Sometime that fall I settled on Dean as my candidate. I can't remember why. I remember that unlike Kerry and Edwards Dean had not voted for the Iraq War, largely because governors can't vote on wars. There may have been some healthcare aspect to him; had he gotten all the little kids in Vermont insured? Who knows? Who cares?
I do remember reading an article about his campaign and being taken with the idea of a houseparty. The article I read had said something like, "Some people gather over donuts and coffee, some gather over beer" and I immediately thought, "But what about donuts AND beer?" That was enough of a theme for me!
I think my boyfriend at the time had picked Dean before I had, and he was game for some politicking. That was essential, because someone with a car needed to pick up to pick up the keg. I picked a date and registered it on the Dean meetup website. The internet was changing politics! I was going to talk to my neighbors and mobilize them! Not my immediate neighbors though. 'The Jungle' (as my house was referred to, thanks to some graffiti and my room mates propensity for going out into the middle of the street at 2 in the morning and screaming) shared a split house with a group of history grad students who were curiously politically conservative. Down the street in the other direction were three rowhouses occupied by home childcare providers and drug users, who also would use the street for early morning screaming.
No, I would mobilize internet neighbors, preferably some respectable clintonville types, and the creme of the osu student crop. I emailed the Students for Dean president about the party. The Students for Dean told me they couldn't be affiliated with the party because there would be alcohol served, but some of their members would come. Wrong! No Students for Dean would show up.
The format of the party was a sit down meeting at 7, and a ked party at 8:30 or 9. Boy did I try to hustle up people to come to the sit down meeting. I invited all the people from my classes, all my friends, and I might have announced it at an improv show. The only people who showed up were people from the internet. It was an ok meeting, although the Dean rep who showed up to talk to us was pushy about getting money from everyone.
At around 9 people started showing up for the kegger. My room mates had spread the word about the keg, but not necessarily about Dean. Instead of going with the flow, I was still in obnoxiously earnest mode and kept forcing an email list on people. One white kid with an afro looked at me sideways, his hands occupied with a donut and a beer, and told me he wasn't interested on being on the email list because he was voting for someone else. Why do I never bitch out the people I should? At a later party, this kid would steal a bottle of liquor someone had hidden in the stove and almost get his ass kicked. I imagine that kid's life is just a series of almost ass-beatings.
So I considered the party a partial bust. Me and my boyfriend at the time signed up online to volunteer at the Dean Columbus office, and that same night got a call from the state coordinator that they needed people at the office to make it look busy for a news report. The local news wanted the local angle to the big Iowa push. So we went to the office and fooled around on the computers for a little bit while the camera guy got closeups of our best 'serious collaboration' faces. I got asked to explain why college students were so interested in Dean. Despite my recent experiences to the contrary, I gave an earnest soundbite about college students being excited about a new kind of politician! Yes, after the camera switched off I did feel deeply ashamed. My soundbite made it into the news report. And I found out all the secretaries at the overwhelmingly republican law firm I worked for watched the evening news. (That's how hardcore this law firm was- even the office staff was republican.)
I felt conflicted about being in the news report. On the one hand, I felt like a fake. On the other hand, I LOVE being on tv. I've always thought I should be a spokeswoman. And I liked that none of the Students for Dean got to be on the news.
The reporter had asked me if I was excited about going to Iowa, which I had not planned on doing, but put on the spot I said, "Yes, so excited!" So that meant we were now planning an Iowa trip that weekend. All of these busses were leaving from all over Ohio, but we were told that me and my ex couldn't be on the same bus and wouldn't be going to the same part of Iowa. When I got my period that was the final straw- I'm not taking any bus trip while on the rag unless there's a holiday involved.
I worked maybe 20 hours that week at the Dean office. I worked with a kid who wanted to be some kind of staffer as a career, and who wore a tie every day that week. When we were given the task of drafting some flier saying how much better Dean was than Kerry, he wouldn't put any of my suggestions in, because he thought they were misleading. Well, yeah, saying one politician is better than another one is misleading. Duh. But campaign materials are SUPPOSED to be biased. I wasn't making up numbers or accusing anyone of incest, so I stand by my contributions. The upside to that kid is that he made me really grateful for the wiccan herbalist hippies of the Comparative Studies department, where no one has any ambitions of being a 'policy-maker.'
Then Iowa happened. The scream happened. The monday following I showed up to the office at 9 and the doors were locked. So I went into work at the republican law firm early, the secretaries gloated, and I kept myself busy reading injury descriptions in the worker's comp files.
NEXT UP: ATTENTION K-MART SHOPPERS! I'M OUTSIDE YOUR STORE BOTHERING PEOPLE!...