I volunteered for my Alderman’s campaign office last night. A wrinkle of Chicago government is that political parties elect “Committeepersons” for each city ward, which is frequently the Alderman, but it’s a separate election. So I spent two hours calling strangers on my personal phone talking to them about a vote I hardly know anything about.
I was there not because I have strong feelings about the 40th ward Committeeperson race, but because my Alderman showed up at my door one night a few weeks ago to talk to me about it and then invited me to volunteer. I said yes, and his campaign called a couple weeks later. That’s it.
I could have just as plausibly been volunteering for his opponent. I first learned of the Committeeperson role and election from her, when she handed me a flyer at a neighborhood festival last fall. Honestly, if she had knocked on my door instead of my Alderman, I might have accepted her invitation to volunteer.
It feels like a mistake to restrict this kind of political engagement to the highly motivated and those deeply committed to a candidate’s ideology. I’m neither. My Alderman is also organizing phone banking for a Democratic Presidential candidate I’m not jazzed about, but that isn’t keeping me from accepting a personal invitation from him to help with something else he cares deeply about, namely my neighborhood. I also can’t really say yet why a resident of my ward ought to vote for the Alderman instead of the lady with the flyers. I suspect I’ll learn more about that from inside one of the campaigns than from outside.
Politics and government are probably best learned by doing.
One thought on “I’m A Political Operative”
You will learn about your Ward by volunteering. Keep your ears open when at the aldermanic office. Just be careful you don’t say yes to every request for help or you will end up doing a lot of stuff! I did that years and years ago when I was young and living in Lake View and ended up being I forget what my title was, but was in charge of other volunteers going door to door for the aldermanic election. I and other whatever we were called had meetings with the alderman a couple times a week. It was eye opening but I was single, and young, and my regular job took only about 40 to 50 hours of my time. Since it was a long long time ago when I was young I learned about how things were run in Chicago and it was not all above board.