In September and October, MCYD was proud to help host four youth leaders from Denmark as they volunteered for President Obama in Virginia & Pennsylvania, and for marriage equality here in Maryland. Below is a guest blog post from the Social-Liberal Youth of Denmark’s International Officer Henrik Andersen!
My name is Henrik and I am the International Officer of The Social-Liberal Youth of Denmark. In September and October I spent a couple of weeks – alongside the President, the Head of Secretariat and the Campaigns Officer of our organization – in Maryland, Pennsylvania, D.C. and New York volunteering in and following some of the work you guys did in the Obama campaign.
So first of all: Congratulations! We have been anxiously following the presidential election ever since we returned to Denmark. What a relief that Obama was reelected! And with such a wide margin. You can be proud of yourselves – good job!
We learned a lot during our stay in the U.S. We were surprised, intrigued and (we have to admit) a bit confused by the way you run a campaign in the States. So you might be interested in some of the differences between what we experience at home and what we experienced visiting you guys.
First of all, you guys have fixed election dates – we don’t. There has to be an election every four years but in the four year term, the prime minister can at any time call for an election. Therefore, our campaigns usually last no longer than three weeks – which we find is more than enough. How you guys pull off several months of hardcore campaigning is still a mystery to us. We are impressed.
Secondly, every single citizen in Denmark is automatically a registered voter. The average percentage of turn-out for a parliamentary election is well into the 80’s. Therefore, it surprised us how much time you guys spent getting out the vote and activating potential supporters.
Thirdly, it was interesting taking part in a campaign where the margin of undecided voters was as small as it appeared to be in this election. We spent a lot of time phone banking, canvassing and finding potential supporters. The use of canvassing and phone banking is very little in Denmark and the openness of the voters was a bit surprising.
In general we had a very nice trip and we tried to contribute as much as possible. We learned a lot and still got to see the “mandatory” touristy stuff. So once again: Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity!