Guest Blogger: Susan Campbell McCachren, my sister, writes about her experiences volunteering for both the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns in northwestern North Carolina where she lives

As a volunteer for President Obama in 2012 and also for Candidate Obama in 2008, I, like so many across the country, made a zillion phone calls in a cold office, attacking those call lists, adept at laughing and amusing myself in between calls with the other volunteers only to jump on script when a live person came through on the other end of the phone. I gained a few pounds from leftover Halloween candy, sub sandwiches (yuck!) and missed workouts. Sleep was lost. My back was stiff from all that sitting. And in every photo taken at OFA headquarters, I look pastey and cold in old sweaters and gym shoes. But I can honestly say, I had the time of my life during both campaigns.

When I began volunteering in ‘08 (I was hired as a Deputy Field Organizer toward the end of the campaign) I was profoundly impressed by the tenets of the campaign. Every single person is welcome under Barack Obama’s tent. Each person has value and will be respected. Bring your creativity and innovation. Check your ego at the door. Teamwork is the order of the day. Work hard. Believe in yourselves and believe in each other. YES WE CAN. And the campaign really believed this stuff. They walked the talk. I saw this first hand.

But what took me by total surprise was that my own dreams began coming true. I would want or imagine something happening and then it quickly came to pass. The biggest example of this was meeting and shaking hands with the candidate himself at a town hall in Bristol, Va., in May of 2008. Against all odds, I wound up on the front row. He even autographed my copy of The Audacity of Hope. I had the chance to say “God Bless You!” which I had dreamed of saying and literally never for one minute doubted that I would. Against all odds.

A couple of months later, I saw Michelle Obama speak alongside Maya Angelou in Winston Salem, NC. A longtime admirer of Dr. Angelou’s work, I had really hoped to see her in-person some day. This even t exceeded all expectations.

Several weeks later, my husband Marc and I attended a fund raiser in Asheville, NC and shared dinner and talked politics with legendary music producer T Bone Burnett and his partner, Oscar winner, Callie Khouri. Afterward, we attended T. Bone’s concert, Raising Sand, starring Allison Kraus and Robert Plant, and we went back stage where we met up with he and Callie Khouri again, along with Robert Plant, for photos and autographs. I don’t know why any of this happened. Being rabid music fans, though, this still blows our minds.

And during this 2012 campaign, James Taylor came to our small, NC mountain town and insisted on coming by the OFA office to thank all the volunteers and play a few songs for us. I have wanted to see him live forever but never managed to. Until last month. He told stories about the Beatles and Carol King, and spoke at length about his love for and appreciation of President Obama. It was a very emotional and beautiful afternoon. The woman in her 60’s standing next to me had tears streaming down her face. Yes. We. Can.

And there are other, less flashy but more important stories of dreams coming true while on board with this campaign, such as canvassing a Vietnam vet, Ted, who hadn’t voted in decades because, as a convicted felon, he thought he couldn’t. He had been told that he couldn’t. He had volunteered for that war, believing he was doing what was right for his country and basically his life had been ruined by PTSD and Agent Orange which was brought to us by Monsanto, who claimed it was totally safe - the same corporation that is genetically modifying our food supply, claiming that This Too is safe - but that is another blog entry… He had had violent outbursts, hence, the felony, before meds helped him control his agitation. But in NC, once the sentence is served, including parole, voting rights are reinstated. I registered him as we sat in his trailer watching a speech by Barack Obama on PBS, a speech about how ill advised and wrong the Iraq war is. We were silent as we watched together. It was a profound canvass put together by a campaign that truly does intend to reach out to everyone.

My main point here, and what the Obama Campaigns demonstrated to me Loud and Clear, is that our dreams can and are coming true. Globally and personally. Keep dreaming! Keep believing. Keep going! Work and focus, with unrelenting faith in one another and basic goodness. Stay passionate about what you believe in. It’s an imperfect world. So what. This presidency won’t be perfect. Again, so what. Our aim is true. And the President’s aim is true. Stick together. Check all egos at the door. Brush off the naysayers. Reach out and spread the truth, share the facts. Activism is, to quote Alice Walker, “my rent for living on the planet.” And as the president stated to the young and young-at-heart campaign staff during the staff party in DC, the night after his inauguration in 2009, “You guys didn’t know we couldn’t do this. That’s how we won this. It’s because of you!”

One Response to “Guest Blogger: Susan Campbell McCachren, my sister, writes about her experiences volunteering for both the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns in northwestern North Carolina where she lives”

  1. Luke Says:

    Thanks for sharing Susan and thanks for all your hard work. FORWARD.

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