Monday, November 15, 2004

What Happened?

I'm sure a lot of you are wondering what happened - to my blog and to the campaign. I don't have a lot of answers about the campaign, but my blog just got the time squeezed away from it; I'm sorry about that.

Not long after my last post, they rearranged things at the Seemann campaign, demoting me from Field Director to Receptionist, basically, and putting someone I disliked and distrusted in as Field Director; I left the next day and went over to the Kerry campaign. No hard feelings, really - just I felt it was a very bad decision and that I wasn't able to be a productive part of the congressional campaign any more. Later the campaign pretty much self-destructed, a combination of personality conflicts, lack of funds, and stress - I am glad to have gotten away from it (relatively) early. But I'm sorry I wasn't able to help more, sorry Jeff didn't win (he got about 1/3 of the votes - not shabby but nowhere near enough).

At the Kerry campaign, I found myself working long hours - 70 and 80 hour weeks - and with very little free time for blogging and email, also very little access to computers beyond what was needed for work.

It was an interesting experience, and I'm very glad to have been a part of it, glad to have done everything I could to get Kerry elected. I fully expected us to win and win big, and I don't know why we didn't. We did win Stark County, but it's no consolation - the point was to win the White House, and as the whole world knows, we failed at that - AND lost ground in the House and Senate.

I based my optimism on a number of things, and I don't understand where it was wrong. First, the big picture of the American electorate has been that the Republicans have been winning because of their hard core voters - they have a minority, but a driven minority that goes to the polls, while Democrats have a less committed but larger base - Democrats get out and vote if it's a sunny day, or if their candidate is charismatic, but it's much softer support. Democrats have also been more factional - a candidate who is popular with Labor may not be popular with blacks; one who's strong with women may not get the support of gays or environmentalists, etc. That simply hasn't been the case with Republicans, whose dedicated core is very obedient to party leadership.

But this time - based on my own feelings, based on what I read, based on what I saw around me - Democrats should have been every bit as energized, every bit as united, as the Republicans have ever been. Our outrage at the Bush administration gave us all an understanding of how important it was to get registered and get to the polls and to put any petty differences behind us. And when Democrats get out and vote, it should come down to a simple matter of numbers - there's more of us than there are of them, so we should win, and win big. The unity and the energy were there - I felt it, I saw it around me. Everyone I talked to was doing more than they ever had. Some people were voting for the first time in their lives; others giving money, others giving time. Nobody cared much that Kerry was the candidate - whoever the Democrat was, they were voting for him and telling all their friends to vote for him. People were voting the "straight party ticket" (all Democrats). People were putting up signs - and putting up new signs when Republican hoodlums stole the first ones. Writing letters to newspapers; bringing friends to help volunteer. We had the party, the campaign, the unions, and the "527s" (like MoveOn and ACT) all filled with volunteers, filled with energy, lined up and doing the work that wins votes. We had Republicans working for Kerry. Veterans, cops, Catholics. People who had never voted for a Democrat in their lives.

So what happened? I don't know. Things looked great on Election day itself - turnout was phenomenal (previously, always good for Democrats); exit polls showed us winning EVERY swing state, by three points or more. "Bellwether" counties (like Stark) and precincts were going our way. It looked like my prediction of a nationwide landslide victory for Kerry was a good one. Then came the results, and here we are, with four more years of Bush. I can't explain it, can't really accept it, but there it is.