365 days later: ruminations from one person on the video team
This week I got the above adorable card from my father. Snail mail style. It was an inflated take on his daughter because I have served in no wars and am not a Veteran — that honor goes to others. The “job” he references is my work in 2016 as the Supervising Producer for the Video Team in the Campaign to elect Hillary Clinton as President. My role was to oversee the videos produced by myself and videographers working in battleground states, which expanded into coalition content and then voter education. Basically, I wasn’t filming Katy Perry knocking on doors and registering people to vote (important though and thanks!). My team, which spread across 15 states, and I created videos about everyday people — a woman in New Hampshire who’s an Alzheimer’s advocate (when she’s not caring for her mother and husband, both afflicted) or a Detroit home care worker who was part of the Fight for a $15 minimum wage. Canvassing Katy got more hits than my videos, but I’m still proud of our work. And, like Dad said in his letter, no one can take it away.
One year ago, we were on the stage at the Javitz Center and felt it all crash down. No glass, just rubble. And I am still sad and angry. I’m a sad and angry citizen, because Donald Trump is a dangerous joke. I’m a sad and angry woman for fill-in-the-blank/infinite reasons. And then there are the selfish reasons which make me sad and angry for being sad and angry. In one night, I went from producing a video that would have played before the first female US President Elect made her first speech in that role to being out of work till February. All the prospects after we lost were different than if we would’ve won. Many places wouldn’t take on a campaign worker in my capacity. In an instant, the biggest accolade felt like a blip.
Hindsight is always 20/20, especially in 2017. Everyone knows for sure why we’re in the spot we’re in. Why we lost. But they don’t. And we didn’t either. It’s a cocktail of mistakes. I made them. So did others. I don’t share all the same opinions as my campaign colleagues, and so in the spirit of not speaking for people whom I am not, I won’t do it here. Personally, I wish I would not have trusted the metrics so much and instead followed my gut. I wish I would’ve remembered that I love the stories and the lives of everyday people because they are amazing, even if they get less likes on Facebook. And it turns out people care about those issues, because most people are everyday people. I certainly am.
The mistakes are real. But the one thing I will not concede is the camaraderie and support. I hate it when people doubt that. Because it was legit. I learned that my fourth day on the job. Elizabeth Warren came to our office that day — she’s a total idol of mine — and I was finishing my first week at a dream job. Everything was possible and bright. That night, as I was walking toward home, I was attacked. A man ran after me and pushed me down face first onto the street. No one was around. It happened so fast and I was so terrified I couldn’t even scream. I got up, hit and kicked him repeatedly and ran away. I will never know how bad it could’ve been and I’m lucky for that. The point of this story isn’t that I’m one of many women who something like this has happened too. It’s that after being at my job on the Campaign for less than a week, the support, care, and outreach I experienced from my video team surpassed that of some of my closest friends. My boss left me a message, which I have yet to delete, asking me the best way she could handle it for me, “because everyone is different and if you want me to tell the team you don’t feel well, I will. If you want me to tell them everything I will. Or I’ll figure it out if you don’t know what you want”. It was empathy in the realest sense because it acknowledged human difference. I told her to tell my team. I was sent flowers and shown so much love and kindness while I was home and when I came back to work. That truth is something no one can take away from me.
The sting of losing might never totally go away but I have to try to let it go. If I just revel in the pain I’ll end up the Miss Havisham of 2016: living in a dusty house in Westchester wearing moth eaten pantsuits with copies of Hard Choices and It Takes a Village piled from floor to ceiling. Instead, I’m a lucky lady with a father that thinks I deserve a Veteran’s Day card. But because of that job — the complete experience and kindness I received — I will not stop doing my part. I intend to make content that encourages empathy and knowledge as long as I am able and on this earth. Because fighting for what’s right is worth it. And no one can take that away from us.