Today is Election Day. By now you’re probably oversaturated with political ads on TV, pamphlets on your door, phone calls asking you to vote, and of course…your friends blasting your Facebook timelines with your urge to “unfollow posts.”
There is so much more to Election Day than showing up to your polling location at 6AM to vote. This day has been counted down since early summer. Campaigners have put in miles and miles in their running shoes knocking on doors, attending political rallies, and “getting out the vote.” As it gets closer to the election, they are working six to seven days a week around the clock crunching numbers, analyzing voter statistics, and making sure every corner of their district has been exposed to the campaign. Even though I have not been involved in politics upon accepting my federal government job (cue Hatch Act), I have a soft spot for all those politicos and seasoned campaigners.
When I was 17 I signed up to volunteer for a political campaign. I had no interest in politics and I just wanted to knock out my 200 hour volunteer requirement for high school graduation. I barely wanted to dip my foot into politics but got immersed. I enjoyed the organized chaos, meeting people who share similar beliefs, and feeling like I was making an impact in my community. As an outspoken person I quickly learned that political campaigns were for me.
These are some of the takeaways from my campaign days:
-Being Able to Stand Up for my Beliefs: Every day I was challenged. You would be surprised at how rude someone can be to someone they don’t even know because they wore the “wrong” politician’s sticker or shirt. People asked me “Why would you work for someone like that?” and say things like “You’re too young and smart to be a Republican.” I had to learn how to not let anyone’s opinions affect me, how to effectively state my beliefs, and how to stand up for myself. Working on campaigns gave me the confidence I needed to survive four years of debates and writing argumentative papers in my government classes. I also learned how to listen to other people without getting heated up. You’re not going to agree with everyone’s political beliefs. Nobody sees the world the same way you do.
-Losing with Pride: Out of all the jobs I had in college, nothing was harder than working on a political campaign. It’s even harder to know that you can put in countless hours into a candidate for them to lose by ten…sometimes one point. I learned to never give up even when there was no hope of winning and I had to lose with pride. During primaries, I would be campaigning against my friend’s candidates but once our Party chose the winner we had to bond together for one cause. I had a lot of friends working for the opposite party and I treated them with respect and did not undermine their candidate. Remember to always be a humble winner or lose with pride. You will not win everything in life but you have to learn how to bounce back and not let a loss affect you.
-Passion for Public Service: When I was applying for college I wasn’t sure what I wanted to pick as my major. I was planning on majoring in psychology or journalism until I worked on my first political campaign. Before the campaign, my only exposure to politics was going to the voting booths with my parents every year and taking a high school government class that did not peak my interest. Ironically, I majored in government and international politics. I really loved being around other like-minded people regardless of their political affiliation because they cared about the community, social and economic issues, and were advocates of their word. Public service has been ingrained in me since the first day of volunteering for a political campaign. One day I hope to run for office and give back to my community that gave so much to me.
Next time a political campaigner calls you, knocks on your door, or asks you to put out yard sign outside your house think about how much time that person is putting into a cause. Politics is just more than talking heads on Fox News and CNN. Being involved in politics means that you believe you can enact change through your words and actions. Anyone can be involved and everyone can make a difference. Now go out and vote!