These are Dems
A look inside local headquarters before the big election.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Kevin Naef traversed most of two continents to work 60-hour weeks on a political campaign in a country that is not his own. For free.
Naef, a 20-year-old student from Switzerland, funded his own trip to the United States upon reading about Barack Obama in a Swiss newspaper. He stays with a family in Monterey while devoting an average of 10 hours a day, six days a week as a volunteer at the Democratic headquarters in Monterey.
He is not concerned by the fact he cannot vote for the presidential candidate he so passionately supports.
“I love this country, and I hate to see what has happened to it in the past eight years,” Naef says. “It has been bad for the entire world.”
Other volunteers here match Naef’s enthusiasm– several have taken leave from their jobs to make a fulltime commitment to the campaign. Such is the case for Vinz Koller, chairman of the Democratic Party of Monterey County. Koller has temporally abandoned his job as a training consultant to oversee hundreds of people making more than 2,000 calls a day to area codes across the country.
“We are focusing on the swing states right now,” he says. “When all of our phones are occupied, volunteers use their cell phones.”
While energy runs high, other inventories are evaporating. Koller reports that the Monterey Headquarter is depleted of Obama signs, bumper stickers, and buttons. More immediately, there aren’t enough donuts to feed the masses of volunteers. But the gang sustains on patriotic momentum, spontaneously singing the National Anthem.
On Election Day, volunteers “poll watch,” ensuring that voting locations do not run out of ballots, are handicap accessible, or, as Koller recalls an example from the last presidential election, “Fox News isn’t on TV at voting locations.”
Meanwhile, the staff doesn’t seem able to ponder the possibility of a victory by Republican candidate John McCain– the response to “What if Obama doesn’t win?” is consistent.
“Obama will win,” comes the collective reply. “We will celebrate.”