Defeat Bush: The Guide
No one is overqualified to work for John Kerry
by Robert Christgau & Ben Reiter
If George Bush is to be defeated this year, he'll be defeated on
the ground. He'll be defeated because we want it more than they want
it. He'll be defeated because we swallow our fantasies of a candidate
who doesn't exist and recognize that John Kerry is a manifestly
superior positive choice. And he'll be defeated not just because we
vote for Kerry, but because we urge cynics and undecideds to vote for
him too. This work will not be easy or neat--new campaign finance
rules make figuring out where to help a job in itself. But no one is
overqualified for it. Don't think blue-staters like us can't make the
difference in swing states. And don't forget that even in New York,
pluralities count--win or lose, every vote for Kerry makes us feel
better and Bush look worse. There are still two or three weeks to
register voters, and there's plenty of follow-up to do in
October. Examine the options outlined below and decide how you might
best donate your time. Then tell your friends to do the same.
The Big Umbrellas
McCain-Feingold doesn't permit the Dems to coordinate the many 527
PACs stoking the anti-Bush fires. The groups below provide invaluable
organization and overview.
The most thorough and coherent website dedicated to anti-Bush
progressivism. Click "Act More" for an extensive listing of volunteer
options. Click "NYC Swingers" (also at
battleground states are your obsession.
ACT (Americans Coming Together): "The largest voter
contact program in history." Enter your zip code at
acthere.com for events near you, or
sign up for anything from letter writing to out-of-state Election Day
MoveOn.org: Get on
their e-mail list and pick an action--pick several actions--from the
dozens Eli Pariser & Co. will throw your way before Election
Women's Voices. Women Vote: Phone banking to register
women voters nationwide. Sign up online
this website to subscribe to the Activate e-newsletter, a
detailed weekly summary of anti-Bush cultural events
The culturally oriented site that birthed Activate. Click
"Participate" for links to youth-targeted anti-Bush and progressive
Be Here Now
You can get involved this week. Pick a project, any project.
Election Protection Training
Saturday, September 18, from 2 to 5, Columbia University Law School,
435 West 116th Street, will host a multi-sponsored training session
for volunteers who can travel to swing states on Election Day to help
protect voting rights. Anyone can enroll, but lawyers, law students,
clergy, and Spanish speakers are at a premium. You must RSVP at the
Get on the bus: Saturday, September 18, at 7:45 a.m.,
buses will take volunteers to talk to voters in Montgomery County,
Pennsylvania. For info and seat reservations call Michelle Shapiro,
212-523-0180, ext. 24, or e-mail
Democracy in the Park
Every Sunday afternoon from 3 until 7 volunteers use their free
cell-phone minutes to canvass swing-state voters for ACT. Active
locations include Central Park at 93rd Street and Central Park West,
Union Square Park at the 14th Street statue, Tompkins Square Park on
the lawn, and McEachron Park (Waterfront Park) in Hastings-on-Hudson
next to the NYC-bound Metro North platform. The group is seeking
organizers to run other sites.
Pennsylvania's next door. New Hampshire's nearby. Maine and Ohio
are within reach. And in this day and age, you can talk to anyone who
doesn't hide behind caller ID.
Citizen Action of New York:
Two-decade-old progressive group has numerous swing-state actions scheduled,
including a Missouri phone bank, Saturday trips to Pennsylvania in October,
an October weekend in Philadelphia, phone projects in other states, and a
massive final Pennsylvania push from October 30 to Election Day. Sign up
at their website
Coordinator: Jesse Dixon, 212-523-0180, ext. 43.
Downtown for Democracy has scheduled an Ohio weekend
($20 for transportation and housing) from September 23 to 26. Contact
Calling Ohio!: Phone banks Monday through Thursday, 6 to
9 p.m., until Election Day at SEIU HQ, 330 West 42nd Street, seventh
Seniors for America: The former Seniors for Dean are
targeting Arizona retirees with a letter-writing campaign. A
hand-written return address will open envelopes, they advise. E-mail
to host a party.
Driving Votes: This grassroots organization (drivingvotes.org) helps road
dogs plan car trips to register voters. Get on this one--most states
end registration Monday, October 4, or a few days earlier. Contact
The Democratic Party We Rode in On
Working against Bush is only half the job. Here's where you get to
work for Kerry. The campaign's Manhattan office is at 1560
Broadway, ninth floor, entrance east of Times Square on 46th Street,
212-764-7104. Walt Townes
is Kerry's New York volunteer coordinator.
Voter Protection: Henry Berger (firstname.lastname@example.org)
signs up and trains attorneys for swing-state residencies from October
30 to November 2. RSVP via e-mail.
Women for Kerry: Julie Ehrlich
"truth squads" Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 in the atrium of the IBM
building, Madison Avenue and 56th Street. Asha Cherian
a women's letters-to-the-editor operation.
Street Teams: Tracy Sabbah (email@example.com) and Seth Williams
target tourist-heavy Manhattan spots for leafleting; Townes, e-mail
above, does the same for street fairs. Training Mondays and Thursday
Swing States: Lisa Malone,
Latino Outreach: Tracy Sabbah,
The All-Important Grunt Work: Last but not least, bring
your laptop to contribute data entry every Thursday at 6 under Bruce
Owens (firstname.lastname@example.org). Meet
at the Kerry office, 1560 Broadway, room 900, entrance east of Times
Square on 46th Street.
Most unions were still regrouping the week after Labor Day, but
consult your shop steward--by press time, that may have changed. If it
hasn't, keep asking--Kerry needs unions and vice versa.
1199 Heroes: Any union member can sign up for this
Service Employees International program, which trains registration
workers. Time's running out, so do it quick: 212-582-1890.
UNITE HERE: The Hotel Employees & Restaurant
Employees union is calling HERE members in battleground states
starting October 4, 5 to 8:30, at 275 Seventh Avenue, 15th floor. Must
sign up with political department, 212-265-7000.
Students for a Democratic Society
Bush did surprisingly well among under-30s in 2000, but he's lost
that edge. Make him pay for that loan you can't afford.
Democracy on the Quad: The campus version of Democracy
in the Park, currently active at the Columbia University medical
campus and Concordia College, and looking to expand citywide. Contact
League of Pissed Off Voters: Coordinating this lively,
iconoclastic, music-aware national group in New York is Naina Khanna
My Vote Will Count: Campus registration drives,
concentrating on getting students from swing states to register at
home and vote absentee
Currently at NYU and Columbia and anticipating rapid expansion.
Fun and Games
The politics of hedonism will never be defeated--assuming we work
Music for America: A "political nonprofit" that aims to
involve a million new progressives in the 2004 election. Click "Take
Action" on its well-designed site
tools to help register voters.
Billionaires for Bush: You've read about them. But did
you know that if you have a flair for character roles, you can be one?
Find out how to dog every step Bush and Cheney take at weekly Tuesday
meetings, 7 p.m., 1 Bond Street, Apartment 5C. Ask for Marco, a/k/a
Monet Oliver d'Place, 201-709-7550.
Run Against Bush: Rouse the electorate by jogging with a
group wearing $25 T-shirts that say, "Run Against Bush"; proceeds go
to swing-state campaigns. Saturdays 11 a.m., in Central Park near
Tavern on the Green, 67th Street and Central Park West, or downtown at
14th Street and the West Side Highway. Also Sundays, 10 a.m., at Grand
Army Plaza, Brooklyn.
Greene Dragon: Street theater in American Revolutionary
drag. Planning meetings 8 p.m. Wednesdays at Kabin, 92 Second
Avenue. E-mail updates:
Village Voice, Sept. 21, 2004