Getting Involved

Once compelled to join Hillary’s campaign, I was unsure exactly how one does that. Fortunately, I have a friend who worked on the Obama 2008 campaign – and subsequently worked in Obama’s first term’s administration – who offered me advice. He assured me that there were many individuals at my point in life who filled important campaign positions in 2008 (that was reassuring to me, because I did not know if these campaigns were just filled by campaign professionals and young idealistic college graduates). So, first thing, he suggested, was to dust off my resume with a cover letter describing my intent, time to be committed to the campaign, past experiences, and possible roles I may be best suited.

He graciously reviewed my resume and asked whether I would seek a position in any subsequent administration, which I would not. He suggested that be clarified in my cover letter, because most people seeking paid positions in a campaign are expecting job offers if their candidate wins (ah, the spoils system). He thought that would make me a more attractive applicant. Next, he asked if I wished to be paid, which I would (I could not afford not to!), though I was willing to initially volunteer to gain experience and best determine where I may best benefit the campaign. This makes sense for the campaign to prove my worth as a volunteer first before being hired full-time (equivalent to serving a probationary period). Based on my experiences, he then suggested I may want to work as an area Field Organizer or on the Advance Team (this team prepares venues prior to candidates’ speaking events).

With this information in mind, the next step is similar to any other job search: looking at websites or making contact with someone in the campaign. The best website was Jobs and Internships ǀ Hillary for America. I applied for a Field Organizer position, but so far I have received no response. I contacted the State Democratic Party who does not get involved with any candidate until the primaries are over, but they were able to provide names of those close to the campaign. Surprisingly, none of these contacts returned phone calls. However, one person who knew me – through my Board work on a local nonprofit – knew the right contacts (the “someone who knows someone who knows someone”). That person was the key. After I sent them a message titled, “Farmer to Join Campaign,” I was in direct contact with the Southern regional organizing director. The response was, “You don’t see that title every day.” And, with that, I was as a volunteer.

My first meeting was the last Democratic Primary Debate watching party on December 19. We met at the Riverfront Tavern – all four of us. The site was smoky with multiple televisions broadcasting every sporting event imaginable with our group holed up in a corner watching the debate (talk about back room politics).   Not exactly the venue or food I prefer, but I was pleased to be there after two months of researching and following this trail. I enjoyed the people, the debate offered no new material (like most of them), and the beer was cold. It was good just to get started.

On March 1, Tennessee will hold its Presidential Primary as part of Super Tuesday when 12 states hold either primaries or caucuses. At present, I will probably be volunteering/working in state until then.  I have been in contact with the State Organizer Director (she was at the debate-watching party) who assured me that a list of activities are forthcoming when we start on January 4. After the Tennessee Primary is over, I doubt any significant number of staffers will stay in Tennessee, but more likely be sent to neighboring swing states. But, hey, this is my first time, and I don’t know where this adventure will take me. Next blog will describe my first week on the campaign. Stay tuned…