Wed 28 Apr, 2004 06:48 pm
Every time I hear Kerry on the campaign trail I imagine he's wearing an ascot and delivering his lines from a yacht.
With that said, I would prefer to see him beat Bush. So, I hauled my posterior up to his headquarters to volunteer for a couple of weekends.
Here is the landscape of the Kerry headquarters: Some wicked pricey real estate. His office occupies 2 floors of a fancy buildiing in the Capitol, where I was told that Madeline Albright rents some space. Marble everywhere, etched glass, real foliage, high security, the works. you have to show ID at the door, and then when they admit you, you ride a wood paneled, mirrored, glassy type elevator to the 7th floor.
The first weekend they put me on answering letters detail. For instance, Joe Shmo from Kokomo writes to ask: "What is Kerry's postion on Iraq?" I was instructed to merely stuff an envelope with the zeroxed, wordy, dull, dull, dull letter on his policy...
I don't know, I mean, if i took the time to write in and received an impersonal form letter, I'd be a bit annoyed. It wouldn't change my mind on voting for him, but isn't the personal touch the best way?
After going there a second time, I have given up on donating my time to Kerry. It was just high-stress, chaos, too much like work, and why would I want to remind myself on a Saturday that I am at work? Oh, and did I mention the empty bottles of beer lying around? (that's not like work) Or, the pizza boxes? the G. Bush punching bag? (infantile) And the perrenial favorite of over stressed campaign workers: The nerf basketball? (straight out of some bad commercial, or worse, real life)
Oh well, there are plenty of other organizations that could benefit from my time...
If Kerry received one personal message from one in every 1,000 Americans, and took only 5 minutes to read each message and 5 minutes to reply, (having staff open, seal and stamp envelopes), working 40 hours a week, it would take him two-and-a-half years to finish.
However, that is why he has staff and volunteers. I was directed to simply stuff the envelope with the letter. Nothing more. So I asked one of the staff if it was alright if I hand wrote a quick note at the top of the form letter. What I wrote, was something like:
"Phoenix, thanks for writing, I hope this answers your question, please feel free to write again if you have any further questions."
Very simple, but it satisfies the need for SOME kind of recognition of the person who is considering pulling the lever for him....
it takes less than 30 seconds to read the letters, most of them are short and it took me 5 seconds, at the most to scrawl a thank you...another 30 seconds to stuff, stamp and seal said envelope.
A personal comment is a good idea.
You're probably aware that candidates can't really spend time monitoring what the volunteers are doing on their behalf, they trust that you'll do whatever is right.
I've never imagined John Kerry in an ascot! He seems a bit stiff to me, but not uppity. I spoke with him once at a college event, and he was just like anyone else, only richer and better educated in politics than many of us were!
When I did some campaign volunteering, I hung fliers, made phone calls, and visited people. I was fortunate that I missed out on the stuffing envelopes part of the deal!
But I found it quite fascinating and even exciting.
suzy, thanks, and kerry was nowhere in sight, and that is understandable. i don't imagine anyone writing a letter to him expects that he will respond. however, someone needs too, and that's where peons like me come in. well, came in, i've ditched my ideals for some weekend sanity...
Yeah, weekends are good!
But as a peon, you sure did a good job! People like being acknowledged, as we know!
I've gotten letters back from him and other politicos when I've written them first, but I often wonder if a secretary writes them, or if they set aside time to actually respond.
I did once write to Ted Kennedy to ask him to write a letter of congratulations to a colleague. I gave him some detail about her, and he sent the most wonderful, personalized letter, mentioning stuff about his family and adding his personal thoughts about her achievements (my company has a vague connection with the Kennedys). It was so personal and so kind that I really think he composed and typed the letter himself. And the signature was real, not a stamp, which is refreshing.
suzy, ah, ted kennedy. despite the scandal that plagues him and his family, despite their enormous wealth, the kennedy's have the common touch. i am as certain as you are that he penned the letter.
his son, patrick, is the congressman from my home state, rhode island. he lives in a working class, irish neighborhood and the elderly people love him.
i'm sure kerry responds to letters himself, but it would be urealistic, while he's campaigning, to think he would have the time or the energy to do so.
my posting is really about some observations i had while i was there...the chaos didn't really surprise me, but i was hoping for something a bit more satisfying from volunteering...guess i'll just be sleeping in till i find another opportunity...
john, i agree. when questioned by the media about why bush had to bring cheny along he dodged the question with an inadequate ansswer and said something like he looks forward (ha) to answering the questions.
talk about subterfuge...he looks forward to being grilled? his answer is something out of "great answers for the interview"... eeesh.
Cool on ya for doing the volunteer gig.
blatham, thanks, but my actions are not as altrustic as they appear. i went to get something out of it, and, not having got much, i've stopped. i think i would be more worthy of praise if i stuck it out, waded through the beer-empties, the staff members thinking they're hot-shots for working 15 hour days, the swirl of chaos amidst their optimism...
well, half a cool on ya, then. But still half.