When I heard that the election in Virginia was close, I knew that I wanted to canvass. As an intern, and a newcomer to the political scene, I believe that campaigning is an invaluable way to learn about the election process. As a result, when I received an email from the Democratic National Committee asking for volunteers for the presidential campaign, I jumped at the opportunity. I arrived at the DNC early on Monday morning, just a day before the election. Everybody was decked out in blue and chatting with an excited energy. The positivity in the room was palpable and I couldn’t wait to start knocking on doors.
I decided to volunteer that morning with two of my female intern friends. At the DNC office, they separated the drivers from the non-drivers and asked people to join different cars. When a woman stood up and said that she had three spaces in her car, we immediately walked over and asked to join her canvassing team. We introduced ourselves to the woman, Linda, and struck up an easy conversation with her. Linda is a recent retiree, and has committed the past few weeks of her life to campaigning for President Obama. Within an hour of meeting, we drove to Woodbridge, VA, collected our canvassing maps, and started out on our assignment. Linda and I were paired up and reached out to the community with some degree of success. We spent several hours knocking on doors throughout a cluster of neighborhoods. However, our shift was from the morning to mid afternoon, and many people were not home. Despite this, the individuals we were able to speak with were extremely receptive to us. Linda and I had a great time.
By the time we left, we were invigorated by the experience. We met up with my friends and started on the drive back to D.C. In the car, Linda asked us each of us to tell her why we were campaigning for Obama. Each of us spoke about social issues. One of my friends has a gay aunt, and believes in marriage equality. I feel as if the president will support an agenda that protects women’s rights. When we finished, Linda said that she first became interested in politics when she was our age. She also told us that at that time, we wouldn’t have been sitting in her car. Linda is African American. She told us that she couldn’t believe everything that had happened within her lifetime. She remembered the racial discrimination of her past, and was now driving with three young interns campaigning for an African American president. Linda told us that she was amazed at what her generation accomplished, and couldn’t wait to see what was in store for ours. She told us to continue the fight for equality for every American, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. This time with Linda was the highlight of my day. While the campaign experience was extremely rewarding, the people I met through the campaign taught me just as much. I can’t wait to see what the next four years bring, and what this generation will accomplish in my lifetime.
– Allison Laubach, Star Fellow Fall 2012