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Maureen J Andrade
I'm a writer and artist from the Pacific Northwest. Progressive and practical, I believe politics should never be a winner-take-all game, but rather a healthy relationship between people and their leadership.
My community’s local office for Organizing for America is in a strip mall on Fourth Plain BLVD. It’s not slick, but is functional, clean, and enthusiastically decorated with campaign posters. The doors are open seven days a week, from morning until night; and the place has a skeleton crew of staffers and full time volunteers that keep it going. It’s the friendliest place in my hometown, and somewhere I comfortably bring my children to learn about the democratic process.
Our office’s Debate Watch Party last week was well organized and packed with people. Like the Convention Watch Party before it, I was there writing and taking photos as part of my volunteer duties. I had a good feel for the mood in the room since my job was to pay attention. In a journalistic fashion, I had conversations with many folks, and watched for reactions to the debate.
At the end of the evening the mood in the room was subdued but focused. The differences between the candidates couldn’t be clearer, and everyone at the watch party knew it was important to sign up to canvas for our president. Not once did anyone mention Romney winning the debate, only the lies he told. Dishonesty matters to these voters.
After I got home, and put my kids to bed, I turned on MSNBC to see what the pundits said. To my surprise, Chris Matthews was barking like an angry pit about Pres. Obama’s performance. While watching the debate, I took note of our president’s calm demeanor, quick wit, and plaintive tone. It had seemed completely appropriate to me how he performed. Why then the disconnect with the pundits I usually agree with?
Later, I figured out why my experience at headquarters was so different than that of the media: I’m a volunteer. I’ve chosen to help the campaign by putting in many hours and donating the best of my skills; though I put in a fraction of the time staffers and some volunteers put in. My perception was different because I’m in it.
Campaigning is hard work…it’s a full time job for thousands of people. And everyone involved is battle fatigued but still fighting. The causes we fight for give us the energy and passion to continue. From the very intimate (women’s health) to the global (foreign relations), the issues at stake in 2012 are pivotal.
When Pres. Obama didn’t come out last Wednesday and seduce the crowd, it’s because it shouldn’t have been necessary. He’s been working his fingers to the bone for four years for us and is willing to do it all over again. There’s nothing for him to prove. I was pissed the pundits jumped on him. Grow up Chris Matthews, I thought, Obama’s fatigued but still fighting.
At the OFA office, we’re a tired bunch, but we still have a lot of work to do, too. Obama’s volunteers continue to show up in greater numbers to knock on doors and make calls. This moment will pass, and the battle will be over. Every one of us will know we did our best. I believe our efforts this year matter, and we’ll ultimately be successful. I feel in 2013, our president will take that oath once more.