Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Iowa Revives Faith in Politics

Politics has taken me to some rather strange places in my undergraduate youth, even back home in Virginia. I’ve averted armed robbery, I’ve debated white supremacists, I’ve marched through hell and high water since the summer of 2005, in Arlington, Richmond and several points in between.

Two years, eight jobs and 156 episodes of “The West Wing” on DVD later, I found myself on a Greyhound bus from Chicago bound for far.quieter surroundings. Indeed, my love of politics has taken me to some strange places, but nowhere stranger – or further from my comfort zone – than the idwest.

And so began my love affair with Iowa.

I fled Georgetown in early July this past summer in pursuit of Barack Obama. What I came across instead was a small college town in northeastern Iowa with an office, a staff and space for anyone else crazy enough to want to work more than sixty hours a week. Fortunately, I was exactly that crazy. I settled down in Decorah, Iowa, with a host family and a new boss – an ex-intern from Barack’s Senate office, also from Virginia.

Then began our operation – the ambitious young field organizer and his intrepid intern – Million Fikre and I. We spent countless hours each day on the road together, shaking hands and taking names. Million is certainly more social than I am, though I’ve been working on this shortcoming as of late. Our job was a social one, as we spent 90 percent of our day talking to voters, organizers, and community leaders. These voters, organizers, and community leaders were, of course, Iowans – something I am not.

I was somewhat nervous about all of this in the beginning, but it’s amazing what you can learn about yourself by talking to other people. It’s even more amazing what you can learn about other people by talking to them.

My first week on the job was quite an experience. Most memorably, Million and I partied like rock stars with some heartland hippies at a garden party on an organic farm just outside of town. I’m not sure what I enjoyed most – the Balkan-Jewish folk music or the Balkan-Jewish folk dancing – but I most certainly enjoyed the chance to unwind.

Before I left for Iowa, I’d honestly forgotten a lot of what drew me into politics when I was younger. The optimism with which I spoke about politics – and about people – carried me into college with a bleeding heart and an open mind. After two years of being trapped in classrooms and cubicles, I learned to live that optimism once again, out in the field.

All politics is personal. Of all that I left behind in Iowa in returning to Georgetown, I miss the conversations the most. In two months, I talked to countless individuals about politics, and about everything but. I’ve survived sleep deprivation, I’ve debated Chris Dodd supporters, I’ve marched through corn and soybeans in the fight for hearts and minds. I learned to live for these conversations, even when they were not about Obama. The fight is hard, and the hours are long; I worked without pay and with everlasting fatigue. Still, you learn to fight past the pain when the battle is worth fighting (and if you’re willing to resort to an intravenous espresso drip, or vicodin).

I’m not sure that campaigns make for the healthiest of lifestyles, but so long as you survive, you’re probably doing something right.

Justin Charity is a junior in the College.

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