Obama Special – Barack’s Delhi Boys

Barack's Backroom Boys in Delhi

How Delhi’s Democrats helped Obama become the US Prez.

[By Carolyn Sauvage-Mar, the chair, Democrats Abroad-India. She was elected Delegate for Obama to the Democratic National Convention; picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Barack Obama is the next American President. Wow.

We Democrats in Delhi, along with the rest of their counterparts in India and the US, were seriously optimistic about electing Barack Obama to be our next President. However, having been in the opposition for eight long years, we had gotten used to… well, losing.

During the months of campaigning, a friend of mine looked me in the eye and said, “You realise that we’re going to win, right?” I actually hadn’t ever thought that thought, consciously, until he said it out loud. We were too busy organising voter outreach, helping any US citizen we could find in India to vote. Filling out the forms. Explaining deadlines and rules for 50 states. Making sure that signatures were right, addresses correct.

For sure. this was a busy year for Delhi’s Democrats. We did voting registration at Khan Market, held an election special dating game at the American Embassy School, campaigned for Obama in Lodhi Garden, screened his Democrat convention speech at Vasant Continental hotel, organised video-conferencing with his campaign officials in Defence Colony, did ‘phone-banking’ events at private homes in Golf Links, Sundar Nagar and Shanti Niketan and put up a polling booth at Lodhi Colony’s Ploof restaurant.

Remembering that the 2004 margin of Republican victory in Ohio was nine votes per precinct – enough, just enough, to put Bush back into the White House for four more years. The bitterness of that defeat still lingers. None of us Dems in India were going to concede this election by a lousy nine votes per precinct.

So here we were: at the threshold of the result of an historic election. Barack Obama has finally changed the storyline in American politics. He has challenged us to believe in hope, in change. And so, the mood among Democrats in India shifted from determined opposition to excitement, anticipation, and that distinctively American, slightly gooey feeling of optimism and patriotism.

This is what Obama supporters were doing in India: they called voters in the US to remind them to vote and gave each individual voter information about where their polling place was located.

This is what Obama supporters did not do in India: predicting we would win, or planning “victory” parties that could jinx the outcome. Instead, we got six cities planning Election Watch breakfasts and Get Down With Democracy gatherings.

Come to think of it, hope may not trump superstition, but hard work always pays off.

[The author lives in Safdarjang Enclave]