Project Wonderful

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Morning After

Shortly after I began writing CampaignSick, I did a brief stint on a coordinated campaign. Although we won all of our races and I got to work with some operatives who I love and admire, I did not particularly respect the candidate and did not feel respected by many members of the staff, nor did I find the parts of the operation particularly well run. The day after the election, amidst celebration in our headquarters, I sat on an nationwide conference call and burst into tears every time a friend's losing Senate or Congressional race was mentioned. 2010 was a difficult year for Democrats and I was glad to be part of the anomaly that elected several new ones, but I could not fully enjoy my victory disconnected from my compatriots who were hurting all over the country.

I know what it is to give your heart to a race and a candidate, to lose health, wealth and relationships in pursuit of a cause and still come up empty. Although that candidate has been since discredited, I will never forget the sense of loss and disillusionment I felt waking up the day after losing the Iowa caucuses, nor do I really want to.

Today, I experience the exact opposite of the emotions I felt in 2010. For the majority of you who won, I am so, so proud. I hope it's not presumptuous to feel that I share in your victory and take genuine pride in our efforts and your accomplishments. I started crying last night (while still keeping voters on line at the polls) when I read a tweet that Missouri was projecting for McCaskill and have not stopped for more than a full hour since. Every celebratory facebook post, tweet and text message makes me tear up with affection for this special community and for my friends, many of whom have worked tirelessly for our cause for years and are only now experiencing the victories they so richly deserve. I cannot wait to celebrate with you over the coming weeks, at Rootscamp, on the internet, and back in New York City.

A lot has changed in the two years since I started this blog. Given the blessing of my readership it would be hard for me to argue that I am disconnected from anyone this morning. Also given that blessing, I would have been welcomed to spend these last two weeks on a number of races across the country, and indeed received several offers. As you probably know by now, I came to Texas to work as the GOTV Director for Nick Lampson's unsuccessful Congressional bid.

Nick would have been a superlative Congressman, and in fact already was. He is a genuine, warm, intelligent person, experienced politician, and a sincere and passionate advocate for his community. However in fairness, I did not know that when I accepted this position. I came down because a campaign manager I liked and respected asked me to. I had already resolved to leave on the first decent race that offered to pay me and said yes before he had even finished offering me a job. But unlike 2010, I immediately fell in love with the candidate and his campaign staff. Those of you who have worked with me in the past can attest to my high standards, work ethic, and lack of regard for those I find incompetent. Every other time I have come in this late to an operation, I have had to overhaul the field plan, pull a coup d'etat or single handedly recruit an entire campaign's worth of volunteers. Not so here.

There is nothing else these guys could have done, and nothing I would have done differently. They had a campaign and a candidate that were ten times better than the opposition and operated at a level befitting five times the resources they were given. Their field director graciously and without ego welcomed me into his operation and in two weeks he and I have developed the kind of mutual respect and friendship that only comes from shared passion and talent and often takes years to form. His organizers left it all on the field and their enthusiasm and instincts reaffirmed my passion for campaigning and reasons for writing this blog. Working for the Lampson campaign reminded me that there are still truly great candidates and truly wonderful people for me to work with when I finish school. My experience here has left me infinitely more energized and optimistic than when I came down. The only negative emotion I feel is my empathy for my coworkers, knowing the pain that comes with giving it your all and still not reaping the reward. There is no campaign staff in the country with whom I would have rather spent election night, regardless of outcome.

I am going to celebrate with them for a couple of days and then head back to my temporary real/fake life in New York. Won or lost, I am incredibly proud of all of you and I look forward to many celebratory emails and posts in the days to come.

Get some whiskey and sleep!


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