Bill Clinton, Presidential Holiday Cheer,and the Future…

Hello out there, my dear readers! Yes, I am still alive, lol, and still having the time of my life in our nation’s capitol! So much has happened since my last post which I believe, off hand, was in October  sometime? Wow…! *blushes* It’s not that I lost the inspiration to blog between then and now. Quite the contrary! It’s just that Facebook and Twitter often served as quicker, more conveinient mediums  particurally when I was “on the go”, which was/is often the case when it comes to my life as an intern/office manager/field organizer/student (continuing my studies online this semester, though next semester remains to be seen..more on that later in this post). But dcfall11 was always on my mind and radar and I have been meaning to blog the whole time. I actually owe you all several more posts, but I hope this one will make up for my slacking! 🙂

Yesterday evening, a dream of mine five years in the making (well, if you can count the ’08 primaries, when I was rather pissed off at/dissapointed in him but that’s water under the bridge now, lol–though he has been a presence since I was in Kindergarten and I’ve always admired him) came true–I met the 42nd President of the United States and someone who is on my Top 10 list of favorite Dems/political inspirations and most definitely one of my favorite Presidents, Bill Clinton!  I say the meeting had been five years in the making because he came to Reid Park in Tucson back in 2006, during that epic midterm election season, to stump for the terrific and also one of my  inspirations, Gabrielle Giffords. I was all set to go..until I found out it was on the same day as my vital midterm exam for my Psychology class (I was in my second year of college at the time), plus I wound up getting sick that day anyway. Who knew that roughly five years later, on a seemingly random morning, checking my email in the office, I’d find out that not only was the Former President doing a signing of his new book, “Back to Work” at the Politics and Prose book store in Northwestern DC but that there were–surprise!–tickets left to purchase a whole day after they went on sale..and that the tickets were merely the price of the book, $23! $23 to receive the brand new book, get it signed AND get to meet the Former President of the United States! It was an unbelievable, irresistable deal, even if we (my coworker Geoffrey and I..though he didn’t end up going, but instead sold the ticket to my other OFA DC colleague, Tiffany, who ended up going, along with our colleague   James) had to travel 45 minutes round trip on the metro and walk another 15 minutues to the store itself, to purchase them in person, lol. It was completely worth it, though!

Just the fact that attending this signing turned into a mini OFA DC event of sorts (since three of us attended together :)) shows you, I Think, how quickly things can change in the world of politics if you remember back to the 08 cycle!  James thoughtfully saved a place for myself and Tiffany in line (the metro itself wasn’t too slow in that direction–for once! lol–though the traffic was BRUTAL, even just walking there…unbelievably slow red lights and some drivers who definitely don’t deserve their license but that’s a whole other post..;))  The line itself wasn’t too long by the time we all got into it.:

 My OFA DC colleague James (at the very back :)) in line outside Politics and Prose 

 My OFA DC Colleague Tiffany in line–all smiles, despite the bitter cold! 🙂 

 Yours truly in line–had to wear my ‘signature accessory’! 😉  

 

The line was stagnant until the Former President arrived (he had apparently been stuck in traffic), but then flowed forward rather quickly. We were ushered in, single file, towards the back of the store..and handed candy along the way! 🙂 We had no sooner gotten our candy and started eating it (I personally had a bag of Peanut M&Ms, among my favorites) when we reached the area where the Former President was..only I didn’t realize this until after I had turned my red University of Arizona (my alma matter) hoodie to one of the security staff. James’ meeting had begun when I was asked for my hoodie apparently so by the time I turned around, almsot literally..it was my turn!

I stood, a little frozen there for a minute. One of the Politics and Prose staff had to remind me it was my turn..LOL! I walked forward, put on my best smile and walked up to the 42nd President of the United States, the man I’d first seen on TV when I was 6 years old. He greeted me with that infectious smile, those twinkling blue eyes. He doesn’t look too much different in person, though he wasn’t quite as tall as I’d expected (though I am used to John Kerry!  Who, btw, nothing else can compare to meeting…but that’s a whole other post! :)) . His handshake was warm, sincere..that famous “Clinton Handshake”.      He said something like (keep in mind that I was, admittedly, starstruck, plus, even though I’d expected to meet him, I didn’t expect it to be so sudden!) “Hello, thank you for being here”. And I said something like “Hello, Mr. President..it’s such an honor to meet you.”

He smiled and said something like, “Well, it’s an honor to meet YOU, Young Lady!” (Oh, that charisma! )

He signed my book while I blathered on about how I admire him and what an inspiration he is, then he said

“Bless  you!” I had been “Bless”ed by Bill Clinton..LOL! I walked away, smiling ear to ear with my newly signed book (which I am looking forward to reading!), not believing what had just happened. I still  can’t. Hell, I still can’t believe I’m here in DC, this whole experience…this year itself. I don’t know what I did to deserve these many amazing opportunities and experiences, but I am beyond grateful!

