Dispatches from the Front
Dean Visits Vote Mob
by Mark Huntress
October 23, 2004
Dr. Howard Dean paid a visit to the Vote Mob
headquarters on Wednesday, October 20th, where he
spoke and answered questions for almost 200 excited
but cramped progressive youth who were packed tightly
into a small office space on North High Street.
Dean, after dropping out of the Democratic primary
race, is focusing on helping the Democratic Party
achieve success in the election. He founded the
political action committee Democracy for America,
which is part of the recent onslaught of groups that
is committed to getting progressive voters to the
polls. Vote Mob and its parent organization, 21st
century Democrats, are allied with Democracy for
America under the umbrella organization America Votes,
along with thirty or so other groups such as America
Coming Together, the League of Conservation Voters,
The purpose of Dean's visit was to "take an
opportunity to thank the volunteers of his partner
organization and to stress the importance of the youth
vote," according to Rose Steller, a Vote Mob worker.
Vote Mob is dedicated to mobilizing the bloc of
voters between the ages of 18 and 30. It is a 527
organization, which means that they are Partisan, but
do not endorse a specific candidate. It does not take
long though, to figure out who they support.
"Bush has turned his back on the young people,"
says Stephen Hightower, "by reducing student loans and
by revoking overtime pay that many depend on to make
their way through college."
Summer Loehr says that "Among issues such as the
cost of college, civil liberties, health care, and
environmental protection, the Democratic Party has
progressive policies that represent the interests of
the youth vote."
She adds that the group tries to ignore the
constant chattering about the candidates'
personalities. "The issues are what are important. We
should be more concerned about what a candidate thinks
about health care that what he did 40 years ago."
Vote Mob is unique in that they ask individuals
what issues are most important to them personally, and
then engage them in dialogue about those specific
issues. Rachel Machesky says, "I enjoy getting out and
connecting with people directly. They are usually open
to hearing what we have to say, except at OSU football
games. It will be interesting to see how effective
this is in swinging the election."
The group has talked to 40,000 people in Columbus,
and 90,000 in Ohio, but its overall impact will not be
evident until after the election. "The more people
that are involved, the more effective it will be,"
Hightower claims that Vote Mob is an important
factor because its influence is not evident in
national polls. He estimates that it will engender
20,000 new voters, mostly of college age. "We are
organizing the passion and the anger of the young
people by getting out and talking to them wherever
they happen to be. We are bringing our message to
them, that your vote is your voice."
21st Century Democrats is also present in the
swing states Oregon, Minnesota, and Nevada.
Dean said about the strength of the America Votes
organizations, "I have not seen as much energy for
change since the Vietnam era, when we got rid of two
He commended volunteers' efforts in registering a
vast number of new democratic voters, but urged all
present to keep up their efforts in turning out voters
on Election Day because, "you don't get any points if
the people you just registered don't get out and
Dean's comments were concise, relevant, and
humorous. When asked if he had read John Kerry's book,
he replied, "I haven't even had time to read my own
book yet," but then assured the crowd that he did it
fact write it himself.
When someone on the street created a disturbance
by playing a recording of Dean's infamous scream from
after the Iowa caucus, he seemed amused, and said, "No
one told me Karl Rove was going to be here."
Dean's presence was warm, though he was often
critical of President Bush and Republicans in general
with a kind of gentle venomousness that seemed highly
appropriate and accurate. His barbs went over well
with the audience. When asked why he thought Bush was
so popular with many people, he replied, "Bush appeals
to the macho nature of people who don't think. He also
uses fear, but he is a very likeable person. I have
talked to him, and he is smooth, quick, facile and
genial. He is fun, and is appealing at a gut level,
but he just isn't a good president."
He claimed that the Republicans do not support
democracy and have no interest in seeing that everyone
gets a chance to have their vote counted. "They think
that whatever advances their ideology is a good
He acknowledged that there are a lot of problems
that are likely to arise on Election Day because of
this Republican disregard for democracy. He has no
faith in touch screen voting, which has already
malfunctioned in several states, including many
counties in Florida. Republicans are opposed to having
machines issue a paper receipt that would allow
verification of electronic vote tallies. He is also
concerned about intimidation at polling locations, and
recommends that lawyers be present to defend peoples'
right to vote. In light of the expected high voter
turnout, he is concerned that Secretary of State
Kenneth Blackwell might try to close the polls at
exactly 7:30, disenfranchising the citizens left
waiting in line. Considering Blackwell's recent
attempts to limit provisional balloting, this seems
highly likely. Dean encouraged everyone to vote early
in the day in order to leave enough time for any
difficulties encountered to be resolved.
He declared his support for runoff voting,
claiming it would enable a third party to play a
constructive role without hurting either of the other
parties. Mentioning an election with 22 candidates in
San Francisco, he said, "The general attitude of the
election is very positive. People are actually talking
about issues. There is no negative campaigning,
because no one can afford to tick off another
candidate's supporters. This is what runoff voting can
do for elections."
He gave some final words of support to the workers
and volunteers, telling them to "leave it all on the
field," before he left to go to his debate with Bob
Dole at the Ohio Union.
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Speaking tour to protect Arctic Refuge this fall
by Chad Kister
July 27, 2006
The state of Alaska spent $230 million this year on a lobbying firm that predicts it will win approval of drilling by the end of this session of Congress. Even with a Democratic victory in November, which is predicted, Congress will likely try to pass drilling in the lame duck session in November and December.
We need a massive grassroots campaign to stand up against the $230 million in Alaskan oil-industry funded efforts to destroy the last intact Arctic ecosystem left in North America.
I am planning a speaking tour throughout the northeast united states in September and early October by 50 mile per gallon car, then a speaking tour in November throughout the United States and Canada by fuel efficient train.
Please consider scheduling a stop in your home town. Contact me at email@example.com or 740-707-4110.
With Democrats likely to sweep Congress in November (though we need to work hard to make sure that happens), we may get a two year break from the constant battle to save the refuge. But we must make sure it lasts into February of next year, so now is the time to organize events, and get local media as has been so effective in the past.
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