Wednesday, January 4, 2012
What A Long Strange Trip It's Been
It's late October of 2010. I'm standing in a Connecticut auditorium with 10,000 other people. Barack Obama has just finished speaking. I'm wearing a staff badge and a red Organizing for America t-shirt.
My boss, my organizer and I are all crying. All three of us are exhausted, but satisfied and grinning through our tears at the lucky ten volunteers we've selected to meet the President. My boss is crying because we've just organized and orchestrated an event with the President three days before the midterm election with precious little resources and even less time. My organizer is crying because she's never heard the President speak before. And I'm crying because...well, it's complicated.
Imagine the same scenario a little over three years earlier. I'm exhausted and crying in an auditorium full of cheering Democrats, enervated but excited by the opportunity I've been able to provide my volunteers. Barack Obama has just given a speech so similar to the one mentioned above that in my mind's eye they are one and the same. Trade my red t-shirt for a white one that says "John Edwards for President." Move the auditorium about 1200 miles Westward. I'm at the 2007 Iowa Jefferson Jackson dinner.
In 2007, I'm crying because I hate the people in the red shirts. I've uprooted my life to work under high pressure at what amounts minimum wage because John Edwards is clearly the only candidate with the substance and experience to pass a health care bill, and to my mind the most progressive on LGBT rights and on education. I just don't get what people see in Barack Obama.*
I've often compared campaigns, particularly that one, to being in love and losing to having your heart broken. It sounds dramatic but I believe it to be apt. To be in love you need to believe that your relationship is worth sacrificing for. You put up with things in the name of future happiness. When it works out, it's amazing and when it doesn't you feel like a fool. I was so convinced that John Edwards HAD to be the next President, as if it were a matter of life and death. But the amazing thing about having our hearts broken is that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable again. Because as much as it hurt, we wouldn't be the same person without it.
I love when things come full circle. There's something beautiful about the cyclical nature of campaigns. The zen of election day, the rhythm of call time. Just like love, there's something about it that you will never understand unless you experience it. It's corny, but it's who I am.
That's why I was crying in Connecticut and that's why I drove up to New Hampshire today. That's why I write this blog. That's why no matter where I am or what I become, I will always be a field organizer.
It's been an emotional day. As my broworker Renner would say, I can't Marcus Bachmann away my feelings anymore. Infinite, infinite love to him and my entire campaign family. The truth is, I would do it all again if it meant I got to know you.
Peace, Love and Walklists,
*It should be noted that after Iowa I came to accept that I am a horrible judge of character.