 My autographed book, by and from Bill Clinton  

 Unfortunately, the following pictures are the only ones I have as we were not allowed to bring cameras/camera phones inside, though there were photographers there. Tiffany and I are on a mission to find those pics and when/if we do, I will post them here!

And then this evening, my fellow DNC interns and I were treated to a holiday themed tour of the East Wing of the White House! The tour had been planned since the beginning of the fall program, but became ‘holiday’ by default of the tour taking place within the Holiday season. While I was there in October and while the tour itself–sans the holiday aspect, which was really awesome–was a pretty standard public tour, it was still amazing and still such a privelidge! The White House is absolutely gorgeous and at Holiday time especially, as you can see here..:

 Lincoln Portrait surrounded by gorgeous holiday trees!

 Stuffed Bo–with glasses..squee!

More pics here (technology not cooperating with me at the moment..grr!):

 http://twitter.com/#!/latte_lib_86/media/grid

I absolutely cannot wait to return a week from Wednesday for the ‘big enchilada’–the White House Holiday Party!  I have known I was going since September, but it hasn’t hit me I don’t think until just now..still hasn’t really hit me, I don’t think. MUCH more on that in a post to come afterwards! 😉

 I feel so spoiled-I certainly must sound it!  But I honestly do appreciate every aspect and every minute of this amazing experience and am doing my best to live up to and deserve it! I love it so much that I have decided to stay on with the DNC and OFA through this upcoming semester–and just got to official okay and go ahead yesterday! I will be going back to AZ for the holidays on the 18th, but will be returning for the start of the Spring program on/around January 17th (I also may be transferring into an in person program for school for this coming semester, though that’s still a work in progress at this point..). I just couldn’t leave just yet, not with 2012 literally beginning in just a matter of weeks(!), not with so much more left to be done! We will see where these next months, this year (and beyond..) will take me/us, but I fully intend to blog about it all (or as much as I can!)…will probably have to change dcfall11 to dcfall12 though..! 😉

Much more soon-promise!

Tara

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A Sunday in Maryland..

So yesterday, I took a little break from the hustle and  bustle of the city (awesome as it is) and joined my friend and fellow Kerrycrat, Mary Beth, on a day trip to Assenteague Island National Seashore (with the famous wild horses that inspired the Misty book series), near the very charming little town of Berlin, Maryland. It was quite the drive–a little over three hours in each direction–but I personally love a good road trip and the drive was fantastically beautiful! Plus it was so great, hanging out with Mary Beth, who I first met during my time in the Boston area last year but who is also now in DC (she came out to the Boston area from Arizona too–what are the odds?? :)).

Because I am something of an amateur photographer (or at least a big enthusiast),  the camera on my beloved Blackberry was in full swing the entire day. The photos tell the story best, I think. Maryland is gorgeous! It reminds me a lot scenically of Massachusetts, but has its own unique beauty, in its own  right:

Annapolis, Maryland, just outside  the famous Naval Academy

  Neat little Irish Kilt shop in the Annapolis town square (where we stopped for breakfast on the way). If I ever marry, that will be my dress! 😉 🙂

  They have a Jimmy John’s in Maryland! Thought it was a U of A thing (it was a popular hang out on campus at my alma matter :))).

Boats in the harbor!

Statue dedicated to the author of Roots in the Annapolis town square

Motorcyclist (Hey Kasey! This make you think of anything? hehe 😉 :)) on highway bridge

Beach house chairs and porch outside Visitors Center at Assenteague

Exhibit at Assenteague-very fitting quote, I think

Wild horses right outside the car!

Horses on beach at Assenteague

  It was so great to put my feet into the ocean again, get sand between my toes..ocean=bliss! 🙂

Bay bridge at Assenteague park

Boat in bay

Calming water scene

More horses!:

Globe Theater Cafe and Restaurant in Berlin, where we stopped for dinner on the way back. Loved the theme and atmosphere!

Beautiful sun set on the drive back, reminded me of home..

I had a truly fantastic time. Thanks again, Mary Beth!

More soon!

Tara

One of the perks..

..of being a DNC intern is the awesome tours they put together for us of some of the signature places in DC. This morning, we went on a tour of the US Capitol. I’d been before, in March of this year (through Senator Kerry’s office 😀 More about that in the post I plan to make about my inaugural DC visit soon!), but it was great to get to see it all again with my colleagues! The history in those rooms is absolutely overwhelming. :

 

The front of the Capitol Visitor’s Center

 

Our group in the Capitol Rotunda

 

The Rotunda, skyview

 

Pocahontas portrait

 

  Marking where John Quincy Adams’ desk was located

 

Lincoln sculpture in the Crypt

 

