The O’Malley for President office was small. In fact, it wasn’t even on the map. As we drove through Manchester I was half sure we were being taken to a Papa Johns. That’s what google maps was telling me, anyway.
Inside, the office resembled any small grassroots campaign effort. The room was filled with an eclectic collection of tables and chairs and a few old couches. The walls were plastered with signs, cutouts, and canvassing guides.
“O'MALLEY” was written in glittering, christmas light adorned letters, though the M was unhinged and dangling off the wall.
Also inside were about ten people, some permanent members of the campaign, some volunteers, and all of them enthusiastic about their candidate, Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland. My fellow intern Rhea, who will also be blogging about her experience, and I spent the day phone banking.
Phone banking is one of those things that you dread until you actually start doing it. I made close to one hundred calls today, and in the end I managed to reach about seven people. I only actually talked to one woman, and I believe we both learned a lot from each other.
She explained to me why she was a Hilary Clinton supporter and talked to me about how dissatisfied she was with America’s polarized and stagnant political system. She was losing faith and felt that political strength was necessary to accomplish anything, which she believed Hilary possessed.
After she was finished venting to me, I couldn’t disagree with her. In fact, it felt insincere to leap into campaign rhetoric at that moment and dismiss the very real frustration she had expressed. I felt her pain, I was also frustrated.
But our conversation had made me less so. It inspired me. We were both involved in and begging to fix a system that was broken. I gave her my pitch for O’Malley, I asked her to reconsider my candidate and by the end of our talk she agreed that he was a good idea. Apparently I had inspired her, too.
Even breaking through with just one voter was thrilling. O’Malley might not have the big ad buys, massive rallies, or campaign funds that the other democratic candidates have, but looking around at the people I was working alongside today I could tell that he has genuine support.
No one chooses the underdog unless they’re completely determined. If I could return to the office each day and have a connection with even one voter, it would make my experience on this campaign completely worth it.
-- Emma Whitford is a St. Olaf sophomore from Middleton, Wis., majoring in Political Science. She is in New Hampshire as part of a St. Olaf political science class studying the presidential election.