Thursday, September 18, 2008

Smears Lead to Smiles, As Supporters Unite!

A few days ago, my grandmother forwarded me another of the endless stream of inaccurate, lie filled email that have been circulating the internet regarding Barack Obama. She sends me this stuff when she gets it so I can be aware of what is being said and stay informed. This was a particularly egregious email, which claimed to be an article by Maureen Dowd. It accused Obama of, among other things, violating campaign contribution laws and significantly getting much if not most of his money from muslims in Saudia Arabia, Iran and the like.

Of course, I couldn't take this sitting down. I immediately drafted a letter clearing up the inaccuracies and setting the record straight (text below). I took the liberty of sending it out to the hundred or so email addresses it had gone to before reaching me.

I didn't expect a response, but almost immediately I received several emails from different people thanking me for putting things right and making sure people don't get these kind of smears without a response. One individual, a man from Colorado, was so kind in his remarks that I had to respond with a request for him to get more involved in the Obama Campaign. He assured me he is quite involved, and shared with me a story that I think you will find very inspiring.

I am taking the liberty of publishing this little exchange here on my blog because I believe it demonstrates the power of this campaign and how it really is fundamentally changing the way we interact with our government for the better.

His amazing story

Dear Adam,

Thanks for you kind and encouraging words. I too am a volunteer for Sen Obama and have contributed as much as I am able to his campaign, and work as hard as I can for him. Here in Colorado, Democrats realize our importance as a swing state In the upcoming election. I truly believe the turnout of Democrats on election day in our state will be enormous. Quickly I would like to share an interesting story. We are a caucus state here in Colorado and the night they were held was really amazing. I have been active in Democratic politics here my whole life and witnessed something that night that I have never seen before. My caucus was to start that night at 6:30 pm. I tried to be prudent and arrived about 45 minutes early and as I drove up I couldn't believe what I saw! A line that stretched at least 2 miles around the an enormous auditorium of a local community college and well on down the street. We couldn't get the caucus started till 10:00 pm because that's how long it took to get all the people checked in and into the building. The caucus goers attending were 10-1 in favor of Senator Obama. I have been to every caucus since my father would take me as a small boy in the late 60's and have never seen a turnout remotely close to that night. Having talked to friends who were at other caucuses , it was an identical situation. There is every reason to expect the same turnout for the general election. Colorado will come thru, of that I have no doubt. Thanks again for all your hard work and lets hope it all pays off on November 4th.

My response:

Wow! What an amazing story. You see, despite all the smears and negativity going around, it is moments like this, when Americans come together to show their patriotism and passion for democracy, when we transcend states and bridge generations, that I feel proud to be an American. I am a 23 year old law student, so while I have been very involved in politics also since a young age, I did not witness the struggles of your generation, and my parents generation. It feels really incredible that across boundaries of class, race, age, sex, sexual orientation, even party affiliation, Americans have a campaign they can come together around and feel proud to be a part of.

The original email, in response to the lying smear email:

Dear Friends,

Unsurprisingly, this email is blatantly false on several counts. I encourage you to try and find this particular article by Maureen Dowd on the NY Times Website. You won't... because it doesn't exist. Ms. Dowd never wrote this article, and with good reason: its claims are 100% untrue.

By law, only citizens of the United States are allowed to make donations to political campaigns. It is illegal and impossible for Muslim extremists from other countries to be making contributions to Obama's campaign, and if it were true you better believe it would be on the cover of every newspaper in the country.

Obama's campaign raised the largest amount of money ever this past month - $66 million - including contributions from 500,000 new donors. His campaign has received individual donations from over TWO MILLION american citizens. This is a stunning and revolutionary achievement in campaign financing. Instead of being beholden to the ultra rich and Political Action Committees and lobbyists- the people underwriting John McCain's campaign - Barack Obama is powered by the diffuse interests of ordinary Americans. The average campaign contribution to his campaign is only $68. Even poor people are giving $5 or $10 to this campaign because they know Barack Obama is a different kind of candidate who is going to represent US, the American People, and not the Special Interests in Washington DC.

I encourage people to be active participants in our democracy and not just believe every lie-filled email that comes their way.

Adam Schwartzbaum

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