The Capitol tour was fantastic (though the Kerry Senate Office version in March is still my favorite, for obvious reasons :)), but the absolute highlight of the day was the part we, unfortunately, were not allowed to photograph–our tour of the House floor and..wait for it..  the Democratic House Cloakroom! This epic win was scored for us by a very thoughtful fall intern who had been a House page a few years back and arranged the tour for our group through a connection he’d made through his participation in that program. I had been in the Hous Gallery during my visit in March, but this was my first time on the floor, sitting in the seats that Congresspeople and, during the State of the Union addresses from the President, Senators sit-on the Democratic side, of course. 😀 I must say that the chamber looks MUCH smaller in person than it does on TV. We got to sit in the chairs (and see the blue, red, and green vote buttons-I admit I touched the blue, ‘yea’ one, but not enough to make a vote of course! haha), walk about the floor, even walk up to the point and railing the President comes down when he enters the chamber for the State of the Union address each year. Surreal!

 

The cloakroom was particularly surreal, especially when our guide told us of the atmosphere in there when the Health Care Reform debate and vote was taking place. Of  Nancy Pelosi and Stenny Hoyer staying late the night the bill passed, watching the coverage on MSNBC on the TV in there and on an even more personally striking note, of how a Democratic congresswoman was spotted sitting in one of the phone booths, reduced to tears after having told by staffers of the death threats against her and her family in her District, as a result of her support for health care reform.  That to me was a very real, moving moment, one that really brought home the personal side and affect of this process. I’ll never forget that.

 

What an unforgettable week! I feel continually inspired in and by this whole experience. And so, so grateful!

 

More to come soon!

 

Tara

An afternoon at Barack’s house..;)

So as I mentioned in my earlier post, I spent the afternoon at the White House today, for the occasion of the Citizen’s Medal Event, an event which basically honors ‘ordinary’ Americans who have done extraordinary things. I was both honored and humbled to have been selected to attend by my awesome supervisor at my internship at the DNC (working in Obama for America-the DC arm of the President’s re-election campaign).

As I’ve mentioned before, while I have been to the outside of the White House–during my first visit to DC in March of this year–today was my first time actually visiting the inside. Folks, I am still, hours later, pinching myself! The whole afternoon, the whole experience was, in a word–unbelievable. 

From the moment I arrived at the Southeast gate entrance earlier this afternoon, I could not believe my luck. Though I have indeed been working hard on the behalf of the President (though as I’ve said on here before, it doesn’t really feel like work to me, but rather as a great honor and privilege) , I still can’t believe I was chosen for an opportunity like this. I hail from a town of less than 4,000 people. Before I came to DC to visit in March, my only view of what is arguably the closest thing to a palace in this country was on C-Span and in history books. While visiting the White House has long been a dream of mine, I never imagined I’d actually get to-or at least not for an event like this!

  From the moment we arrived, we were given the red carpet treatment. Champagne, fresh roses on the ornately decorated tables…a full violin quartet.

Absolute first-class all the way! I don’t usually drink, but I just had to have a glass of the bubbly stuff. Hey, you only live once–plus it was a celebration, at the White House…why not? 😉 :

The champagne and fine music flowed for nearly an hour as the larger, adjoining room was prepared for the President and the ceremony. I used this time to not only enjoy the reception but to take in the utter, epic awesomeness of my surroundings. Just being in the White House, the building itself, was such a dream come true for me, both as a huge, self-admitted political junkie and as a longtime History buff. Both the excitement of the knowledge that such an historical President and administration is housed within these walls and the remnants of the history left behind there overwhelmed me as I walked around, snapping these photos with my Blackberry (which we were, thankfully, allowed to do!:)).

The Clinton Presidential Portrait

Carter, FDR, and the staircase

The JFK Portrait

The Lincoln bust

Staircase and chandelier

Inscription on the marble floor

Presidential seal just above door to adjacent room

Milling around before ceremony

I was also able to get some neat views of the outside of the White House, from the reception room window!:

Then, it was time to file into the larger, adjacent room for the ceremony itself! The President would be making some remarks before presenting the medals to the thirteen Americans selected (by ordinary citizens, online) for their extraordinary contributions to society. (You can read more about their amazing acts and contributions here:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/citizensmedal)

The medals

The President greets the crowd

There was an audible hush when the President entered the room and we all rose and stood to greet him. I’d known from my prior experiences how much of a presence he is, but realized it even more today, being only three (short) rows across from him.

President Obama gave a moving and  inspiring speech preceding the presentation of the medals, one that I thought tied in really well with his speech at the Martin Luther King Jr dedication on Sunday, about the need to fight for and help people even when “we are doing okay”, about, basically “we” over “me”, “out of many we are one”. The entire ceremony and the people who were selected for the medals, their stories (see the White House link) were so fitting for the President’s agenda and what he stands for.    Plus, on a more personal note, he just has this really calm, down to earth kind of energy. His critics often accuse him of being arrogant–I’ve never gotten that sense from him and after being up close to him today, I get it even less. I know I am biased for obvious reasons, but I guess I just don’t understand what truly seems to be a personal  hatred of this man from and by many of his detractors. He’s just so genuine and whether you agree with his politics and policies or not, I think it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t at least mean well.

