Profiles of change - Page 2

Inauguration Issue: President Obama's call for citizen action is already resonating
|
()

Gomes has also signed up to work on Kamala Harris' run for attorney general and she's still active with her fellow workers at Silicon Valley for Obama.

"About a week after the election I went to a meeting for our field office. Five hundred people were there. We brainstormed how to stay involved in his campaign," she said. They ranked issues they'd like to see addressed by Obama and organized themselves into teams to work on messaging them to the new administration. "We received a survey from the national team.... The [Silicon Valley] team took the national survey and made it local, community by community. That's the kind of movement that's happening now. I'm sure it's going on everywhere because the campaign wanted every state and every county involved." Her husband is now on the tech team and she's doing fundraising work for the inauguration.

"It's not over. Nothing has stopped," she said, adding that she believed this kind of organizing would be very present in the administration. "It's going to be governed by the people. I plan to be involved for the next four years at whatever level I can. I still write e-mails to whoever I think can change something. I hope it will be transparent enough that we can still communicate to people higher up in the administration — all the way to Barack and Michelle Obama."

----------

179-aaron.web.jpg

AARON KNAPP

Aaron Knapp graduated from law school in 2002 and spent the subsequent six years working for big corporate law firms. By 2008, he began to feel that all of the major decisions in his life had been made based on money and materialism, an certain emptiness that changed suddenly at summer's end.

"Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention was a real turning point for me," he recalled. "The change that I needed in my life was to join in this campaign that transcended the individuals."

He said he did what he always wanted to do: "I quit a job I don't enjoy." Knapp went to work instead on the Obama campaign, spending about four months in Nevada. Putting Obama in office became too important to not give it his all: "I just wanted to make sure on November 4, I could say to myself I did everything I could."

On election night, with the feeling of victory rushing through him, there was also a kind of malaise, a feeling of "now what?"

"Our roles in the campaign were predetermined — there are a finite amount of things you do in a campaign. Make phone calls, gather data, knock on doors.... After the election, after we won.... What do we do now? Those predetermined roles are no longer set up for us," he said.

Knapp said it required some soul searching to find the next important thing to do: "The task is to get real specific."

He's now writing a book and working to get the Employee Free Choice Act passed by Congress. The act would amend existing labor laws to make it easier for workers to create unions that are recognized by employers. In 2007, it passed in the House and failed in the Senate, but it was part of Obama's platform during the primary season, and one of the reasons he garnered support from organized labor.

But, said Knapp, "It's one of those things that's being put on the back burner as we transition in this administration.... While Obama was championing this cause during the campaign, there's no sign of it now."

The waning of enthusiasm for it is indicative of how Obama's administration may start to handle some of those crucial campaign promises that drew so many people into his fold.