Tag Archives: phone-banking

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.

Passive:my precinct people prefer their couches

Passive: receiving or subjected to an action without responding or initiating an action in return; not participating, acting or operating; inert.

Precinct: a subdivision or district of a city; an election district.

Clark County WA has 175 precincts. I’m the precinct officer (Democratic) for my neighborhood of a couple thousand homes.

At the caucuses in February we had an enormous turnout across the county and about 100 from my precinct alone.  Everyone was jazzed. I took names and phone numbers.

Now the rubber is meeting the road and we need all hands on deck to get out the word about Obama and the other Democratic candidates.  So I decided to host a wine/cheese thing at my house next weekend to round up some of that energy and see if I couldn’t get some help covering the neighborhood (it’s big).

I made 31 calls Sunday afternoon and sent out a bunch of chirpy emails to these most motivated folks.  What is the sound of one voice talking???   I felt like I was talking into a big hole. I left 20 messages, five were unreachable, and I talked to six people. Three said they’d come and two said they might be able to help (sort of…) but couldn’t make it next weekend.   One said she was a Hillary person and did not want to participate at all.

Two days have passed since I left those messages and sent out my very personal emails.  Only one person has called me back – a young mother of three pre-schoolers who can only do something from home.

I feel pretty deflated right now.  I suppose it could be worse: I could live in Alabama.

It’s easy to pontificate from a couch; we need feet on the pavement.