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Lessons learned from the trail

Posted: Friday, Nov 16th, 2012

After the election season has ended, I have had time to reflect on the season that it was. However, I spent the campaign season looking at it in a far different light than most Americans. Rather, I worked on Ed Perlmutter’s reelection campaign in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District.

When I took the job this past summer, I felt reluctant, excited, and nervous. I had no idea what lay ahead. Yet, I knew there was a world of opportunity ahead of me. Mostly, I thought this would be an amazing opportunity for networking.

I hated the campaign in the beginning. The average person does not feel the urgency of a high profile campaign like staff members do until late September and October. It was boring and without quantitative substance. At one point I wanted to quit so badly I applied to anything and everything under the sun.

I never quit. I could not bring myself to it. Something was at work inside of me that said this path, no matter how unbearable at times, is a path that must walked.

As September came and went and October grew into a flurry of politics, the excitement came. The Perlmutter race had become a nationally targeted contest – which brought many things. Most notably, this meant the Perlmutter campaign would merge with the Obama campaign. This brought the president, former President Clinton, many other politicians and national leaders, and many celebrities into my life. At many times, I became lost in the whirlwind. But at the end of the day, there was still a job to be done. So, the work continued.

There was a high moment in the campaign when I was able to shake President Obama’s hand. This stands out to me because, well, he is the President of the United States. More importantly, it brought my focus back to what I was doing.

Many people think of politics as a dirty game that is driven by power and greed. Political and government leaders are often viewed in that vein – many consider them liars and nothing else. These claims may hold true to some politicians and some leaders. But, it’s not applicable to all.

Working on a congressional campaign has its perks. In this case, the perk is knowing the candidate. I got to know Ed Perlmutter on a somewhat personal level. I know him, his wife, his three daughters, his sister, and many of his cousins. I have shared stories, dinners, and games with these people. The people embraced me and proved that there is something behind the suit.

The person or the family, though, does not always tell the story. There are also the people who he represents. As I talked with voters in the 7th District, I learned more about the man that makes the politician. People talked about Ed Perlmutter as though they were talking about a friend or next-door neighbor. Even those who said they would not vote for him could not find an ill word to discredit the man.

I learned from the voters that there are leaders who just happen to be politicians. There are actual champions for the people who care deeply about the work they are doing for their constituents.

This is why I chose a path that affects others. This is why I did not quit the campaign when I wanted to. This is why we need to remember that there are true leaders, and there are true champions of the people.

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