Campaign Retrospective
Part 1: Personal Barriers

I did mention that I was helping out with the Obama campaign just recently. Well, I'll share with you... I guess it's not exactly a secret, but one would think I wouldn't want it shared widely.

I really wasn't very good at campaigning.

That isn't to say that I wasn't helping out that much. In the role I eventually found myself in, I was doing a great deal of work! Then again, the role I found myself in was to be in charge of data entry for a specific (fairly small) area. It was an important job, there's no doubt about that, and it meant that I had to be an effective manager as well, unless I wanted to be doing all of the data entry myself.

I wouldn't call it "campaigning" though. Not in the sense of going out and talking to people about how they're voting, or whether they'd be willing to volunteer for the campaign. I did small amounts of the latter, with people who had already expressed an interest with data entry, getting them connected to the team I was building and ensuring that they were trained in the system we used. There's quite the difference between that and calling people who have perhaps expressed an unspecified interest in maybe volunteering sometime in the future. The days I tried the latter, earlier in the campaign...? Let's just say they were not pleasant ones.

Admittedly, talking to people about how they're voting went a little better. It helped that the area where I was working was heavily Democratic to begin with; there was very little of trying to convince people to vote for Obama and a lot more of making sure that people already predisposed towards voting for Obama actually got out and voted. As far as I'm concerned, the latter is a lot easier than the former. Either way, though, while it wasn't as wildly uncomfortable as asking people to volunteer, it had all too many unpleasant moments as well.

I think part of this has to do with my personality. I'm a lot more comfortable supporting from the rear line, so to speak. I'd rather work to enable everyone else to do their jobs more effectively. Certainly I'd take that over chipping away at a job which I'm simply not as good at. Which is how it ended up working in the end; my focusing on getting data entered left everyone else with more time to handle the rest of the things that needed doing. (I think, anyway!)

The other part of it, though, is the way in which the campaign conducted these operations. This is something which I'm a little more reluctant to talk about, in part because I'm not sure if I'm allowed to. The kinds of information connected to the campaign that were not to be shared honestly surprised me a little. Whether it should be proprietary or not, well, that's a matter for an entirely separate post. For what it's worth, there were good reasons for all of those decisions, to the best of my ability to tell at least. (And lest anyone think "the election's over, it doesn't matter anymore", I have no doubt that there are people already preparing for 2014 and 2016.) It is possible that I'm being overly cautious in this respect, but I'd rather err on the side of caution.

Re-framing it as a matter of my personality, though, I will say that I find it very hard to ignore it and keep going once someone's told me "no". There are a lot of reasons for that which I think probably should be much more widely held, in all honesty. The most basic way to put it, though, is this: that a person who says "no" is establishing a boundary, one that the rest of us are obligated to respect, not tear down or ignore.

Obviously someone's personality will play a part in determining at what they are and are not effective at doing. Just as there are times when it's a good thing to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. In the end, though, I think the line I just laid out is an absolute one, not to be crossed under any circumstances, as far as my personality is concerned. And I don't regret the effect that had on my role within the campaign. Indeed, in some respects I'm more disappointed that I would be asked to cross that line in the first place.

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