Last weekend I spent countless hours canvassing and phone banking only to feel defeated at the end of Election Day. I knew this was how it worked; there are no guarantees, especially with a freshman member, but there was a large part of me that believed if I worked hard enough, the member would win. To my dismay, the member I campaigned for, every other member I campaigned for during this election season, and my own boss were defeated by their opponents. Ultimately, I felt defeated, it seemed as though all the countless hours I spent campaigning were worthless.
The hardest realization on election night was not necessarily that my boss and several other members within “my party” were not re-elected, but that the friends I had made, those who are staffers for the members, lost their jobs in one night. Their loss was not due to a mistake they had made; their jobs were instead in the hands of the district or state’s population. I came to realize that campaigning for an incumbent is not just about helping your party or your boss win, the outcomes affect more than just the losing incumbent. Campaigning is also about keeping your job, having the ability to put a roof over your family’s head and putting dinner on the table.
My first day back at work was very depressing, as expected; I immediately began to question my desire to work on The Hill. I was informed that constituents were calling the office to rub salt in our already stinging wounds, overwhelmed with joy that the incumbent was defeated and we were all out of jobs.
So what is the point? Why should I bother campaigning if the person I am working for is just going to lose? Should I work on The Hill knowing that I could lose my job in the blink of an eye? As my time in the fellowship comes to an end, these are the questions that could very well determine my future.
– Kymberly Doenges, Star Fellow Fall 2012