But back to the account at hand..

The President with the medal recipients:

I didn’t get to speak to him as he had to leave very quickly after the ceremony, though he did look at and say “hello” to my row. 😉 There was an adorable moment on his way out, though, when he caught sight of this little girl in this bright red hat. He reached right out to her, took her by the cheek, and said “Well hey, sweetie pie”. She buried her face on his shoulder, getting all shy! 🙂 I unfortunately didn’t get that shot (!) but here is the hat that got her the nod-as a big hat enthusiast myself, I can certainly see why!:

Right before he left, the President told us that he “heard the food” that would follow in the other room “was pretty good”. He was right!:

A delicious array of salmon brisk (I think it was?), lamb kabob (or chicken? it was delicious regardless!), thai noodles, these really good vegetable patty things, and absolutely divine dark chocolate!

On my way out, this really nice lady on the security team, noticing my Bo the First Dog Beanie Baby Keychain on my purse, suggested that I get a shot of this iconic picture and another, lesser known one of the adorable furball :p :

  On my way out, still pinching myself!

Today was seriously one of the best days of my life! I feel so honored just to have set foot in the White House–particularly this President’s White House–much less to have been part of such a special event with the President himself, not to mention having gotten the red carpet treatment from his top notch and very thoughtful staff.  Today will definitely go down as a highlight in my DC experience–and for me, personally, over all–though I continue to be both wowed and humbled just to be here, doing what I’m doing in the first place.

Here’s to four more years of this President within these walls, four more years of his inspirational presence and leadership!

Today is definitely a day I’m convinced I’ll one day be telling my children and grandchildren (if that is to be my destiny..) about.

In a word– awesome!

More to come soon!

Tara

In a few hours..

..I will be at the White House, for the Citizen’s Medal event! I am so nervous and excited at the same time. While I have been to the outside of the White House (when I first visited DC, in March of this year) and have seen the President in person three times now (once when he was running in ’08, in Phoenix during the primaries and twice as President-when he came to Boston last year just before the midterms and again Sunday, albeit mainly on the jumbo-tron, haha) , I have neither been inside or have been in that close of a proximity to him. This is such an absolute honor, one that quite frankly feels extremely surreal, especially to a “small town girl” such as myself! Completely pinching myself right now.

Wish me luck! 🙂 There will be of course be a full report and hopefully pictures (I’ve heard conflicting things on what’s allowed when it comes to that, but if I am allowed, you can bet I will be snapping ’em! 😉 lol) to follow on here soon!

Much more soon!

Tara

Weekend of Action!

So my weekend was basically owned by the President and Democratic politics. But I am not complaining..at all. I had a blast! 🙂

On Saturday morning, I went canvassing (basically going door-to-door to homes on the lists of a campaign, talking to voters, passing out campaign literature, etc) for the first time in a year and a half, since my last work for the party in Tucson, Arizona shortly before I moved from there in April of 2010. Canvassing –either for the first time or in my case, for the first time in a while, is a lot like riding a bike or even learning to walk again. You struggle and stress a bit at first but eventually it becomes–cliche as it may sound– like second nature. Not that walking door to do in a hilly, Suburban  Northern Virginian neighborhood with 80 degree humidity and a campaign lit packet the size of a small child was easy, lol…but it was very rewarding, especially when something like 95% of the people who were home and we actually got to talk to where either ‘Strong Democrats’ or leaning towards supporting the Democratic candidates in the State Senate race that is coming up in like three weeks there (What does this have to do with the President, you might be asking? Well Democrats holding    on to the State Senate will be a very important aspect of the President holding onto Virginia and its electoral votes next year (and VA not becoming a Florida 2000 0r Ohio 2004..-a key part of his strategy).

Then yesterday, we had a big canvassing action for the President’s campaign before the big dedication ceremony of the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial on the National Mall. Candidly speaking, it was a bit hard to get even the folks with Obama shirts, buttons, and similar swag to stop and sign their support for the campaign as most of them were (understandably) preoccupied with moving through the line and getting a decent ‘seat’ (standing position) for the ceremony.  But we ended up getting a very good amount of people to do so and had a lot of fun in the process. And we got to hear Aretha Franklin sing–and the President himself speak–one of his all time best speeches in my opinion and since he is probably the greatest orator of our time, that is saying something!– right afterward. Plus I got a free hat out of it! :):

  The sun was in my eyes, lol

Getting “fired up and ready to go” for the Pre-event Canvass!

 

Aretha Franklin!

 

Crowd chanting “Four more years!” as the President came out to speak!

 

As you can probably tell from the pictures, we didn’t have the greatest ‘seats’ (as we came back in from canvassing just as the event was starting) lol but it was so amazing just to be there!

