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Saturday, April 21, 2012

In Renton, Deval Patrick Inspires a Rally to Volunteer for Obama in 2012, and to Vote for Deval Patrick in 2016

Posted by on Sat, Apr 21, 2012 at 5:39 PM

You have to understand, I've pretty much only been to Republican rallies this year. Between the parties in Iowa and all the rallies in Seattle before the Washington caucuses (Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney) as well as all the live-streamed victory and concession speeches I've seen this year, I've had a lot of experience with Republican rallies and my Democratic-rally-going experience has totally withered. So this morning was a big shock for me. Somewhere over two hundred people gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Baptist Church in Renton this morning for an Organizing for America kickoff rally, and compared to all the Republican events, it was an alien experience.

The first surprising thing was the diversity: There were more people of color sitting in a single pew than I saw at all the Republican rallies combined. Second was the warmth: People wanted to talk to each other, and not just about politics. (Especially at the Romney rallies, I found that if you tried to talk to someone you didn't already know, you were treated like a crazy person.) Third was the music: Instead of the dumb jingoism of Kid Rock or Toby Keith played over tinny speakers on repeat, a woman sang a beautiful, slowed-down gospel version of "How Great Thou Art."

Also unlike most of the Republican rallies, the Organizing for America event opened with a prayer, thanking God for "your abundance, the light of day, the beauty of Mount Rainier," for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and for the "new light dawning on the horizon of the United States of America."

Reverend Herbert Carey reminded the audience that "Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Baptist Church does not endorse any political party or candidate." After everyone was done laughing, he added, "I've got to say that. However, we are appreciative and honored that the Washington State Democratic Party has chosen" his church to kick off their organizing campaign.

After Carey's rousing introduction and the good music, the Organizing for America talk and video was a bit of a necessary drag in comparison: It was a PowerPoint presentation explaining the organization of OfA—much as it was in 2008, the DNC is shaping their campaign not as a top-down structure, but as more of a snowflake, in which OfA provides volunteers in each neighborhood the with resources to do the work themselves. Volunteers from Capitol Hill and Factoria spoke a little bit about their experiences and their goals (organization building, voter registration, voter outreach, and voter turnout). Next Saturday is a national voter registration day of action for the organization, and a big reason for the rally was to sign up more volunteers for that first big push.

The best praise I can offer the OfA PowerPoint presentation is pretty much the best praise you could offer any PowerPoint presentation: It was, at least, brief. An extremely invigorated Ron Sims praised Governor Christine Gregoire for "Look[ing] into the abyss of issues," and then he recited the lyrics to "Can't Give Up Now," which much of the room recited along with him:

I've come too far from where I started
Nobody told me the road would be easy
And I don't believe He brought me this far to leave me.

"This is going to be an incredibly challenging year, but we have a president to reelect. We have come too far," Sims said, "And nobody is going to turn us around." Governor Gregoire picked up Sims's enthusiasm and ran with it. (This Gregoire is so much better than the Gregoire who gave a speech endorsing Barack Obama at Key Arena in 2008; it's been pointed out by myself and others that she's become a much better politician now that she isn't running for anything.) "I got the privilege of becoming governor by a margin of 133 votes," Gregoire began. That tiny margin, and the resulting recounts and the Republicans who turned their back to her at her swearing-in ceremony, taught her "a big fat lesson" about electoral politics. She was haunted by the votes she didn't earn, staying awake at night, wondering, "couldn't I have shaken one more hand, couldn't I have gone to one more" campaign event. The problem, she says, is that "we didn't have a ground game," and that's why volunteer events like this one are so important. "Remember the lesson of 133 votes," Gregoire said, "Remember the recount. Remember the lawsuit. We will not let that happen again in Washington state. Double digits! Reelect Barack Obama!"

But as good as Gregoire was—and she was very good, making a strong case for President Obama's achievements in office, especially regarding women's issues—Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is playing at a whole other level. Patrick was ostensibly at this event because his 2006 gubernatorial campaign was reportedly a model for the Obama 2008 campaign. But it felt more like the groundwork for a 2016 presidential run. "Good morning, church," he began. "Let's have a little church this morning." Patrick said that everyone in the room had probably talked to someone who was a little more "squishy" about voting for Obama than they were in 2008. "I don't blame them" for being squishy, he said. "All you hear about in the news is the conflict, and what the other side has done." So then he let loose:

I ask you just to reflect on a couple of facts. This is the president who delivered health care to every American in every corner of the country, after ninety years of trying. This is the president who found, and brought to justice, Osama Bin Laden. Who ended the war in Iraq, who's ending the war in Afghanistan. This is the president who saved the American auto industry from extinction, the American financial industry from self-destruction, and the American encomy from depression. The record is long, impressive, and barely told....I am here to tell you, I am unwilling to let him be bullied out of office.

Patrick reminded the room that he was the governor to take office in Massachusetts directly after Mitt Romney. He avoided personally attacking Romney—"he's always been a gentleman to me," Patrick insisted—but he said when he became governor, "young people and jobs were leaving the state," which was suffering from "crumbling infrastructure" and a deficit "of over a billion dollars." He then ticked off a list of accomplishments Massachusetts has achieved since Romney left, including climbing from 47th in job creation in the union to the top ten. "Massachusetts is on the mend and on the move," Patrick said, "not just because of changes in leadership, but changes in vision." Patrick said the election this year is about a battle of philosophies. Growing up as a kid in Chicago, he said, the entire neighborhood helped raise kids. Kids were the future and the future was everyone's business, so the message to kids like him was clear: "Pull your pants up. Stand up straight. Understand we come from a legacy of achievement." Patrick set up clearly that Mitt Romney's America is an every-man-for-himself America, and that is a drastically different America than the one in which we live.

