11/16/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Even if You Can't Schlep, Talk to Your Grandparents About Obama


This message is exclusively for Obama supporters who: 1) Have grandparents who are planning to vote for John McCain or are undecided about their choice for President and 2) Know someone whose grandparents are voting for John McCain or are undecided about their choice for President.

Even before comedian Sarah Silverman made her hilarious video encouraging young Jewish Obama supporters to blackmail "Papa and Nana" into voting for Obama by threatening to withhold a visit, I have been urging younger voters to save the deep policy discussions and simply tell their elders to "Do it for me!" I'd like to claim full credit, but this was an idea brought to me by Bill Payne of New Jersey, brother of my colleague, Congressman Donald Payne.

As soon as he said it, I saw the potential of this idea. I have been overwhelmed and inspired by the passion and commitment of young Obama volunteers and supporters everywhere I have traveled as one of the national co-chairs of Barack's campaign. Harnessing that energy for the purpose of moving older voters toward Barack Obama seemed like a natural.

Oh sure, there are plenty of good and substantive arguments why anyone over age 65 is a fool to vote for John McCain, who supports the Bush plan of privatizing Social Security, for crying out loud. Many seniors actually are crying out loud because the plummeting stock market has taken such a big bite out of their retirement investments. Imagine the desperation they would feel if even a part of their Social Security had been dependent on the stock market. It is not a pretty picture.

On top of risking the "security" part of Social Security, John McCain plans to pay, in part, for his foolish health care proposal by taking money from Medicare and Medicaid, much of which goes to pay the cost of nursing home care. The goofy McCain plan is not just "more of the same" as Bush's, it is even worse. His plan would, for the very first time in history, tax as income the value of employer provided health care benefits. In exchange he would give each family a $5,000 tax credit to purchase health insurance, perhaps not noticing that the average family policy costs $12,000. Requiring seniors to help pay for this plan is nothing short of elder abuse.

One could point out that Barack Obama has pledged to protect Social Security benefits and not raise the age of eligibility, improve Medicare, especially the drug benefit, and eliminate all income taxes for seniors whose income is $50,000 or less. Get it? Eliminate your taxes. Such a deal!

But let's face it. There are still older people who, for all kinds of reasons - some they can articulate and some that probably shouldn't be said out loud - are still "not comfortable" voting for Barack Obama. You can intelligently make all of the rational arguments and probably still won't convince them.

I am suggesting that you save you breath. The one thing most grandparents have in common is that they have the most wonderful grandchildren in the world - so clever, so handsome, so pretty, ever so precious. Even if you are still unsure of your path in life, and even if your parents and friends occasionally wonder about you, your grandma and grandpa love you and have faith in you.

That is your weapon! "Precious" needs to get on the phone and say, "Grandpa, Grandma, I am asking you to vote for Barack Obama. This is really important to me. It's about my future. It's about the world I will be living in. It's about the world I want for my future children. (They will love that one!) Please! Do it for me!"

Put some urgency in your voice. Sound very disappointed in them if they give you excuses. Come back again, even harder. "This is about my future - my ability to get a good job, to live a healthy life, to have the same (or even more) opportunities than you had to succeed. I have never felt more strongly about anything. I am begging you to vote for Barack Obama. I need you to do this for me!"

This is just a sample script. You know what it takes to get to them. You've probably been doing it all your life. But never before has your exalted position of Grandchild been as important and productive as it can be right now.

The really great part of this strategy is that everything you could possibly say to your grandparents about how important Barack's election is for you is one hundred percent true. The most important reason to convince them to vote for Barack Obama is that your future really does depend on it. Give them a call right now. Do it for yourself!

Pass this message on.