 

More soon,

Tara

 

So..

..Next Thursday, I will be attending an event at the White House! (Doesn’t even feel real, typing that let alone saying it aloud..!). I feel incredibly spoiled as I am already going to the holiday party, but my supervisor picked me for it and I quite frankly could not resist! 😉 I was originally supposed to go to the welcoming event for the Korean Prime Minister yesterday morning (Fun fact: I actually considered signing up for this program to teach English in South Korea that I found out about through my department when I was attending the University of Arizona –it was to be one of my back up plans if I didn’t get into law school or another graduate program. Life of course didn’t take me in that direction, or at least not so far, but it’s a fun coincidence to share, I think), but due to an organizational mix up, it didn’t happen. Oh well…I can’t complain. At all! 🙂

DC still rocks. Expensive as all hell if I am to be totally honest (they even charge for a freaking bag at the grocery store! Nothing that’s make or break–a mere five cents lol–but still and the weather is classic East Coast-unpredictable, but  I am making it! I have even managed to conquer my fear of escalators (some of you have already heard the story a million times, but to make it short, I saw an episode of that 90’s TV show, “Rescue 911”, when I was like six, about a little kid who physically got stuck to an escalator going up and tore a portion of his skin out…traumatized me nearly 20 years on!). I’ve found that they are just more efficient, especially in the maze that so often is a typical Metro station in DC and similar areas and can even be fun. Sure beats the stress of running late and going from level to level to find an elevator, only to find that it’s not in service!

More to come soon!

Tara

One year ago today..

..I met one of my biggest inspirations, politically speaking and in general: Senator John Kerry.

I know, I know..I am a total nerd for actually keeping track of the exact date and I know those of you reading this who aren’t “Kerrycrats” are probably sick to death of all the JK mentions in this blog, lol, but the good Senator and the inspiration he has provided for me, in terms of politics and just in general,   is a huge, essential part  of why I am here, doing this in the first place.

This actually happened in Boston, which I know deviates from the overall setting and theme of this blog, but again I feel it fits. I lived and went to school last year in the Northern Boston area (Andover/Methuen, where I actually was living, area).

I had already RSVP’d to the event–hosted by the Boston Area Young Democrats. The event was already scheduled to feature the Senator’s lovely daughter, Vanessa (who is a doctor in the Boston area and  has done some pretty amazing things in her own right, including  a lot of work with disadvantaged, uninsured people, etc). I had no idea her father would be there too, until literally the very last minute. I was in the computer lab in the library at school after class, checking my email on a whim before I headed out the door, when I saw a message from the event coordinator on Facebook, saying that the Senator would be there.

I nearly jumped out of my seat.  I had never seen Senator Kerry in person before. I had hoped to see him at some point while in Massachusetts, especially since the 2010 campaign season was in full swing at that point, but the opportunity just had not been there, until this.

Though I was already looking forward to the event, this news propelled my excitement to all new levels.

I quickly whipped out my cellphone and called a cab to the Commuter Rail station in Andover. It was only a 5-10 minute ride but it felt like an eternity, especially considering the fact that if I missed that train, I’d have to wait over an hour for the next.

Now keep in mind that with the name of the venue, Whiskey Park, and with me still being a fairly newly minted tourist type ( I hadn’t even been there 2 months at that point), I took the park part literally and fully envisioned an actual rally in a park, with the potential of either not being able to get in or to be so far away, the Senator would resemble an ant (okay, an exaggeration I know…but still, I was anxious!:)).

Even though I got to the station in plenty of time, I nearly missed that train, as the little general store where they sell the Commuter Rail tickets there only accepted cash to buy them with and in my haste, I nearly forgot my ATM card pin number…but I made it, even if just barely!

When I arrived in Boston and in the general area of the venue nearly an hour later (between the Rail and the T), I searched fruitlessly for awhile more, still thinking I was looking for an actual park, until this British tourist kindly informed me of the fact that Whiskey Park was not an actual park, but a small club/restaurant within the Park Plaza hotel. Pretty much like a cocktail lounge type thing, fancy.

So as you can imagine, I felt very out of place in the attire I had arrived in: My “vintage” grey Kerry for President 2004 shirt that I got off of Ebay, jeans, light pink UGGS, and my navy blue “Cali Love”  hoodie from Old Navy. Thankfully the event itself was quite laid back in terms of how most of the other Young Dems were dressed, though I still felt rather foolish that I had taken the locale description so literally!

It then occurred to me that I would be seeing Senator Kerry,   my political idol, my inspiration, and one of my favorite people in general, not afar from a stage in a park (though that of course would’ve been awesome too), but within mere feet in a very small venue.

Under dressed as I admittedly was , I still could not believe my luck!

Vanessa and Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, Christine, came in first. Vanessa appeared to be on the phone with someone, who just might’ve been her dad as he walked in, just minutes later.

