Thursday, June 4, 2009

Operatives to Orphans: The Lives of Political Campaign Workers

It’s not everyday that a really well-written article is done about campaign people. Usually the press ignores us because people don’t want to read about our lives - they don’t like the dirty work we do. But an insightful article in Good Magazine gives a wonderful exploration into the lives of former Obama campaign staff.

Overall, the article is a bit critical of the Obama campaign, perhaps not understanding the nature of the game.

"They had quit jobs, left colleges and grad schools, and ended relationships for something larger than themselves. At its peak, the campaign employed roughly 6,000 full-time workers. It seduced them with its patriotic promise, and the innocent were drawn out of the usual apathy and into what seemed an absolute purpose. With the movement now behind them, with sleeping bags and laptops and a decent shirt and pair of shoes, they drove to Washington, D.C., hopeful that Barack Obama might again give them something to do…

…Joshua was hired as a field officer for the campaign. Now, after happy hour, he walks to his car, a 1999 Toyota that he had driven from Ohio and which, for the past two months, has been his home."

Actually, it’s quite a phenomenon how so many Obama campaign workers are stuck in Washington, trying to get jobs specifically connected with the new president. In January the Obama transition team received over 350,000 applications for about 4,000 available slots in the upcoming administration.

And although their passion for Obama specifically is a new story, the general sense of the article is one that any campaign person can attest to personally.

Obama Staff on Election Night

"The days immediately following Barack Obama’s victory were intensely strange for these people. After the steady crescendo of anxiety and passion that climaxed on election night in a sort of national orgasm, the full-staff was left particularly limp. Returning to society was, after the manic frenzy that defined their campaign lives, a steep downer. And since the economic crisis, the financial meltdown, the Great Recession or whatever we eventually term the winter’s bad news, it became clear to them that life’s simple solutions, as they were, had run dry."

Although it is hard and exhausting work, it is something of a high. Be warned - prospective campaign people - about the crash that comes later.

We highly suggest reading this article.

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