PEEK

I'm a Former Obama Campaign Staffer, and I Want the President to Lead Like He Promised Us

This former Obama camp staffer is organizing the rest -- to pressure his candidate for health-care reform.
I just joined thousands of others, including several hundred former staffers from the 2008 presidential campaign, in signing a petition to President Obama, telling him that health care reform without a public option is not "change we can believe in."

As an staffer Obama campaign staffer working as a community organizer in rural Western Pennsylvania's Crawford County, I fought hard for him during the campaign. I worked 16-17 hours a day with no days off for nearly four months, working to get the president elected.

I worked in an overwhelmingly Republican area where there had previously never been a full-time Democratic organizer. I organized more that 250 volunteers into five autonomously run neighborhood teams that conducted aggressive door-to-door and over-the-phone voter contacts every day of the week. These were people who had never been involved in Democratic politics because their area was so overwhelming Republican, but they fought with everything they had because they believed in a presidential candidate who promised to be a fighter against special interests.

There were people like Shelia Lane, a recently laid-off single mother of three, who worked 10 hours every day in the most mundane, inglorious of tasks making sure we elected a president who represented people like herself. There was 66-year old Wayne Hanson, an old-time community organizer, who was recovering from a heart attack and would stay at the office till three in the morning, making sure the plans for our massive Get Out The Vote operations were properly executed.

Their understanding of how important it was to elect Barack Obama led people like Harmony Grogan, from Texas, to quit her high high-paying job as an architect and drive all the way to Pennsylvania to volunteer full time, without pay, to work for change.

It was an incredible moment in American history, when people come together for a common purpose. Never in my life have I seen people open up and work towards a common cause as the good folks of Crawford County did. They endured countless hours of volunteering, vandalism of their properties and, in one instance, being threatened by a man with a shotgun.

On election night, the tears didn't stop streaming down my face -- we won 44 percent of the vote in our county (the biggest win for Democrats in 50 years in that county) and won my home state of Pennsylvania. So many people had given so much and had fought so hard together because they believed in this man's capacity to stand up and fight for them.

I will never forget my experience of those few brief months as long as I live. I'll never forget what I learned: that we could beat any powerful interest in this country if we were just willing to fight hard enough for it.

Speaking at a party for former staffers, a day after he was inaugurated, President Obama called on his staffers to continue the fight they had fought during the campaign. (Watch the clip at around 2:30 -- I've watched it dozens of times and it has never ceased to inspire me!)