I fully realize that I will sound like a fangirl here, but it was truly surreal when he walked in. Just seeing someone, in the flesh, that you have seen so often, for years, on TV, online, in magazines, etc. Especially someone you look up to and admire and support. (Yes, he is that tall in person! :))

He gave an electrifying pep talk, about the importance of the very much forthcoming midterm elections, how he thought we’d keep the Senate and “pray[ed] we keep the House” (fortunately at least part of his prediction came true!), and how he still felt like “a Young Democrat at heart”.

Then he proceeded to work the room. It was an amazingly casual setting, for an event with a United States Senator especially! There was a crowd around him at first, taking pictures and the like (I love how the press, conservatives, and even some fellow Democrats, unfortunately, often accuse the Senator of being “aloof”, or “wooden”, or boring, yet at every event like this and the ones I attended since, he is approached like a rock star ;)).  Then he reached the area of the room near where I and my fellow (at the time) Boston area Kerrycrat Jennifer and her husband were standing.

The event coordinator was also standing right there. I whispered to him, asking if it was cool to just walk up to the Senator and speak.

He smiled, replying “Of course. I’m pretty sure he won’t bite” (haha :)).

Honestly, I forget exactly what I said as I was so caught in the moment and surprised (as I really didn’t expect to meet him the first time out), but I said something like “Hello, Senator” and introduced myself and he said something like “Hi, Tara, it’s nice to meet you” and shook my hand.  I said something about being new to the area (and being so glad to have him for my senator now and he thanked me.

It was really quick (as he was on his way out, though he was very generous with the time he did have and his focus-he doesn’t just give “stock” answers, but focuses directly on you and what you are saying, etc)  but extremely meaningful to and for me, for all the reasons I described earlier in this post. Though I went on to meet with him on three other occasions  (which I will have to post about another time, as they deserve their own!) following this (I say this not to boast, but I am so thankful and each experience means so much to me, for all the reasons I described earlier) on which the exchange was longer and more detailed, I will always remember October 13th, 2010 and regard it as a date on which not only one of my dreams came true, but as a building block for where I am today and where I hope to continue my journey in the future–inspiration from a man who despite encountering several notable challenges along the way, has never stopped fighting for what he believes in. This inspires me for my own ‘fight’, my own purposes, my own journey.

Thank you, Senator Kerry.

This picture was actually taken in May of this year, at a different event in Boston, but I included it here just because.

More soon!

Tara

“This is why we fight..”

To quote a song by The Decemberists that I love :

This just happens to segue quite nicely into what I was intending to blog about, even before I found this most awesome graphic on Facebook this morning. Not that I needed reminding of why I am here, but this embodies it, a visual representation, if you will.  Helps articulate it, perhaps better than this blog entry. But I felt inspired to write it nonetheless.

It started a couple of days ago, with a conversation I happened to have with one of my roommates. You know, they say that politics is one of the topics you don’t discuss in “mixed company”, when you are unsure of the beliefs and value systems of that company and how they might react to yours.   Well, I am a big believer in free speech so I am not sure if I can or do subscribe to that completely (though there is of course a time and place for everything, as “they” also say..).

Believe it or not, though, I wasn’t the one who started the conversation. 🙂

She did. Or maybe the news report featuring the President did. But she fired the first shot.

I had literally just walked in the door that evening, after spending nearly all day at the office (though again it never really feels like that, or like a mere office, lol, but I digress..). This girl (I think she was just there for a shorter period of time (actually I think she left today)– and wasn’t around that much so I didn’t know her very well, much less enough to predict the turn the conversation would soon take) turns to me and says, “He [The President] is such a liar!”

Now normally–passionate as I  obviously am about my politics and my support of the President himself–I might have let a mere criticism or indication of ideological clashing slide, agreeing simply to disagree. As I touched on in my last entry, I try not to judge people based on their ideology or political stance alone  as I certainly do not enjoy folks doing that to me. However, I feel like to have let this one “slide” would’ve been to turn my back on not only the man I am working for (calling someone “such a liar!” feels like a pretty personal attack to me..), but the ideals of what I and my colleagues are working for, as well.

I started to launch into a respectful, but firm defense of the President and subsequently my beliefs. Not to make myself sound perfect–I was pretty fired up too–but I think I at least tried hard to strike a polite tone.

The roommate, however, seemed to have quite the attitude about it. She went on to say “He has broken every campaign promise!” (Interestingly enough, though it turned out she was a conservative leaning Republican, one of her biggest beefs with the President was that he “didn’t close Guantanamo like he promised”. I have to say this is the first time I’ve heard a conservative complain about that) and that I “should find a different internship right away” as “he’s definitely going to lose”.

I could go off on a whole different tangent about how rude that last statement was of her. I’m sorry, I don’t think I’d say that, even to an RNC or Bachmann campaign intern/ worker. It’s one thing to disagree about the particular political stance or candidate, but to put down what someone is actually doing, day to day, putting their heart and time and effort (though again it doesn’t feel like that to me as I enjoy it so much, but for sake of argument) into…that just seems completely inconsiderate to me. But that’s not the point of this post.

