Grateful for Gary: Sarah's Lessons From the Campaign Trail

Sarah Margulis As some of you know, I spent four months volunteering as a member of Gary Johnson’s social media staff, known as TeamGov. For the first three months, I spent about ten hours a week working. As Election Day got closer, my commitment varied between fifteen and twenty hours a week. Several of my peers shared their interest in taking up a similar position in the future. By sharing my story, I hope they and students who haven’t previously considered getting involved in a campaign will feel inspired to put their talents to work. Giving people something to believe in was the best part of working on the campaign. My heart felt so full when a senior citizen told me that he hasn’t been motivated to vote since Reagan but that our conversation gave him hope in a candidate again. Sharing your passion is what will bring you joy. It doesn’t have to be the super cool constitutional principles of small government like mine (although I’d highly recommend it.) You know how when someone is talking about something or someone they love, they form the most genuine smile? Anyone can be that person. That smile is easily achievable. That said, speaking out comes with inevitable backlash. I received countless unsolicited comments on my job. Telling someone you’re a babysitter doesn’t typically rebuttal with, “I hate children,” but all’s fair in love and war. When I told others that I was putting my efforts into the Johnson campaign, many of them mistook my sharing this snippet about myself as actively politicking. I still haven’t quite gotten used to this. The hostility I received came from both intolerance and a fundamental misunderstanding of the Johnson campaign’s goals. We weren’t coercing voters into choosing him; we were rallying information about our candidate so that voters knew all of their options and could make an informed decision with the hope that the people would choose him. Taking a political position in polarizing times like these continues to affect my relationships. My advice isn’t to surround yourself with people who agree with you but to be in the company of those who respect your viewpoints. I want to acknowledge that my experiences, some more than others, are molded by working on an underdog campaign. I doubt I would’ve been able to meet my candidate if he or she were a major party nominee. Maybe I wouldn’t have frantically texted my mom when he or she got an endorsement from The Chicago Tribune. This campaign was about long-term goals, not immediate gratification. But that was the beauty in working for Gary Johnson. I knew that I cast ripples in a climate that’s unwilling to move. And when I met Governor Johnson, my belief in him translated to his belief in me. He said, “Thank you for all that you’ve done. Maybe in a few years you’ll be doing what I’m doing.”]]>