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« Death of Cynicism | Main | Redemptive, Clarifying »

Tomorrow and the Next Day

By Chad Manspeaker
November 10, 2008

Editor's Note: Chad Manspeaker is the former campaign manager for Nancy Boyda's re-election campaign. Theirs was one of 4 democratic incumbents who lost Tuesday night.

When I was an organizer for the Teamsters, I dedicated six months to working 14 hours a day 6 days a week for a campaign everyone was sure we were going to win. But when the election finally came, we lost.

The night of the loss, our boss called us all into a room and asked us how we felt and I stood up and said, "I want to fight back. Tell me how we can fight back and let's get it done."

The next day, we were back at it. We set out to organize 1,300 workers but because we tried something completely different, we surpassed our goal and organized 13,000 people. We didn't let the feeling of failure knock us down. Instead, we were inspired to continue the fight for something better.

Now, five years later, I am in the same position. I was the campaign manager of Kansas' Second District's Congressional campaign. During the months leading up to Election Day, all indications made us believe that we would be celebrating a victory on November 4. But, after all the votes had been counted, we came up short.

The day after Election Day, I was inspired by various status updates on Facebook. My friends expressed their feelings of hope about our country's new leader.

"I am singing patriotic songs and I've never done that before."
"I finally have a President I can be proud of!"
"The wind is blowing and I can feel change in the air."

Others expressed feelings of disappointment in Kansas politics. But just like my days as a community organizer, I was disheartened just long enough to remember how much I wanted to fight. My intention now is to not stop but to move forward.

More than anything, I learned from this campaign that grassroots organizing really does get the job done and new technologies like social networking tools are presenting themselves to make organizing forward even more efficient and effective.

If we are going to change Kansas politics, we must start from the bottom up, not from the top down. Utilizing social networks to build our ground forces and recruit new people will put us in a position to go after local races, could you imagine a city council race with social networking? But we can't stop there. We must build a structure that is more vast than the small races and act as a support mechanism for every race. We must build leadership within our state and retain those young leaders and fostering their enthusiasm. We must be a presence not merely for those who voted Tuesday, but those who will cast ballots in the years to come.

This campaign taught me that if someone has never been forced to run a campaign, no one will know who they really are. It is our job in the coming days, weeks, and months to change the rules and fight to expose people for who they are and what is really behind them. "The true test of our strength is how we rise to master challenges like these when they do arrive."

We must set the loftiest of goals and aim to redefine Democratic politics in the state of Kansas.

We have the inspiration of a great leader in President-elect Barack Obama. We have an amazing pool of talent and people chomping at the bit to make this state something different. Our country has seen that change is possible. We must bring that momentum to Kansas.

If you agree with what I am saying, pass this on. We must start our own grassroots movement to show those who participated, those who watched, and those who didn't care that we can make a difference. Friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, but most importantly let’s start talking, dreaming and organizing.

If we start today, we can organize and fulfill a brighter dream for those who come behind us.
In the words of one of my favorite labor leaders upon his death:

"Don't mourn, organize."

Comments (7)

sarahkatheryn Author Profile Page:

good to have you on EDC, Chad! Thanks for your shout out to the youth movement and a greater need for leadership development in the state. I agree its much needed if we're meant to build a stronger future.

Alicescheshirecat Author Profile Page:

Thank you so much for all the work you did in the 2nd District. We are grateful for your hard work. Welcome to Everyday Citizen!

Bill Smith Author Profile Page:

Great post - we do need to continue to organize! Welcome to the blog.

the_dza Author Profile Page:

I'm still fired up. Time to reeducate some folks. They messed with the bull. son! Great post!

Nora Thomason Author Profile Page:

A warm welcome to EC. This is a phenomenal community.

Congratulations for your fighting spirit - and - for not seeking geographical changes to feed your spirit. I live in DC where every two years there's a major shake-up. When you see somebody on the street, you never say, "How's Rep. X" or "Still with Senator Y?" - instead you say things like, "Who you with these days?" or "What issues are you passionate about and who are you working with?" or "Let me me know after the November election where you end up!"

In truth, it always was and still is about us - the people on the ground, focusing in on the important tasks and priorities and issues - we are the ones that run the government, the campaigns, etc, not the candidates. So often when the candidates lose, it's because they've shot themselves in the foot or fallen on a sword nobody offered them.

But we don't go away. We are the engine and reason.

Proud of your fighting spirit!

Jerry Jacobs Author Profile Page:

Let me add my voice to the welcome chorus.

I stumbled upon this blog a few months ago and it's become my favorite first read every morning. The writers that Pam (or P.J. as she now calls herself) has assembled here really represent a refreshing cross section of the electorate. So many of them are active on the ground - in face to face activism - as well as active online - in social networking and blogging. Of course, I only learn of their work through their writings because I don't know a single one of the writers personally.

As a university professor, I refer all of my students and colleagues to this site as it represents the best of what blogs can be.

You've joined a well-respected site. I will look forward to all your writings. Welcome.

Jerry Jacobs

emily c Author Profile Page:

Chad, you're the perfect person to help keep us going! The work is tiring and difficult, the losses bruise our spirits, the road is long. But the work pays off. The bruises fade. And the road takes us places we never thought we'd be or always wanted to go.
I think this cycle has taught us so much; as someone who got into the mix by heading to Florida for some hardcore canvassing in 2004, our mantra there applies as much today as it did then: Get some rest, put clean socks on, and keep moving. Keep moving.

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