People wonder, sometimes, what keeps me going. What motivates me? What inspires me? And I say: personal narratives. Narratives like… Meagan Cassidy’s.
On election night 2008, freshman Meagan Cassidy left Lake Forest College and hopped a train to Chicago to celebrate Barack Obama’s impending victory.
“There was probably no better place to be,” Cassidy said in a phone interview. The excitement generated that evening spurred her on to become an intern and then a field organizer in three congressional contests and two human rights campaigns.
Now a senior, Cassidy, 21, said she’s not working on a campaign this time around.
There’s nothing like looking at a Democratic activist soured on the messy task of doing individual campaigns and thinking I helped with that disillusionment. Not specifically, but I contributed. It’s very empowering, really.
For the morbidly curious, the three Congressional contests were: Julie Hamos (went down in flames in the IL-10 Democratic primary); Carolyn Maloney (NY-14, and it’s one of those districts where the incumbent can only be dislodged with an asteroid strike); and something called the Illinois Democratic Coordinated Campaign (GOP +4 in 2010. In Illinois). I mention this mostly because this suggests that what could have been an annoyingly active career in the field of practical politics has been nipped in the bud; instead, Ms. Cassidy will apparently be spending her most productive activist years trying to convince the Illinois legislature (Democratic-controlled, mind you) to pass same-sex marriage legislation*. Which is fine by me, on at least two levels… but it should not be fine to the Democratic party overseers who were expecting to get more work out of her.
All of this would be academic if it weren’t so entertainingly diagnostic; not to mention the marvelously bitter fruit of the Obama administration’s misreading of the 2008 election results. Frankly, the White House should have realized from the start that their win represented conditions that were unique even by the standards of Presidential elections; if they had then possibly they wouldn’t be in a situation right now where they more or less have to depend on a miracle to save them. But such things occur when you misread your mandate… or see one that is not, in point of fact, actually there.
But don’t mind me.
*Hey, what’s the difference between Meagan Cassidy and me on the one hand, and Barack Obama on the other? Cassidy and I both have the courage to support same-sex marriage in public.