Campaign for Change

Aug 2 09

Campaign for Change

Paul Weinstein

A little over a year ago I packed up my car
with a weeks worth of clothing, left my home in Chicago for
the unknown awaiting me in St. Paul, Minnesota. Two weeks previous I
had agreed to take on the position of State IT Director for Barack
Obama’s Presidential Campaign.

Campaign is most definitely the right
word. I have never been in the military, but given the stories I’ve
read and heard from strangers and friends I feel that even if I can’t
total relate, I understand parts of the experience: Life away
from home; 18 to 20 hour work days, seven days a week; extremely
limited resources; time, money, personnel and materials.

The job was something akin to working
as a Quartermaster for the Army; Optimizing limited technical
resources so that the campaign staff and volunteers could get to
work. In one quite surreal moment I was aghast in our Mankato office – a
town of 30,000 people some 90 miles southwest of St. Paul/Minneapolis
– shaking my head at a hulking old HP LaserJet 5 printer that the DFL
had procured. The machine was useless. Actually, less than useless
since it took up quite a bit of room in an office that had none – the
“office” being housed in a former beauty salon that had a total
of three salon stations turned into desks. The printer in question
had no internal printer server – the card no doubt having been
removed by the refurbisher who sold the unit, no standard parallel
cable – HP having used a non-standard PIN configuration for their
parallel ports and a power cord that would work just fine, for a 240
volt outlet commonly found in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

I’ve been asked if working on the
campaign was “fun.” Fun is not the word I would use to describe
it. By my third sleep deprived, highly stressed day on the job, I
felt like I had made a terrible mistake. I can say without at doubt
that I “worked more” in those months leading up to the election
than in any other period of time in my life. While the feeling of
misstep abated as I got a better handle on the job, fun still doesn’t
come to mind. The controlled chaos of Election Day, participating in
a Michelle Obama Rally, witnessing first hand Al Franken‘s Senate
, meeting new and interesting people and watching people’s
passions being unleashed would be, haunting, impressive, and
extraordinary. Memorable. Yes, memorable would be a better one word

Of course that, in part, is to be
expected. To try and take advantage of just that I wrote a bit while
working on the campaign. While my plan of writing at least once a
week ultimately didn’t pan out, I lacked time to decompress and
organize my thoughts collectively; I did get in a few moments of
thought clearing writing in:

Plus the usual photos and videos which
can be found here on pdw.weinstein.org and elsewhere: