My Journey With Barack Obama

Despite my passions for software, live music and clean technology, which I regularly blog about here, I’m privately a civic minded person.  This post serves as a record of the effort I’ve put in for Senator Barack Obama and concludes with an endorsement of the man as our next President of the United States.  The journey begins over two years ago.

Peering into my Gmail history for the keyword ‘obama,’ I can see the first time I talked about him was in a chat session with my friend Ala on 10/16/06 at 10:35 AM PST:

me: goodmorning
Ala: good morning
me: how are you this morning?
Ala: fine, and you?
me: fine.   obama huh?
Ala: made the cover of Time

And that’s how it started.

In November of 2006, I did phone banking in Portland for the Oregon Democrats, and took to the street like a crazy person, holding up my Vote sign on Burnside. About 11 months later, I was living in Boston, starting work on my MBA at Babson College.  Politics are a little more interesting for Democrats on the East coast and by then I was looking to get a bit closer to the candidate, in an email to my brother on 10/19/07 I wrote:

Hey,

Obama just got endorsed by Deval Patrick, and they’re having a rally with both of them in attendance on Tremont and Boylston on Tuesday the 23rd at 6:30pm.

I got a call requesting me to flyer for the rally and am going to do it this coming Sunday.  The meeting time is 10am at the transportation station on Boylston by the Boston common.  (10 park plaza).

Are you interested in going at all?  Might be fun to grab some food first and see if we can meet an organizer who can put us close to Obama when he shows up.  Maybe get a photo.

rob

My brother ended up having to grade some 30 Harvard undergraduate papers that morning and couldn’t make it out.  I however, took to the streets in my slacks, buttoned up shirt and tie and stood on the corner of Harvard Square and Commonwealth avenue, in front of a liquor store.  I passed out fliers to whoever would listen, spreading the good word of Barack.  At the time, the democrats were locked in a three person primary, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were still both serious opponents.

Eli Forsyth was the coordinator of the Boston office for Barack Obama at the time, he and his staff helped me into a volunteer captain role at Boston Governor Deval Patrick’s endorsement of Obama on the Boston Common.  I took that work very seriously, wrangling a half-dozen volunteers with clipboards to do data gathering on the long line trying to get into the rally.

After the rally, I had to return to work on my MBA.  The people like Eli were giving up everything to work on the campaign, for free.  If I was in a different time and place, I could see myself doing something like that.  I kept up my efforts from my office chair, so that in December of 2007 when the Obama campaign requested letters in support of overworked campaign volunteers in Iowa, I wrote the following:

Hey there,

I want to thank you for your hard work in helping get Obama elected to the most important job in our country.

I was born in Des Moines and my dad still lives in Sioux City.  I make it back occasionally.  Although I live in Boston and Portland, OR now, I have a special connection with Iowa.

I was a volunteer captain at Barack’s recent Boston rally and did street flyering.  I know it can be tough work.  Putting Barack is the right thing to do, and I’m glad you see it that way as well.

Please keep it up and know that I’m out here appreciating your efforts. I believe in Barack and that Iowa can play a critical role in getting him elected.

Thank you.

Regards,

Robert Banagale

Then, in February of 2008, Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe emailed supporters asking for letters to help secure the support of superdelegates. He asked us to share our stories with the superdelegates, so I did:

Dear Superdelegate,

I’m not sure how you, in particular, were chosen as a superdelegate.  Perhaps you served as a former president or vice-president of this great nation.  Or perhaps you took a strong leadership role on behalf of our democratic party.

Either way, I appreciate what you have done for our country and in turn am happy to share a part of my story as to why I support Barack Obama.

I am a 27 year old man, born in Iowa, raised in Portland, OR.  I’ve been a life-long democrat. I made phone calls for the party in November 2006 and have stood on the street corner with a Vote sign on election day.

Today, I am an MBA student at Babson College.  It is my dream to be running a successful, socially responsible company by the time I graduate.
Barack Obama also has a dream.  He is a man who has a dream that we can change the way our country is viewed by others across this planet.  He has a vision for a country that works together to accomplish progress on our domestic agenda by reaching across the aisle.

But what is a dream or a vision worth without integrity?

