I’m not a political person. I’ve never been involved in a campaign before, but like most things – I’m willing to try anything once, especially when I believe in it or I feel I can learn something from it. Kind of like Fantasy Football. I had never done that before and thought I’d give it a whirl last year. I learned a lot. I’m not doing it again this year. See? Stuff like that.
When I say “campaigning” many people have no idea what that actually involves. I didn’t. I knew so little that when I attended the first strategy meeting on August 1st to see where I might be useful, I left the meeting feeling nauseous. I realized it would be an uphill battle and knew that my work ethic would not allow a half-assed approach. So when I say “campaigning” here is what I am talking about: attending strategy meetings – planting candidate signs by the side of the road in the dark – wearing political branding to festivals, social events, ballgames – manning booths at vendor fairs and talking to the community, championing your cause – going door-to-door canvassing – standing in parking lots at voting precincts for hours in the blistering sun convincing complete strangers that your candidate is the most qualified – managing a volunteer schedule, trying to figure out how
to make a dozen people become 100 – getting materials to volunteers while manning a precinct yourself – giving people directions when they cannot find their assigned precinct and picking up all the signs you put out when the election is over – oftentimes doing all of the above things with children in tow and committing to a full-time career that does not involve campaigning.
And then there are unexpected aspects of the campaign that wear on your mentality – like when you’re yelled at by other volunteers for crossing 1 foot over the red line (the boundary separating electioneers from the entrance to the precinct) so that you can talk to a fellow veteran who will appreciate that your candidate is the wife of a 32-year Army vet and you want to lash back but you realize that you’re wearing branding that reflects on your candidate and so you find a way to respond with a smile and simply say “Thank you” – or when you hear volunteers of your opponents tell voters complete lies about their candidate’s qualifications and you want to tell the voter the truth but by doing so, you realize the drama that will ensue will distract you from your mission and irritate your voter – or figuring out how to adequately answer a voter’s question about your candidate without lying but while also satisfying their concern – – – it’s all so absolutely exhausting.
I will be forever grateful to the dozens of friends who supported me and/or voted for my friend simply based on my referral. Your faith in my judgement means the world to me. As I reflect on the campaign and this past election season, I thought I’d share some stand-out observations based on my experience and things I’ve learned along the way:
- If done right, campaigning is the one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. I had not felt that level of mental, emotional and physical fatigue since Boot Camp 22 years ago.
- Republicans are mean. They just are. I realize it’s a gross generalization but it’s based on what I experienced directly and how I watched them treat other people. While at the polls, I was yelled at, challenged, mocked and disrespected…all by Republican volunteers.
- The candidate I was supporting for a nonpartisan race is a registered Republican.
- 100 people will tell you they will do anything to help with your campaign; only 20 of them actually mean it.
- Signs are prohibited in the medians. Voters need to know that every sign they see in a median are put there by candidates (or their representatives) in violation of the law. (One of my pet peeves)
- Most people have no idea what they are talking about and know very little about the election process and related terminology – the difference between a ballot, a sample ballot, a nonpartisan position and what it means to be unaffiliated vs. independent vs. libertarian, are just a few areas where the average voter has no clue. The difficulty is, they don’t know they have no clue.
- If you live in NC, you cannot be registered “Independent.” You are registered as “Unaffiliated” if you choose not to identify yourself with any one of the 3 political parties.
- I am registered Unaffiliated.
- Many people actually want to learn about their local candidates. It’s a welcoming shift from those who just vote using the sample party ballot cheat sheets provided by members of the Republican and Democratic committees – which is a very dangerous way to vote.
- Voters can be hateful. On 2 occasions, a Democratic blue ballot was taken from a Democratic volunteer, ripped to shreds and thrown in the volunteer’s face. One voter just simply made a point to crumble it in the volunteer’s face and threw it in the trashcan. I would have preferred that they both recycle it. (See point #2 above.)
- Democrats are some of the nicest people I met on the campaign trail – volunteers and voters alike.
- Americans are so desperate for “change”, that they will compromise their morals, ethics and human decency by voting an indisputably sexist, racist, xenophobic bully into the highest office of the nation. A scary truth.
- I postponed gallbladder surgery until after the election so that I could be available to help with my friend’s campaign. I didn’t have 1 gallstone attack during the entire early voting process – which takes me to point #14.
- Jesus answers prayers.
- As a woman and the mother of a little girl, it was particularly painful for me as I stood in parking lots every day for 3 weeks of voting to see other women come to vote for Donald Trump. Instead of “change”, they voted for the same thing we’ve had for 227 years.
- I have never worked on a campaign before. I told my dear friend Connie Jordan at the end of July that I would do whatever I could to help her win her race. When I am in, I’m all in. If I go down, I go down fighting. It was truly one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. I’m so proud of my local hero. She did not win her race but we ran a clean campaign filled with passion and conviction. I would do it all over again.