The point is based on what happened next, as the conversation continued to turn. About how, in summary, the President is “a socialist”, that  his health care reform act is “Unconstitutional” and that anyone who cannot afford their insurance should “just go on Medicaid”. I pointed out how many people fall within the eligibility gap for those programs, to which she scoffed, saying “Well I went without insurance for a year and I’m fine!” (Nevermind that she is a 20-something in presumably good health..one of the “I’m invincible!” of my generation..) That if you ( a general you) don’t have a job, it’s “your problem. Those people are either drug addicts or need to get an education”. Nevermind the fact that even a college degree–invaluable in so many ways as it is–is by no means a guarantee of employment. (I know I went for months, after I graduated college in December of 2009, after sending in countless resumes, without a job before I started my graduate level education in fall of 2010, even after sending countless resumes, even to places like Pet Smart. Apparently she’s never been in a state harshly impacted  by the economy (elected officials of her persuasion, I am sorry, left on the desk for the President his first day in office ) like Arizona–and I was in Tucson, one of the more cosmopolitan areas of the state).

There were many factual errors in her statements, though that’s not even my problem with what she said. Or even that she has a different point of view from mine. I have family and friends who disagree with me politically. Again, I try not to judge someone based on their beliefs. This girl and I even went on to have a fairly amicable conversation later on (I came to find out she volunteered on Bob McDonnell’s campaign in Virginia. As much as I think he and others like him are lousy at actually governing, I have to admire anyone who works for what they believe in, even if I think they are wrong). I’m not saying she is a bad person at all (don’t know her nearly well enough to say that).  It’s not her that this post is aimed at.

But rather the point of view she was espousing.

The “I got mine. Too bad, so sad for you if you don’t got yours”.

Everyone is entitled to their view point, of course.

But I couldn’t disagree more.

What the President said in the quote used in the graphic I posted at the beginning  embraces the opposite point of view, the one I embrace, the one that is one of  my biggest inspirations for being here, doing this in the first place.

Critics might class this point of view as “socialist”. I prefer to think of it as looking at America, not in terms of “me” but in terms of “we”.

“Out of many, we are one..”

My intention with this post was not to preach or get on the soapbox, though I guess it’s pretty much inevitable that it will come across as such to some. But I felt inspired to make it as both the graphic and the anecdote I just described exemplify “why we fight”. Why we are working so hard to help keep this man in office, though (and he himself has said this on numerous occasions)   it’s not, at the end of the day, a fight for Barack Obama (awesome and inspiring as he is!) the man but for what he stands for. What the Democratic Party stands for. What we stand for.   The fight to keep the country from going back in the wrong direction (slowly as the progress has, for so many reasons, turned out to have been made, at least it’s progress!). The fight for the less fortunate people the other side, whether they realize or intend to or not, tends to overlook.

Unpleasant as it was at the time, I am actually glad I had that exchange. It has inspired me to fight even harder. So a shout out to that girl, to the maker of that graphic, and to the Decemberists.  🙂

I fully intend to keep going. This is not a sprint.. but a marathon.

More soon!

Tara

“All politics is personal”..

Speaker (yes, I still choose to refer to her as that, just my personal preference :)) and Congresswoman (and one of my political heroes) Nancy Pelosi spoke the words in my subject line a year and a half ago, in reference to the debate over health care reform. But while I feel that saying is indeed very apt for that debate, I feel like it encompasses so many other aspects of politics as well. Namely the personal aspects.

On Friday afternoon, I was informed by a “gentleman” who called our offices that I am, and I quote, “a piece of shit who doesn’t deserve [my] position”.

Sorry for the language, but that was exactly what was said..in exactly the tone you are probably envisioning it to have been in.

The fact that I am blogging about it, some four days later, is probably evidence enough that it bothered me, does bother me. Not because I believe this person’s rancid words. (No, I am not perfect by any means..but I’d at least like to believe I am generally better than this complete and very angry stranger’s description of me). But because of the fact that a simple difference in point of view could provoke such a hateful reaction, again from a total stranger.

And he wasn’t even a “tea bagger”, either. I have to be careful how specific I get with the details in a public space such as this blog, but basically, he was one of the “Primary Obama!” crowd. A relatively small and ever evaporating constituency (I don’t mean to sound arrogant in saying that, but like the Jay-Z quote on my “About Me” says, “Men lie, women lie..numbers don’t”).  But a very vocal one. To observe some spaces in the Internet/blogosphere and you’d think that the President had no base.   They seem to hate him nearly as much as the Tea Party crowd. The only difference seems to be that these people hate Republicans even more..

..But back to the anecdote at hand.

