Passover

Since today is Primary Day in Maryland, I’d thought I’d devote this post to some of the pictures I’ve taken of the Bernie Sanders campaign office that’s currently located at 9066 Baltimore Avenue in College Park, Maryland.

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The office is currently in a space that was once occupied by a family-owned florist shop known as Woods Florist. (That florist, now known as Woods Flowers and Gifts, is still in College Park in a store that’s located a block away from its former place.)

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Amenities include a greenhouse that has plenty of empty pots and brown plants that look like they have been dead for a very long time.

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Aside from the dead plants in the greenhouse, the other rooms are pretty nice and clean. There are all kinds of festive Bernie decorations up.

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There were plenty of drinks and snacks available for the volunteers.

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The office doesn’t have a television set but it has the next best thing: online streaming where the broadcasts are projected on to a wall from a projector attached to a computer doing the streaming.

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Watching the last Democratic debate on April 14, 2016 between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton before the New York primaries that were held on April 14.

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For phone banking we volunteers were loaned what were called “Berner Phones” which were basically flip top cell phones.

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The tools of the phone banking trade: a Berner Phone for calling, a Chromebook for doing the virtual phone banking (where we had to record the results of each call), and a bell that we would ring every time someone we called said that he/she is willing to volunteer with the Bernie Sanders campaign in order to get out the vote for today’s Maryland primary.

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Sometimes a volunteer is given a Chrome tablet instead of a Chromebook.

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A couple of volunteers hard at work on phone banking in an effort to get out the vote and win the state of Maryland for Bernie Sanders.

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One night, on April 19 (a week before the Maryland primary), the office had gotten a hold of two Shell gift cards (one was for $20 and the other for $10) so they decided to award them to the two volunteer phone bankers who were able to recruit the most new volunteers. I won second place that evening because I managed to get two people to sign up as volunteers. (The person who won the $20 card managed to recruit three or four people.) That $10 gift card definitely came in handy the next time I needed to put gas in my card.

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The office usually had drinks and snacks (mainly crackers and candy) available for the volunteers to consume. Sometimes a generous person with plenty of money might make a nice purchase for the volunteers. One night when I was at the office a really generous person decided to buy carry-out pizzas from the nearby Pizza Hut along with some a plate full of fresh fruit and vegetables.

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On Tuesday, April 19 a group of volunteers did either door-to-door canvassing or phone banking until 9 p.m. Afterwards everyone hung around waiting for the returns from the New York primary while socializing with each other. (Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary while Donald Trump won on the Republican side. They both had home court advantage and pollsters had predicted their victory so it wasn’t a major surprise.)

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I have to admit that there were times when it got tiring doing drudgery like phone banking, especially when I managed to get a woman who belligerently asked me how much will Bernie Sanders raise her taxes, which kind of floored me because the list we were using were all supposed to be at least sympathetic to Sanders. I remember telling the woman that people who made more than $250,000 per year would see a tax increase and she didn’t believe me. (I didn’t make up that fact. I got my information from numerous articles like this one.)

But then there were the times when I felt that it was all worthwhile whenever I managed to recruit a new volunteer to Sanders get out the vote campaign in Maryland. There were also some pleasant surprises. A couple of nights ago the Berner phone I was using suddenly announce an incoming text message. I was pleasantly surprised with this.

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It was based on that now-legendary incident when a bird appeared at one of Bernie Sanders’ rallies.

Sure the technology available could’ve enabled me to do phone banking in the privacy of my own home. I never took advantage of that because I would’ve felt very isolated, especially if a certain call turned out to be less than pleasant. At least doing it in the office I could commiserate with other volunteers over the less-pleasant phone calls.

The best thing about working in that office is that I got to meet a variety of people whom I would have never met otherwise. I saw college students, young professionals, middle-aged adults, and senior citizens of all races and ethnic groups go in and out of that office. Some of the volunteers came from other states but the vast majority were Maryland residents like myself.

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