Why I am stepping away from Politics (not a rant about people.)
by JDF, Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 08:59:00 AM EST
I know that I am not one of the more well known posters here, although I was pretty active during the campaign season and like to think that I made some friends here. I have enjoyed sharing my views with all of you, arguing, sharing humor, snark, and a more serious tone when it is warranted. Some of you may know that I have worked for the last four years as a campaign manager, and in other positions, on various races in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia. I started while I was in college volunteering for local races and planning events for candidates when I could. Being involved in both winning and losing campaings over the last four years has led me to making many friends, some great contacts and has given me some amazing experiences. All things considered I wouldn't trade it for the world. That being said, I don't really see any choice but to say that I am done.
This is not the first time someone has broached this type of conversation here at MYDD and sadly it probably will not be the last. The Democratic Party has been notoriously bad at keeping young volunteers and operatives involved over the years. When I started down this path I knew that it would not lead me to riches, I only hoped to do my part for a cause I believed in and pay my bills along the way. I thought I would eventually go back to school for a graduate level degree, which I still may do, but I really fell in love with the campaign environment and wanted it to last for as long as it could.
What I have found over the last few years is that, although the pay was not good, there was always a candidate who needed help. I worked on building my resume and my reputation and networking. I slowly started getting better jobs, culminating this last campaign season with a state lead position for a prominent Democratic organization. The pay was good, I liked the people I was working with, and I had a great deal of responsibility. I also, for the first time, supposedly had stability. I was told, when hired, that if Obama won the Presidency I would be employed at least through August 2009.
We all busted our collective asses through the campaign, and on Election Night I stood with literally hundreds of volunteers and staffers in a Union Hall watching the results come in. We laughed, we cried, we hugged people we didn't know. We had done it. For me it was a journey that started on Election Night 2004, the first time I looked at MYDD and the point at which I made the decision that I had to be part of turning things around. The journey was worth it and it felt great...for approximately 12 hours.
A little after noon on November 5th my boss called me. I was cleaning up my office and getting ready to drive to D.C. for debriefing and to find out about my next assignment. He told me that I didn't need to come. He told me that he had argued for my job. He told me that I could use him for a reference. Then he told me that they had decided two weeks ago to cut most of the staff that had been hired for that specific project. This was not a fly by night organization, nor was it an organization without money. It is an organization with A LOT of money. They simply flat out lied to me.
I always knew when I went to work for a candidate that it was temporary. I often took tough jobs with long shot campaigns. We won a couple, we lost a couple. I always knew I would be moving on to the next gig though. This was different, and I just can't do it anymore. I have been struggling since Election Day to find the next gig. Its funny, I never had trouble finding another candidate, another job, after losing a tough race. We finally won the big one and I am one of many who are now stuck on the outside. It isn't right, but it is the way it is.
I am not writing this to get people down on our party or our organizations. I am simply sharing why I feel the way I feel in hopes that it will be changed for others eventually. There are three things that need to be done IMO:
1.) Young Operatives need to have access to Health Insurance. This is very important. I have been without Health Insurance, barring 6 months of last year, for the better part of a decade. Some have gone longer. If we believe in Health Insurance for all we have to find a way to start with our own.
2.) We need to be honest with the people we employ. If this organization had told me I would be gone the minute the election was over I still would have taken the job. It was a great job and it was an even better cause. It wasn't losing the job that hurt. It was the suddenness and the lies. Its like they wanted it to hurt.
3.) We need to reward people for good work. There are a lot of good operatives that are out of work right now and it just doesn't make sense. We won and the people who made that happen deserve to be part of what comes next. People need to be given opportunities to grow and chances to take on bigger jobs. This just doesn't seem to happen though, unless you are somebodies nephew or very lucky. We are not supposed to the party that operates that way.
Anyway, that is why I am stepping away. Flame, comment, question. Tell me what you feel. I will still be around, though not as much as I used to be. Thank you all, and good luck!