Thursday, January 22, 2009

Campaign sacrifices

Taken way out of context, Nate Silver today offers a glimpse into the hard work and dedication that campaign staffers put into their job:
Young people generally perform paid campaign work, because the hours are absurd and the pay is marginal. For the vast majority, no job sits waiting at the end of the rainbow. Only the few make it through multiple “cycles,” the term for a campaign period. It is grueling on the body. Other areas of life are suspended or simply dropped. A campaign becomes all-encompassing. From the day you start until at least Election Day, it’s an all-day, every-day job. The sacrifices are sometimes hidden and private, little things you did that only you or maybe one or two who were right there will ever know or appreciate. And it all happens with the possibility that you won’t ultimately win.

What sustains most who elect this work is two things – the intense bonds of friendship one develops, and the connection to a larger sense of meaning. ...
Spot on.

Even if you are on different sides of the political divide, please always remember the sacrifices and the nobility of these rockstars.


Katie said...

Young people generally perform paid campaign work, because the hours are absurd and the pay is marginal.

Well... yes. Also, we are masochists. And it's much more fun than being in school. Who wants to write term papers when you can be making five hundred phone calls a day and begging volunteers to canvass in the rain?

Matt F. said...

I thought it might be cool to work on a campaign. Then I started talking to Drew a lot about it and I housed an Obama staffer. I like my wife, my dog, my recliner, and my TV way too much. I think I will continue to give Drew and the rest of you who do this crazy stuff props and just volunteer every once in a while. Great job to all of you.

Jesse said...

Young people generally perform paid campaign work...

Let's rearrange that wording. Paid campaign work is generally performed by young people. For the Obama campaign, I know far more young people who did unpaid campaign work. Still get the intense bonds, still the connection to a sense of meaning, still Katie's point about masochism, and I'll add another point made by Obama and Biden: we "don't know any better." And many of us are proud of that.

Darren Staley said...

Great post, Drew. I also have to take issue with the paid worker aspect. The vast majority of campaign workers, young or old, are not paid. Those who are generally are not paid a living wage.

I don't think Drew will mind me talking out of school here, but I worked on a campaign with him where he was literally making less than a dollar per hour. Plus he had to deal with my incessent late night emails, IMs, and phone calls.

As for Matt, it is a really cool thing. I would relate it how my cousin, a law enforcement officer, describes police shift: 7 hours and 58 minutes of boredom followed by two minutes of sheer terror.

Take that scenario, reverse the numbers, and you are a campaign worker. And if anyone tells you that the high points make the low points easier, they are lying.

Funny thing is,even knowing all that,if you had it to do over again, you would.

Drew said...

I absolutely realize the dedication and commitment that (unpaid) volunteers and super-volunteers put into campaigns, and they to receive the rewards of friendship and a sense of belonging to higher cause. I want nothing to take away from that. Period.

But at the end of the day, a staffer is held accountable and is locked into the needs of the campaign. They can't, say, take the night off and go to a movie if their is a high priority event occurring. Ultimately, the volunteer - who many times will sacrifice for the campaign - can go to that movie if he/she wants too. The staffer can't.

I think that is the distinction Nate Silver is trying to make.

Darren Staley said...


I couldn't agree more. The difference is vast. I suppose I just didn't see Silver make the differentiation. He seemed to only discuss paid staffers.