A message from Former CA State Volunteer Director, Laura Velkei
One year ago today, we celebrated together all over California, the Country and the World, the election of a man many of us believed to be the Change this country so desperately needed.
Feeling contemplative last night, I got comfy, poured a glass of wine, and sat back and watched “By the People” on HBO. I saw a few friends, Ben, Sarah, Greg, and Gannet. But somehow it was missing something.
My laptop was open and the screensaver popped on as I watched the film. My eye caught photos of the last 2 days of the campaign as they slowly began to fade in and out. I found myself grabbing the remote and pausing the tivo to look at the photos of our campaign here in California. The photos opened a flood of memories of the people who touched my life throughout the campaign.
Every morning during the Primary we woke up to our Morning Joe email. Joe would get up at 4:30 am and farm all the breaking news of the day while we slept. Joe’s emails became the main source of news
for the staff and became so popular that they eventually made it to the hallowed offices of the big boss in Chicago.
The daily and endlessly good natured Mitchell made himself available to anyone who needed to talk and who made everyone feel special whether he knew them or not.
Being able to pick up the phone and transfer an otherwise seemingly irate voter to our deeply admired political guru Vincent and have him turn them to Obama thru sheer logic and common sense.
Jackie who handled anything from crazy telephone threats to scheduling problems while keeping the staff fed and cared for.
Mary Jane, quietly contemplating the board and how we were going to make a million calls.
I was incredibly moved as I looked at all the wonderful photos of people who had become friends, remembering their stories, their struggles and their joys. I remembered the first day I met Obama the Candidate and the day I met Obama the President.
Many things changed that November 4th… and many things didn’t.
In recent months those feelings of “He’s the One”, “Hope” and “Change” have been deeply questioned by the same people who worked so hard to elect him. The old feelings of giving up and throwing in the towel have risen for many. Even I became deeply frustrated by the lack of substantive change in his first year. But as I reflect on the campaign I am joyfully reminded that this campaign was never really about Obama. It was about every person that made the choice to make a difference in the world.
It was our voices, our spirit, and our action that won the election. We didn’t take no for answer, we went “rogue”, and we said NO when he was wrong.
It is that same willingness and determination that will help Obama change the country. Being an American is hard work and there are no easy roads. We can get mad and disagree, but we must do so in action and not in the comfort of our TV and our couch. Yelling at our TV although fun, has never achieved real change. The side line yelling is how we got Bush.
So what do we do?
We renew our commitment to ourselves, our country and our President.
Now that doesn’t mean that we lay down and take what we know to be inherently wrong no matter WHO says it. What it means is that we make a commitment to ourselves to volunteer on behalf of our country for a number of hours a month. Whether it’s for Health Care, Marriage Equality, Equal Rights or Climate Change, just make a commitment and stick to it.
You are the Change. It’s not a cliché, it’s the first law of activism. The Change was never about Obama, it was always about YOU.
educate. unify. activate.
Former CA State Volunteer Director