Barack Obama has shown integrity in his campaign and in his loyalty to the party.  He has refused to take donations from lobbyists, to show where he stands on influence of corporate interests and he refused to put his name on the ballot in Michigan because he saw and complied with the party line on our primary rules.

Hillary Clinton doesn’t care about the democratic party rules.  When the chips are down, she’ll do anything to win.  I’m not suggesting that our leader should not be decisive or make hard decisions.  But this race for president is not a war, this is our celebrated democratic process.

If Hillary Clinton can not be expected to follow the simple rules set by our party for our election, what might we expect from her in our nation’s highest office?
Please, use your power to vote for integrity.  Use it for a dream of a better, more united country.  Make your vote for Barack Obama.

Kind Regards,

Robert Banagale

In concentrating on my many projects and graduate school, I stopped work on behalf of the campaign and instead simply talked to friends and family about the candidate as much as was polite.  I became focused on renewable energy, thanks in part to from Clinton White and Jonah Eidus, two other Babson graduate students I worked with to create the Babson Wind Turbine.

This interest led me to the Cleantech Forum in Washington DC, where I had a chance to meet Jason Grumet, Obama’s energy adviser.  About a month later, I attended a debate between Grumet and James Woolsey (McCain’s energy adviser) at MIT.

A photo of me and Jason Grumet.

As the days counted down towards the election, I still had some friends and family to convince, so I reached out as much as possible to help them understand.  Some minds were changed, some were not. I also was active on Facebook, posting relevant links and videos, including sharing my brother’s Status Updates for Change group occasionally.  My contributions, like the lifetime of the campaign were winding down.

But late last night I authored what would be my final opportunity to reach an audience on behalf of Barack Obama.  My Dave Matthews Band website, Weekly Davespeak recieves between 50k and 100k visitors a month.  The site is meant to appeal to all DMB fans and is thus, non-partisan.  However, fortunatly Dave Matthews and I have been politically aligned, at least on choice of presidential candidates for the past three elections.

During my press coverage of Bonnaroo 2008, I met the photographer from Wire Image who shot Dave Matthews and Barack Obama backstage at Farm Aid.  He offered up his photos, which unfortunatly did not turn out well because of some bad sunlight cast on Barack’s face.  So, I went to work mending the photographs and released them packaged with some new exclusive photos of Dave Matthwes and Tim Reynolds taken by a photographer and ally of Weekly Davespeak.

Touched up photo of Dave Matthews and Barack Obama.

These went up on the front page of the website this morning, and were part of an email newsletter blast to just under 5,000 Dave Matthews Band fans.  To me, voting for a candidate simply because an artist endorses them is lunacy.  However, for those fans out there who know the issues and are considering voting against their own personally held social values in favor of the dynamic leadership, I see nothing wrong with their affiliation with Dave Matthews being a reasonable tipping point for getting their vote.

Yesterday, I printed out a non-partisan sign reminding everyone living in my building to go vote, with the address of our local polling station.  I firmly believe that this is a good country, and that when push comes to shove, we will make the right decision.  For so many reasons, Barack Obama represents the greatest opportunity for the long-term prosperity of this nation, and because of it I heartily endorse him to be the next President of the United States.

6 thoughts on “My Journey With Barack Obama”

  1. Well said. The campaign is lucky to have people like you who will go the extra mile to get out the vote. You’ve come a long way from passing out fliers in front of the liquor store. I think we are in for something good tomorrow – would landslide be too sassy?

  2. It’s 6 a.m. in Seattle, raining, and we are off to stand in line to “vote early.”

    This is actually a thrilling day!

    Good Work Rob.

  3. I am proud of you. I can not tell you how much it means to someone in my generation to see someone like you in your generation doing what you are doing. Thank you, thank you…

  4. Rob, pretty cool, wasn’t an Obama fan until the gas crisis this spring when McCain and Clinton both paniced and Obama stayed cool. That’s what we despritely need. I wasn’t as visionary as you, but greatly appreciate your efforts.

    I actually voted almost two weeks ago. Here in Oregon we all vote by mail. So I know that Obama received at least 4 votes that day from my family. It’s nice to know that there is a paper trail for all Oregon votes and since each ballot envelope has to be signed, little if any opportunity to rig an election. I don’t know why other states don’t follow us.

    Now all I can do is wait, but after 2000 and 2004 it is with cautious optimisum.

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