I am “Office Manager” in my division at my internship, which means that one of my daily tasks is to “man the phones” in the office.  Being a high profile political organization, you can imagine the variety of phone calls that we get.  Most have been pretty positive overall. We do get some pretty offbeat requests and suggestions from time to time (including one caller who I swear was using one of those voice changer apps on Skype or another application like that–sorry I am rather technologically tone deaf when it comes to Skype and the like as I have never used it), suggesting that we scrap Internet job search applications (you might be asking how a political campaign or organization alone can do this..or even the President himself. I am scratching my head right along with you..)  and answering my attempted interjections with a “What?” “What?”, everytime, lol. And yes, we’ve gotten our fair share of critical calls regarding the President. Which, as much as I may personally disagree, is fair enough. We live in a free country, with free speech.

But what happened Friday..crossed the line.

I answered the phone with my standard greeting (“Hello, Obama for America”). The guy’s first reaction was a snarky laugh, followed by “Well, no one is for Obama anymore..”

Then he launches into this tirade about how he’s traveled all over the  country, using his “own goddamn money”,  and “no one, not even Democrats will vote for Obama”. He based much of this on talking to “Democrats in Kentucky”, which–no offense to any Kentuckians reading this–I could have told him would happen as Kentucky never was and never will be Obama country..

He then proceeds to “beg” us to run another candidate. I politely thank him for his concerns and comments and wrap up the conversation as, quite frankly, we simply cannot spend more than 5 minutes on each call like this or the phone would be tied up for hours.

I then step out to run some errands that needed to be done. The call record shows that he called right back while I was out.

Then the phone rings.

It’s him-again.

I don’t even get a “hello” in before he launches into another tirade, accusing me of being “the rudest person I have ever done business with” and that he’s “trying to get Obama re-elected but I won’t help”. Uh…that wasn’t exactly what you had said before, buddy..I thought  inside my head, though of course didn’t say aloud.

I again try to get words in edgewise, but he drops the “you’re a piece of shit” bomb on me, then hangs up.

His number was subsequently blocked upon my conversation about this with my supervisors, who reassured me that he was just one of “the crazies”, but it still stung. This might sound pathetic, but I was holding back tears in the coffee room (where I went to catch a break and kind of regroup after this).

This person doesn’t and never will know me, at all.  We will (hopefully!) never even meet. And the incoherence of his statements alone should be enough to make me simply toss it aside and move on.

But again, “all politics is personal”.

I have , of course, been told off as a result of my politics many times over the years I have been politically active. I have, for example, been in more heated message board and Twitter arguments about the subject than I can count on one hand. But somehow, the more intimate communication source of the phone made it more personal to me in this instance. It’s like the vitriol was able to more profoundly invade my space and consciousness and subsequently, my feelings, because  I was actually hearing this guy’s voice, it was actually directed at me, not latte_lib_86, or any of my other handles, though they are of course “me” too. But this, somehow, was different. I could not hide behind my computer screen  or sugarcoat its effect on me with sarcasm or emoticons or LOLs.

Somehow, it felt more real. And perhaps inherently, more personal.

Don’t get me wrong-I am very passionate about my politics too. I probably would not be here in DC or have even created this blog if I wasn’t. And I have said my share of snarky and otherwise not so nice things about folks on “the other side”.

But I’d like to think I would not be reduced to calling a complete stranger “a piece of shit”, simply because their political views and outlooks did not match mine.

Or if I’ve ever felt compelled to, this would be the perfect “check yourself” moment.

I don’t mean to sound “emo” or otherwise regretful with this post. I LOVE my “position”, my time here in DC, and all the opportunities and privileges associated with it, the adventure itself.  And I know this little episode cannot compare with the vitriol that is so often directed at President Obama, or Senator Kerry (I don’t imagine being referred to as”Lurch” or “Herman Munster” (though these folks need glasses! :)), or having the medals you earned while risking your life to save the men on your boat during Vietnam questioned as many on the Right so often did and still do, feels very nice, but somehow the good Senator keeps going..and going strong!) or even Congresswoman Pelosi herself (she tends to get it especially bad from these folks), all people I greatly admire and all people who have inspired/do inspired me enough to pursue this journey in the first place endure either directly or indirectly on a constant basis.  But it is enough to remind me of the fact that “all politics is personal”. And what we say and direct at others does matter.

Behind every political idea, ideology, etc, there is a person.

 

Whom vitriol can and probably does impact on one level or another.

 

I am learning to let it roll off my shoulders, like my political heroes apparently have done (or they likely would not even be in the field anymore, much less going strong in their respective capacities).   But I frankly wouldn’t be human if it didn’t effect me. Or make me think.

 

Just some “food for thought”, as the (overused ) saying goes. Even re-hashing, much less devoting a blog entry to this incident probably feels like a waste of space to most reading this, but this blog was meant to document the journey, the ups and as well as the downs, the rewards as well as the lessons..

 

*steps off soapbox, :)*

 

More to come soon!

 

 

Tara