With the election now only 2 weeks away, it's all hands on deck for those of us who want to see Barack Obama become the next president. The question that so many people ask themselves is: What can I do to help? Well, it depends on who you are. Here are some ideas for all sorts of people, of which you must certainly be one.
Average Joe Liberal - First of all, you're more common than the media wants to believe. You're also much more awesome than Joe Sixpack (what a hero - an American drunkard) and Joe the Plumber (who needs to call himself to unclog the pipes of all the bullshit Republicans have said about him. Or at least call a real plumber). You, Joe Liberal, can do some very simple things: First and foremost, vote. Even if you're in a state like California or New York where Obama has it locked up, your vote does matter a great deal as a voice, if not a single ballot that will win or lose a presidency. You can also volunteer, make phone calls to swing states, donate money, and encourage your friends to vote.
Angry Liberal - Hey, I get it. Shhhh...I know. 8 years of Bush and Cheney, Katherine Harris, Swift Boating, the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, creationism, Chief Justice Roberts, being told that you don't live in the "real America" or that you don't love your country because you dare to criticize it when necessary. I get scream-at-the-TV angry, too. I get it.
What you can do, Angry Liberal, is to chill out. Don't be sarcastic. Don't be condescending. Don't forward hilarious emails about how much better blue states are than red states (even though the email is totally empirically accurate). Don't be Janeane Garofalo venting all of her rage at a conservative on "Real Time," even though he deserves it, and even though it feels very good and very justified.
Basically, don't sink to their level. A unique opportunity is at hand. This election has shown that the ugly, divisive side of politics is not working, so don't get suckered into a dirty street fight. This is not to say don't fight back - I'm not promoting John Kerryism. I'm saying fight in a dignified manner, and let them continue to drown themselves in their own bile. Because if Obama does in fact win, we will for the first time in what feels like an eternity have a chance to put our stamp on the country as progressives. That means swallowing our anger and being more Christ-like than the so-called religious conservatives and turning the other cheek. Obama actually can heal our country, and we need to follow the example he is trying to set.
Celebrity - Ask yourself this one very important question: Do people hate me? Because if people can't stand you, you're not doing Obama any favors by going on Larry King to endorse him. Basically, here's the measuring stick: If you play Jason Bourne, everyone thinks you're awesome. Go nuts, hold press conferences, travel to swing states. If you're just about anyone else, then just sit down, shut your mouth, and write a big fat check. Because this is not something that's going to be uttered once this fall: "Holy crap! Barbara Streisand just endorsed Obama! I gotta re-think this McCain thing."
Friend of a Racist - This is to everyone, because we all have at least one racist friend. The question is just how racist the person is. Is it an Ozarks-level racist? They're probably beyond reach. Is it a "I hope that black person doesn't talk during the movie" racist? Well, since that IS you, and you're already voting for Obama, we don't need to focus there. It's people who fall in the middle who we need to identify and assuage. Find 5 such racists and talk to them. Don't try to "fix" them and change all their views - that's a lost cause. Quote parts of Barack's speech on race, or point out that, regardless of color, voting for Barack is in their own self interests. That's the trump card this election.
Jews - Call your grandma in Florida. Tell her that, in exchange for an Obama vote, you'll bring home a really nice girl in time for the holidays.
Joe Biden - Shut...the...F...up. Get an Obama/David Plouffe approved script and never, ever veer from it. Go to your rally, read your script, silently shake hands, go home. Lather, rinse, repeat. Pretend you're in a David Mamet directed film: NO improvising.
Look, bro, even before your selection to the ticket I've long admired you, but your usefulness has been served already: You've shown that Barack can make a presidential decision in wisely choosing you as his running mate, and you were masterful in your debate, a rare mix of cool, collected, and dignified that left voters feeling that should something awful happen, you would ascend to the highest office in the land without a hitch. Now, however, what you can do (besides, again, never going off script) are really small things. Really small. Like, maybe renting a 13 passenger van and driving voters to the polls in Scranton, where I think I once heard you say you were from. Or have MoveOn.org buy a bunch of sheet pizzas which you can deliver to people waiting in line for early voting. Stuff like that.
Bring Barney Frank, John Murtha, and John Kerry with you on the Laryngitis Tour.
Hillary Clinton - Campaign your tail off for Obama, especially in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, states where you performed well during the primaries. If you do this, I'm sure we can come up with a mutually beneficial arrangement. Perhaps Jeffrey Katzenberg will pay off one million dollars in campaign debt per day of campaigning...with time and a half for evening rallies to working class whites.
Bill Clinton - First of all, let me say this: You're a former Rhodes Scholar, I got an A in my Steven Spielberg class at Syracuse University, which is known as "The Harvard of Syracuse, New York." You're the best president of the last 40 years, I used to write on "McEnroe" which routinely used to get upwards of 40 viewers per night. You have Paul Begala and Warren Buffett on speed dial, I laughed earlier this evening when my dog farted and startled herself out of a nap. My point is that you shouldn't be reading me! My God! You're Bill freakin' Clinton! I'm Jack Helmuth! My mom hasn't heard of me. Find better advisers than me, or at least better uses of your time. That being said, since I have your attention...
YOU can pretend that you like Obama. No more "Letterman" appearances where you mention his name once in a 45 minute sitdown. You're one of our greatest actors at saying things firmly that you don't believe. Let's see more of that. Just two weeks of this behavior and we'll leave you to make your tens of millions of dollars a year from...well, in exchange we won't ask.
Colin Powell - You've already done so much, but...give Barack TWO little days. One day at a big rally in Norfolk, Virginia, for the military servicemen and women and their families who could be persuaded by you, and then a second day in Florida telling old Jews that Obama only wants to sit down with Ahmadinejad to secretly, under the table, kick him in the balls (without precondition) for talking smack about Barack's second favorite country of all-time: Israel. Just two days, General Powell, and you could have an impact on two states that could be decided by a few thousand votes. Plus, you'd dominate two more days of the news cycle, burning them off the calendar.
Sarah Palin - Just keep doing what you're doing, baby! Keep doing what you're doing!
Barack Obama - I'm guessing that you most of all want an Obama win. What you can do is stop making campaign stops in places like North Carolina and, instead, step on McCain's proverbial neck by spending the last week of the campaign in Pennsylvania (where he is seemingly placing all his eggs), Ohio, and Florida. Spend money in those fringe places, not time. You have run a brilliant campaign, putting states in play that we would've never dreamed of even six months ago. However, now is not the time to get greedy. 320 electoral votes would be cool...but you just need 270 to win. That's the only number that matters. Hammer McCain in those three states. Go to every IHOP in Harrisburg, Cleveland, and Boca Raton. Win PA and you've almost certainly got it locked up. Win 2 of those 3 states and you're in the White House, guaranteed.
Don't be cute. A win by a slim margin is a win. After the last 8 years, that's all we want.