15 Years Ago…
This could be a story about a college freshman- or about a 15 year political career. Take your pick. 15 years ago this August, I moved into my dorm at Moravian College, intent on running Cross-Country for the ‘Hounds. I came home from practice one day, and saw a flier on my building’s door- intern for PA Victory ‘02- the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign organization to elect Ed Rendell Governor and Ed O’Brien to Congress. I called the number, and they scheduled me to come in and interview. I guess I did alright for a total novice kid- they offered me the internship.
My career as a runner in both Track and Field and Cross-Country ended within days after that- I suddenly couldn’t even run a half mile, and when I went to the doctor, they had me get a blood test, and I had mono. I wouldn’t be able to do much athletically for months, and once I was cleared, the drive to compete was gone. That drive had moved a bit. While the mono impacted my ability to do much for the internship, I plugged away as best I could, working events, getting my parents to host a house party for O’Brien, and showing up at canvasses that I could actually take part in. There was the time a man in Emmaus told me he was going to exercise his Second Amendment rights on me, meeting Nancy Pelosi when she came to fundraise for O’Brien, working a fundraiser for Rendell in Martins Creek, and of course the most memorable moment, when I got to greet Vice-President Al Gore at the front-door for a fundraiser he came to Bethlehem for. While the 2002 campaign didn’t end well for Democrats on the whole, it was cool seeing the work pay off at least in that Rendell was elected Governor. It was enough to keep me engaged. Politics replaced sports right around that time as my competitive outlet.
The years since have been rewarding. Whether it was working the Iowa Caucuses, working on Presidential campaigns, or just electing members of Congress, the Senate, and Governors, I’ve had some neat experiences. A lot has changed in me since then. The version of me in 2002 was far more idealistic than the person I’ve become, but also far more oblivious to the issues that face our society. In 2002, I was motivated largely by opposition to the Iraq War. I probably would have agreed with today’s young people about the “obvious evil” of corporate America then. I was less interested in social issues then, and probably less willing to speak out about racism, sexism, and homophobia. I was less a fan of Bill Clinton in those days than I am today, but more of a fan of Bernie Sanders than I am today. I was a lot different person, prior to 15 years on the campaign trail, working for candidates and organizations who have molded and changed what I value.
It’s been a long time.