Perspiration and perseverance: campaign staffers

Perspiration: n. the process of sweating

Perseverance: n.  steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success

In 2006 I hosted a young woman who had taken a semester off college to work as a field organizer for Senator Maria Cantwell’s re-election campaign.  This year I’m hosting a gal who’s come down from Governor Gregoire’s campaign office in Seattle to work on her re-election bid against the smarmy Dino Rossi (bought and paid for by the Building Industry of Wsahington) in SW Washington.

It’s easy to host a campaign staffer, because you NEVER see them. They go to work by 9am and don’t get home till 10 or 11 at night. In between they are getting crooked necks from being on the phone all the time. They talk to voters, recruit and schedule volunteers, arrange trainings and candidate events, raise money, talk to more voters, talk to more volunteers, talk to more donors and more voters.

Occasionally they get out to doorbell around town for the candidates in the rain and heat and cold. They subsist (barely) on coke, coffee, cold pizza and stale cookies. 

It is a life only a young person could tolerate. Thank God for their energy and enthusiasm! They are what make campaigns happen. Obama would be toast without them. I am in awe of them.

And what do these staffers get out of it besides a modest salary and a 50-50 chance of winning (or losing)?

They get unbelievably useful life skills which come from confronting some of our worst fears. Think about it: making phone calls to strangers, trying to influence others’ political views, asking strangers for money, knocking on doors where you know no one, training novices of all ages and abilities to do tasks that terrify them (phoning, door-knocking, etc).  To many, that’s Life in Hell.

But after the 100th phone call or door-knock, they realize it’s no big deal, really. They learn “it’s not about me…”  It can be pretty exhilarating to break through these psychological barriers. 

A glutton for punishment, my current visiting staffer says that when the campaign is over she will look for work fund-raising for a non-profit.  Her future boss will be thrilled to have someone so skilled. She says it will be like a vacation.

3 responses to “Perspiration and perseverance: campaign staffers

  1. I’m sending my son over to you when he’s old enough.

  2. So, dear Scatterbrain, are you hoping we’ll whip him into shape because right now he’s just a layabout, or do you think he’s perfectly suited for the life of a campaign staffer?

  3. Always trying to whip him into shape, although he’s not too lazy for a teenager.