Sometimes you have to pound the pavement to get results. On
Election Day, a dozen Local 802 members got on a bus to Philadelphia to knock on
doors and turn out the vote for President Obama. Here’s what a few musicians
said about what the experience meant to them:
Why was it important for you to go door-to-door for President
Obama with other Local 802 members in Philadelphia?
Martin Andersen: I strongly believed that Obama deserved a
second term, and was very concerned about the implications of a Romney
presidency. On so many levels – economic, social, and cultural – a
Democratic victory was of vital importance. It was particularly meaningful (and
fun!) to do this work with like-minded members of Local 802. When an outcome is
far from certain, it is comforting to turn anxiety into action with others who
share your goal.
Art Baron: I got very involved with the presidential race. I
posted and reposted many interesting articles on Facebook, and sent out many
e-mails about Mr. Obama, and how his opponent was really wrong for this country.
When I read of the opportunity to get out of the house and actually do
something, it seemed the right thing to do. I’d been talking the talk, now it
was the time to walk the walk.
Ben Harms: I wanted to contribute time and effort to helping
win the election. I had already sent money to various Democratic campaign
committees, but being “on the ground” added another dimension. Also,
this action was a compensation for my efforts in 1964 when, while I was a
student in Philadelphia, I worked for the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign
(my political viewpoint changed shortly afterwards).
Dan Manjovi: Over the course of the campaign, it became very
clear to me that this election was a crossroads election about how America would
go forward in the 21st century, and about the kind of America I would like to
Sharon Sherrard: Because I knew this election was going to
be close – I felt it critical that everyone vote and I welcomed the
opportunity to help in getting out the vote.
Danny Weller: This was the first election in which I felt
absolutely compelled to get involved with a presidential campaign. I truly
believe that America is going to regain much of its economic power in the next
four years, and while that is happening, I want a president who is going to move
forward with social issues – such as health care, women’s rights, and
marriage rights – not one who vows to the American people that he will nullify
our progress on day 1. Romney’s last-minute campaigning in PA made me very
nervous for the state’s voting outcome, so I was very excited to work together
with fellow musicians to make sure that Philadelphia had a strong turnout at the
What was the experience like for you?
Martin Andersen: I definitely benefited as much from the
experience as the recipients. It was a real education to talk with the residents
of Northeast Philadelphia – to hear both their concerns and hopes.
Unemployment was high, and common problems crossed all racial and cultural
lines. The last resident I spoke to proudly displayed her Obama T-shirt,
complete with both his profile and the words OBAMA 2012 – in sequins. Made my
Art Baron: It was something I have never done before, and I
did have some trepidation. A few days before, I came up with all sorts of
reasons to cancel. I knew this was not what I wanted. So I went, and I
fortunately was paired with someone who had done this before. But, man, this was
something so different, intruding into people’s homes, asking them personal
questions. I saw that all I had to do was treat them with a kind of respect
where they would know my intentions, and realize I am not there to confront
them, but help them find the way to support Mr. Obama and to support our
country. It made me look deep inside and see that there is something we can do!
Ben Harms: Exhilarating! The Obama get-out-the-vote
operation was truly awe-inspiring. The other side seemed to operate on the
“trickle-down” theory which premised that using money from the wealthy
classes would influence the majority of the citizenry to vote for their side.
There was fortunately enough conviction on our side that we should prevail, and
Dan Manjovi: Canvassing with other union members was
extremely rewarding, gratifying and fun. It was a great day!
Sharon Sherrard: Very rewarding. It felt good to be part of
a worthy effort. I enjoyed meeting voters, and enjoyed the camaraderie among
other Local 802 members.
Danny Weller: Everyone we spoke to were supporters of Obama.
I think the difference we made was with the folks who said: “I was just on
my way to the polls,” and our house visit made sure that they went!
Honestly, I expected more annoyance from the other side of the doors, but just
about everyone who answered was positive and supportive, and it made the whole
experience very uplifting.
How do you feel about President Obama’s win in Pennsylvania
and his overall victory?
Martin Andersen: Obama had to prevail in the battleground
states, including Pennsylvania, in order to win the election. It felt good to
have been a small part in that outcome. Obama’s victory nationwide may have
been a turning point, there being a real kulturkampf being waged in this
country. Essentially, will American society live in the 19th century, or in the
21st? Now there is a chance for progressives to build on the fruits of this
Art Baron: I am thrilled for Obama and the country! The
other outcome was unthinkable. As for the win in Pennsylvania, I have such a
good feeling. Perhaps my partner and I got one person to go to the polls who may
have slept through the day, not voting. And perhaps there were hundreds of
others out there like us, also helping to get someone to vote who may have
missed it. I experienced directly that we can do something about it! This was
very empowering! Thank you to Local 802 and to other union members who have did
the work for weeks. GOBAMA!
Ben Harms: Exhilarated! The country is on its way to no
longer being run by older heterosexual white men. (I’m one of them.)
Dan Manjovi: I felt proud that our union was out there
actively working on behalf of the president in Pennsylvania, and I feel that his
re-election sends an important message to the monied, corporate, plutocratic
interests that their power, money and influence have limits.
Sharon Sherrard: Completely relieved!
Danny Weller: I was proud to be a part of the winning
effort. It’s a great feeling to see your contribution make a difference, and I
will certainly be volunteering in the next election.
To volunteer in Local 802’s political efforts, contact K.C.
Boyle at (212) 245-4802, ext. 176 or Kboyle@Local802afm.org.
Thanks to all Local 802 members who volunteered their time to get out the vote
in the recent elections. You made a difference!