The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Nothing can stand in the way of millions calling for change

One-hundred six days. That is the approximate amount of time that I spent pouring my heart and soul into the Barack Obama Campaign For Change. Prior to that I had been the typical skeptic about American politics and the strength of our country. This campaign changed everything.

I was still in high school and worked out of a small office (dubbed “The Office”) in La Crosse, Wis., where the regular workers became like family. Six kids from my high school and I were the “super volunteers/interns,” and we prided ourselves on that. I faced fears of speaking with strangers and stepped out of my comfort zone to call area voters and knock on doors. I passed out countless leaflets, shouted on a parade float, volunteered at rallies and was absolutely transformed. Politics became my new passion; this campaign was my love. I sought out the results of polls, shirked my duties as a student to watch the debates, put in an extra hour or two at the office and reveled in all that was about this campaign. Though I did not work nearly as long on this campaign as a majority of the other volunteers, I did feel the full force of unprecedented greatness.

The last weekend was called “GOTV Weekend” (Get Out the Vote) and by Election Day, my knuckles were raw from canvassing and my voice tired from calling. Nov. 4 is what would make or break how much our work was worth. Going to school wasn’t even an option in my books; I had to be in the center of the action. I had to be out there one more time to make sure I worked right until the end.

Out of sheer anticipation I was out of bed by 5 a.m. I spent that day rallying in the center of UW-La Crosse, going door-to-door and directing people to where they could vote. Around 5 p.m. we found out the democrats had secured Pennsylvania and Ohio, which was a mini victory for all of us, but not enough to call it a day. A couple of friends and I headed out one last time, into the chilly night, to knock on doors to make sure the community had voted.

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8 p.m. rolled around and that was the end of the campaigning. Now it was time to go change into nicer clothes and head to what we all were hoping was a victory party. The venue was a country club that housed enough televisions so the greatest amount of people would be able to see the results as the nation’s polls continued to close. The place was jam packed with anxious attendees; the main room and side room were completely full. We all sat around in an anxious fervor of hopes and excitement. We wanted to be confident but not so confident we jinxed it. In response to the report of an Ohio victory, my campaign director said, “It doesn’t matter. He hasn’t won. We can’t celebrate until we know Obama has won.”

It was almost ten o’clock and that meant California’s polls were closing up. This was crucial. The entire room was silent. We waited with bated breath. On CBS a message on the screen proclaimed “Breaking News”, and my stomach dropped. It felt like five minutes instead of mere seconds to hear what the news was. “Barack Obama is the projected president-elect of the United States.” I swear the room hesitated for just one second and then erupted! People were shouting, jumping, and declaring “Yes we did! Yes we did!”

I turned to my best friend, who I had worked with for countless hours, and gave her a huge hug. I turned to the campaign director, a man who I had become good friends with, and jubilantly embraced him. He whispered, “We did it, kid.” and I broke down. Tears of elation were pouring down my face. I ran from one friend to another jumping up and down, giving countless hugs. I made a few tearful phone calls to my family, proclaiming what they already knew. In those moments of victory I was infinite. Nothing could have tainted that feeling.

Eventually the crowd hushed a bit, awaiting the victory speech. Never will I forget the sight of my high school aged campaign friends standing around a television, hands to their hearts and tears streaming down their faces as they recited the “Pledge of Allegiance.” It was pride at its finest. Obama appeared on the screen and the room erupted again, but fell silent much faster. Everyone in the vicinity stopped around a T.V. and smiled, some of the biggest smiles I have ever seen, as the 44th president of the United States spoke of the long journey that had brought us to that moment.

In the past year the memories of that transformative campaign pour over me. I remember the emotions on that night and can’t help but smile. The country will continue to see tough times and the criticisms will still fly from party-to-party, but I will always hold a special corner of my heart for that campaign and for our president. His words still inspire me and, after such hard work, I have never questioned that “nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.”

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