldn't vote or donate but I did txt potential voters in Florida, North Carolina, Colorado. (why? see bottom)

Building is the old KRON TV station, designed by local architect Gardner Daily, which has become another victim of local property prices and is due for demolition to become condos. Only the Hillary campaign keeps it standing currently.

The app, called Megaphone, was developed by ex-Google people apparently. It is illegal to mass spam people over SMS network (thank god) and Megaphone gets around this by enlisting volunteers to do this by hand.

It can be downloaded and used on your own smartphone or you can you can use cheap phones provided.
Users connect to a current campaign location (one of about 4-5 for each location) and then receive a list of names in that area. A sample text is sent written by their local campaign office politely suggesting to the person that they vote.

Every half an hour or so you would stop texting the names and deal with the replies, some of which were predictably graphic. Set responses were offered by the app, mostly providing help. We were told to keep personal replies light "We go high".

General consensus was the worst replies were from Arizona, and the most  exotic names where from Florida
- my personal favourite name was 'Ocean Shackleton'
Ocean, if you ever get to read this and you are ever in London dinner is on me!

Every hour or so when the txt reached a threshold a bell would ring and everyone would cheer. If a campaign was completed we'd be asked to move onto another one and help any new arrivals do this if they didn't know how. On the Sunday, perhaps during what FF claimed was large singalong to the soundtrack of Hamilton the musical, volunteers sent 100,000 reminders to vote in one hour.

Dayshift volunteers were mainly very easygoing Californian women sitting intently but quietly around tables with the occasional sweet little dogs with names like 'Roxy' or 'Toast'. Abundant and delicious cakes were provided.

"You're doing this on your vacation?" they said, "you must get out more!"
I'd got out plenty as later posts will indicate.

At 1001 Van Ness  I've never been in a more calm, good natured and upbeat environment. Deep in that crumbling tv studio, where the sun was nowhere in sight I can't think of a more beautifully positive Californian experience. If I'd not been dragged away (to Smugglers Cove) I'd probably be there now, staying in that corner under the spiral staircase in a state of good natured communal bliss until the entire building was torn down around me.

Why did I volunteer?
  • I'm not naïve when it comes to US foreign policy but Benghazi wasn't a result of the actions of Obama or Clinton. The Libyan intervention was led by the French and the British and the US Government found itself dragged along to ensure it wasn't an under -resourced fiasco.
  • Obama's Red Line in Syria was undermined by the British Parliament vote.
  • I was exorcizing the ghost of the Brexit vote.
  • Trump

No comments:

Post a Comment