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Campaign Volunteers: The Unsung Heroes of Political Races

03/04/2016

“I don’t usually do things like this. However, it was my belief in what he stood for as to what motivated me to want to help him,” exclaimed Alan Davis, who was working for Attorney Alaric May Green’s campaign for the Jefferson County 10th Circuit Court Place Eleven.

Davis’s belief is the basic core reason as to why people volunteer to help political campaigns. They do it because they are so passionate about one particular candidate that they want to do everything in their power to help them win. Campaign volunteers are ordinary people like you and me. Typically, these people do the grunt work of trying to win an election. They have the honor of doing the most mundane tasks. These tasks include handing out campaign literature to perspective voters, making phone calls to registered voters, putting together, and delivering yard signs. As a former campaign volunteer, I can empathize with these volunteers with how monotonous these tasks can become.

The first volunteer that I met was Al Bell, a 64 year-old retired juvenile probation officer, who volunteered for Judge Agnes Chappell’s Campaign. When asked why he was working for Judge Chappell, Mr. Bell commented, “I thought that she would be a fair judge. While I was a juvenile probation officer, many of my clients went in front of her. She never dished out any punishments to my clients that I thought were unfair.” This aspect of fairness was the key characteristic that Bell thought would make Judge Chappell an excellent candidate for the position that she was running for. It’s important to be fair because each case is different and all the aspects need to be taken into consideration when making a rational decision.

Another campaign volunteer that I talked to was a 31 year-old teacher’s assistant at W.J. Christian named Crystal Johnson who worked for William A. “Tony” Bell Jr’s campaign for the open district court judge position in the Jefferson County 10th Judicial Circuit. When asked what the first election she ever voted in was, she responded by saying, “I first voted in 2008 for President Obama. That whole experience inspired me to get involved in politics. I was so inspired by Obama that I wanted to volunteer for current Birmingham Mayor Bell’s campaign last year.” Crystal had a personal connection to the candidate she volunteered for. She told me that, “His wife is my doctor. That was a great incentive to get involved in his campaign. I already knew that I liked him because of his willingness to help the people.” The main issue that Bell was running on was that he wanted to reform traffic ticket laws. Bell wants to change the law to where you won’t get your license revoked just for getting too many traffic tickets. Johnson said that she had been working on the campaign for a couple of months and that she had started working on it around November.

Davis was the final campaign volunteer that I had a chance to talk to on Super Tuesday. He is currently a lost mitigation specialist for one of the banks in Birmingham. This was Davis’s first time working for a political campaign. While all three of the volunteers seemed motivated to help their candidates, I thought that Davis was the most motivated. I thought this when he described to me what his Tuesday had been like. I was astonished when Davis described his Tuesday as, “I came out to vote around five am this morning and then I came out to volunteer for the campaign after I got off of work”. I had never heard of one volunteer being that motivated before to help a campaign.”

Campaign volunteers are the ones that the political pundits should be thanking when their preferred candidate wins an election. These people do all of the underappreciated tasks of political campaigns and do not receive nearly enough recognition for what they do. It takes a strong amount of dedication to be willing to do the things that they do, in exchange for an unwanted result. I have been on the side of things before where you have sacrificed months of your life for a cause, only for all that time to be wasted since the candidate did not win the election. However, all of the people you meet and the connections you gain make everything worthwhile in the end. This is one of my conclusions as to why people willingly choose to volunteer for political campaigns.

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