"I wanna first and foremost thank you for the victory we are claiming today. We are going to win if you make it your campaign," Patrick said. He told the volunteers to talk to "your friends, your family members, that grumpy uncle. Talk to someone who doesn't agree with us. Engage!" Patrick concluded, "if we do that, not only will we win, but we will deserve to win." It was the standard sort of speech politicians offer to volunteers, but the delivery was something exceptional. Patrick is intelligent, warm, and a hell of a speaker. One of the first questions he got from the audience was "Do you have aspirations for 2016?" (The question was greeted with knowing laughter and warm applause. All during Patrick's speech, people around me were whispering to each other about how they wanted to vote for him the next time around.) His response was note-perfect: "I have aspirations for every year," he said, but he didn't have any aspirations to run for president in 2016, "if that's what you're asking." I don't think anybody in the room believed him, and we were all very happy about that.


Comments (15) RSS

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Geocrackr 1
Wow -- every sentence you report Patrick saying in your block quote (except perhaps for the last one) is a lie. That certainly is impressive all right; must be the "whole other level" you're referring to.
Posted by Geocrackr on April 21, 2012 at 5:52 PM · Report this
Purocuyu 3
@1: are you suggesting Osama Bin Laden is still alive, or that Obama wasn't president?
Posted by Purocuyu on April 21, 2012 at 8:36 PM · Report this


Case in point, I was at the Republican 47th District caucus today as a delegate. We started like we always do. A prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on April 21, 2012 at 9:34 PM · Report this
Christampa 5
I have a favorable opinion of Deval Patrick from what I've heard of him. I don't know if he'd be among my top picks for 2016 Presidential candidates, but I do know that I would wake up every morning with a smile if after 8 years of pissing and moaning about Obama, all of the racists had to deal with another black PotUS.
Posted by Christampa on April 21, 2012 at 9:58 PM · Report this
Hey Paul, why so shocked at the diversity of Renton? While most democratic rallies in the Seattle area are whiter than Wallingford, Renton's large numbers of black folk have been a reality for quite a while.
Posted by neo-realist on April 22, 2012 at 1:29 AM · Report this
@5: you must not live in MA then. Trust me when I say most of us don't care for him, no matter how liberal we are. Guy's a fuck-up. What his influence has been doing at the university level alone has been irritating as hell. If anyone decent runs against him, Repub or Dem, I don't think he's got much of a shot.
Posted by NateMan on April 22, 2012 at 7:58 AM · Report this
I'd rather that political rallies don't start with prayers, and that they aren't held in churches. The conflation of politics and religion hasn't exactly been healthy for this country (or any country).
Posted by sarah70 on April 22, 2012 at 12:53 PM · Report this
thene 10
#9 - the GOP abuse churches as fundraising & campaigning weapons and it would be foolish for Dems to pass up an opportunity to do the same.
Posted by thene on April 22, 2012 at 4:14 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 11

Don't forget Cory Booker. He's the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He's young, he's on the cutting edge of Democratic (and American) politics (check out his comments in favor of marriage equality), he's been very successful as mayor and he's going to very popular after he beats Christie and becomes Governor of New Jersey in 2013.

Oh, and shit, last week he ran into a burning building and saved a woman's life.

As long as he doesn't do something stupid (see: Spitzer, Elliot), he has a very bright future in front of him.
Posted by passionate_jus on April 22, 2012 at 4:58 PM · Report this
@7: I beg to disagree: there is no great enthusiasm for him, but (for example) no fanatickal minority questioning his birth, citizenship, or canine consumption because they hates him so.

He evidently won re-election with 49% of the vote against his Republican challenger at 42%...and it's not an overwhelmingly liberal state (Boston, yes, Cambridge, double-plus yes, Somerville---look at that fucking hipster---but it's like upstate New York [eastern Washington?] once you get away from the coast).
Posted by Gerald Fnord on April 22, 2012 at 5:28 PM · Report this
@12: Apparently, you have never spent time in western Mass.
Posted by LimeLemmink√§inen on April 23, 2012 at 3:42 AM · Report this
@12: Yeah, 13 is right. There's a strip of red down the venter of the state, but it's like a thin leather belt on a sumo wrestler. Thing's pretty well hidden.

Baker lost because he had a lousy record for cutting workers, for his budget which left us in the hole along with the Big Dig overruns, and because he was too closely affiliated with Weld, who we did not want back in office. It wasn't anything Patrick did right, it was that we didn't trust Fuckup #2 to fix what Fuckup #1 did wrong.

Patrick has a record of wasting money, of screwing state employees, of screwing with gun owners (who, despite the blueness of our fine state, exist in significant numbers), of wasting time with his enthusiasm for casinos, etc. Sure, he's great on gay rights, abortion rights, and tech, but so are any Republicans who run for office here and have any shot of winning. Give me a MA Republican over a Bible Belt Democrat any day of the week.
Posted by NateMan on April 23, 2012 at 5:45 AM · Report this
Center. Dammit.
Posted by NateMan on April 23, 2012 at 5:47 AM · Report this
#9 ftw. It doesn't matter if I agree with your politics or not; keep church and state separate.
Posted by Justin on April 23, 2012 at 7:25 AM · Report this
I was part of the white diversity. I came from Mercer Island and picked up a black man who was searching for the church at 7-11, just like I was. I gave him a ride and we found the church together. I used to be a republican.......not any more! I left the party 16 years ago as they abandoned me.
Posted by nhewitts on April 24, 2012 at 11:09 PM · Report this

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