This is What Democracy Looks Like

This is going to be a series where we introduce the people who make up the campaign. Every staffer will explain a little about who they are, and why their involved in the campaign. It is cross posted at our campaign blog, and throughout the blogosphere

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Max Berger, and I'm currently working as Web Coordinator for Robert Rodriguez for Congress. I'm a 20 year-old college student dedicating my summer to helping a fantastic candidate (and a good friend) get elected to Congress. I'm what you could consider a "netroots Democrat." I've been a daily blog reader since 2002, took time off school to work full-time for the Dean for America campaign in Burlington, and spent a summer at Media Matters. I want to share the story of how I came to be involved on this campaign, and why it matters so much to me.

I agreed to join the campaign because Robert was a colleague of mine on a previous campaign, and I was taken in by his thoughts on the need for real leadership in American politics. As young people (I'm 20, he is 28), we were frustrated the current political class almost pathologically inability to take the long view. Whether it's the Democrats weakly voting for the war in Iraq for political reasons, or the Republicans greedily denying global warming because it didn't fit their worldview, too few in DC today look past the current moment.

We see so little leadership on important issues facing America because that would require our leaders make personal sacrifices. Sacrifice is the antithetical to the current regime. As a young person, the inability of the "leadership" to use their position to invest in the future is a personal affront. Tax cuts in a time of war? Letting America fall behind Korea in broadband access? Continuing to under-fund No Child Left Behind? There was a time in American politics when people appreciated the sacrifices of previous generations and were willing to make similar sacrifices for future generations. Grand investments in the future of the nation from the GI Bill, to the Apollo program, to the interstate highway system form the basis of our present prosperity. And yet, no one in politics today even dreams of such things, because of the sacrifices of money and standing it might require. I wanted to work for a campaign that would provide leadership.

My involvement with the campaign started in early June when I drove down to Palmdale from Portland, Oregon. I got in at 8 pm after a full two days of driving and was excited to check out to my new digs and meet my new colleagues. I arrived to find a combination house/office that I have come to call "the compound." We work upstairs and live downstairs. My colleagues were running around getting everything together for a big rally and press event the next day, making final touches, and rallying supporters to show up. I was thrown straight into the fray, making calls without even a moment to unload my car, or take a shower. I worked straight through until 2 am.

When I was done, I wondered to myself, "what the heck am I doing here?" I gave up my summer of chilling out with my friends and working a mindless job to slave away doing busy work in the middle of the desert? I had almost forgotten why I was involved before I even got started. Before I headed to bed I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. What I found changed my entire outlook on the campaign, and reminded me of why I was here. Robert, who had just finished a 15-hour workday, was mopping the kitchen floor. It hadn't even occurred to him to ask someone else to do it. There was nothing he could have done that would have been more inspiring.

Tags: 2006, campaigns, Congress, House, Personal, Robert Rodriguez (all tags)


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