Saturday, 3 January 2009

Getting Meta... Thoughts about This Blog

So I thought it might be a good idea to take a minute and lay out my thoughts about this Obama London Blog - where it has been and where it might be going. Some of these future-looking thoughts are still vague at the moment, so please don't hold me to them!

Basically, when I first started this blog I wanted a space where I could personally spout off about Obama stuff on occassion, and also a way of drawing in people who might browsing the net for Obama related stuff in London.

I always hoped that the blog might eventually be more than just a one person endeavor, and eventually Diana Shaw Clark started guest blogging, as did my wonderful co-organiser Rob Carolina. But on the whole, the site has been mostly kept up (or not!) by myself.

In 2009, far from wanting to pull back on the blog, I am actually hoping to do much more with it. From now on I will personally be aiming to do at least one post per day. But in addition, I'm also in discussions with some other folks about adding some more talented writers to our "team". In addition to some new permanent bloggers, I'd also like to post some one off articles from Obama supporters with an interesting perspective to share. Do you have some pressing thoughts on health care reform? Or a great election night story to tell? Or some helpful tips for campaigning? Please leave a note in the comments telling me what you'd like to write about, and we'll make arrangements.

This blog is not an official Obama communication, and the opinions expressed on it are not necessarily endorsed by the Transition Team, the future administration, the previous campaign team, or Democrats Abroad. Having said that, however, since I was working directly to elect Obama under the DNC, I have always felt it was important that this blog maintain the same standards for courteous discourse that the campaign itself tried to set. I don't expect that to change in the new "era". The practical impact of that is that, while I am happy for us to have a robust and multifaceted discussion of the issues, I will not feel compelled to publish either blog entries or comments that are dismissive, attacking, personal or unfair.

So far, that actually hasn't been much of a problem - I only had to delete a couple of harsh comments during the campaign. But I'm putting it on record now so no one can accuse me of changing the rules later.

Drop me a line in the comments if you'd liek to write for us, or if you have any thoughts.


Exactly one year ago today, on the 3rd of January 2008, Barack Obama took his first major step towards the Presidency by shocking many pundits and prognosticators with his clear win in the Iowa Caucus. By that point I had already been an eager Obama volunteer for several months, boring my friends and family both here and back home with my enthusiasm for the young Senator from Illinois.

But the folks back in Iowa were working even harder, and thank goodness they were! I happened to get a note from Rick Mullin, a blog reader recently sharing his experience as a caucus organiser on that historic night. I thought I would share it with you:
I occasionally have read your blog and enjoy it. I am a Democratic activist in Iowa, and in my precinct I helped a woman register at our precinct caucus who had flown back to Iowa from London, just to participate and vote for Obama. I was co-chair of the Obama campaign in our county, and was the Obama precinct chair for my neighborhood. Of course we had a huge turnout at our caucus for Obama, and we won our precinct (and obviously the Iowa caucuses.) Some time after that night, I thought about the woman who was so fired up for Obama that she flew to Sioux City from London just to be one more vote for Obama -- and I searched online for Londoners who were backing Obama. That's when I found your blog - good stuff.
I'll send that "good stuff" right back to ya Rick.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Obama London Meeting December 13, 2008

Our post–election planning event was held in the beautiful environs of the Shaw Library at the London School of Economics. Award winning journalist Faisal Al Yafai was kind enough to moderate it for us, and Former State Department Staff member Ted Nist was on hand to give us some insights into the policy process from an administration point of view – a hearty thanks to both of them for their thoughtful contributions.

The major talking point for this meeting was to think about and explore the future of this group in the post-election period. It was universally agreed that the entire group was happy to be members or, and work frequently with and through Democrats Abroad wherever possible. On the other hand, it was also felt that there was an advantage in maintaining an organisation separate from the direct Party hierarchy so that we have the freedom to campaign on specific issues where the Party must remain neutral.

A number of good ideas were suggested that the group might take forward in the next few months.

* To create a lively and interactive blog that will inform our members and serve as a marketing tool to “sell” the policy perspective of American Obama Supporters abroad.
* To create a service project aimed at sponsoring or encouraging foreign travel or life abroad for young Americans who might otherwise not have the oppportunity.
* To create an organisation – “Americans Abroad For Healthcare at Home” – aimed at sharing first person accounts of life under a universal health care scheme, with the goal of influencing both policy makers and the general public.
* To conduct a detailed census or survey to understand the skills, attributes and experience of our members, and their goals and priorities.
* To lobby Congress and the states to make voting easier for Americans Abroad in future elections.

IMPORTANT: Please fill out this survey to indicate your level of interest in each of these suggestions.

Ted pointed out that the US embassy can be a valuable source of dialog with the Administration, and it was suggested that we consider requesting a meeting with the new ambassador when he is appointed to share our unique perspective.

In addition, he felt that our experience as Americans living under a nationalised healthcare system would indeed be a valuable perspective for Tom Daschle, our new Secretary of Health and Human Services, to use as he tries to move America towards a more efficient and fair system. We might consider putting together a research document to collect these first hand accounts.

In general it was agreed that the group is unified in being supporters of President-Elect Obama – therefore while there may be areas where we occassionally disagree with his Administration, or even each other, out goal will always be to play a constructive role in both policy consultations and the implementation of this agenda. To the extent that we have an unusual view of American politics, being a group of Americans Abroad, we will also look for opportunities and issues where that perspective is likely to give make us credible commentators.

In general, however, we all agree that we want to stay active and engaged past inauguration day and to play a first hand role in delivering the change that we need, and for which we have all worked out tails off.

2009 should be quite a year!