From the Floor: Meet Your Delegate
Chrisi West is a Virginia delegate to the Democratic National Convention who will be blogging for Virginia Politics from Denver. She is from Fairfax County's Alexandria neighborhood.
When I attended my first informal meeting of Alexandria Obama supporters back in March 2007, I figured it was my first foray into politics and I'd probably just end up handing out flyers on election day or something. No big deal.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
Since that meeting close to a year and a half ago, I've found myself working far out of my comfort zone, doing things I never would've considered doing under "normal" circumstances. And I never thought I'd find myself here, getting ready to go to the Democratic National Convention in Denver as a national delegate.
I wasn't even sure what a national delegate did! And I was certain that you had to be someone important to actually become one. Running for a chance to go to Denver didn't even occur to me until another friend and Obama supporter talked me into it while watching the primary returns from Texas and Ohio. I think my response was, "Sure, why not?"
The idea to get involved in the campaign came from watching "The Speech", and then reading his books later on to find out more about him. His stance on the Iraq war piqued my interest, but it was his newly announced platform on domestic violence that got me hooked! An issue close to my heart, I couldn't not work for him and let this chance slip away.
I jumped into a world of signature gathering, event planning, travel coordinating, and phone banking that I had never experienced before, and when I felt that I might have gotten in over my head, there was always another supporter there to lend a hand. The idea to go canvassing myself in another state (something I surely would never have considered before since I tended to be pretty shy around strangers) didn't come up until only a couple of weeks before I actually went. My friend and fellow organizer Keith Lutman found an amazing price on flights to New Hampshire, how could I say no?
New Hampshire in January? Yeah, that sounds like a great idea.
But I loved it. Despite the long days (and several feet of snow), the idea that I could personally interact with a stranger and make a connection with them was something entirely new and unexpected. A pleasant surprise on a cold, windy weekend in the Great Northeast.
After that, no one could keep me from canvassing in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia (of course) and North Carolina (twice)! I felt that I was actually making a difference toward something I believe in. Even now, seventeen months later, I still get excited to go canvassing every weekend, talking to potential voters and getting new people involved in the process.
And just when I think that I can't possibly answer one more email, make one more phone call, or knock on one more door I stop and reflect on this entire experience so far, and think that I must be the luckiest person in the world.
-- Chrisi West
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