The Political Activist
The Political Activist
I think a lot of people only realize the impact of politics on their lives when there is a crisis.
Once COVID hit, the stakes felt higher. I mean, the stakes were higher. A lot of people were very suddenly realizing how great an impact their elected representatives can have on their day-to-day lives, and that was true for me, too.
In 2016, my mom and I went and knocked on doors in Philadelphia with Hillary Clinton … but we all know how that turned out. After that election, I was like, “Oh my God, I could’ve done so much more.” I promised myself that the next time an election rolled around, I would do everything I could to make the difference that I wanted to see in the world.
Last summer, I went to Montana to work on Steve Bullock’s Senate campaign. When I went, in July, it had the second lowest COVID rate in the country. So, I came from New York, where no one was doing anything, to Montana where everyone was doing most things.
A lot of our campaigning was in person. We never opened our office to volunteers, but we would meet them outside and we would have events outside. We had a lot of first-time volunteers – in a year when so much felt out of our control, getting involved civically and electing the politicians you want to represent you is something that you can control.
By October and November, we were regularly working 80 hours a week. We spent every moment of the day trying to elect the politicians we wanted to elect. But in the midst of all of that, I felt so grateful to be able to do something where I could actually be in the world and be relating to other people. I wanted to wake up the day after the election knowing that I did everything I could do.
Throughout the months I was there, the COVID rates slowly ticked up and up, and by November, they were some of the highest in the country. It was kind of funky because Steve Bullock was the current governor of Montana when I was there, so he was trying to balance running his race for Senate with controlling the COVID outbreak in the state. It’s a pretty fine line to walk between opening up and shutting down, especially as a politician who wants to get re-elected.
There’s always a part of me that thinks that I could’ve worked harder or made a few extra phone calls or put in an hour more a couple days before the election. But moving to Montana, a state that I had never previously visited, and working so many hours and making thousands and thousands of phone calls and recruiting hundreds of volunteers and holding probably 100 events with our candidates – it was what I could do.
I am lucky enough to find myself in a spot where I can fight to make the world a better place, and lots of people need to just use their time to get by. So, I’m going to fight for myself, but also for them.
This as-told-to interview is part of COVID in the Community, a series created by students in the Reporting classes at the Newhouse School in Spring 2021. COVID in the Community documents the experiences of Syracuse area residents living through this extraordinary time.