I Get By

July 23, 2014 15:30 pm

by Chet Martin · 13 comments

Editor’s Note: Chet Martin not only is an intern for Peach Pundit, but he also volunteered his time for the Jack Kingston campaign. Charlie has written about how an election loss can be more difficult for those that volunteer their time than the candidate him or herself. Here’s the perspective from one of those volunteers.

The first time my father and I met Jack Kingston, he offered us a ride in the back of a pick-up. It was the Alpharetta Old Soldiers Day Parade, and we were parked far from the finish line. Jack had his truck circle around to offer us a place in the flatbed, in which we chatted about the pleasures of Athens, the charming illegality of riding in a truck’s bed and, inevitably, college football. When we hopped out, my dad sad “I guess I can cross ‘Ride in a pick-up with a sitting US Congressman’ off my bucket list.”

Over a year later, I sat dazed in a hotel ballroom, struggling to accept the fact that this man would not be my senator. For whatever reason–low turnout, unfortunate weather, the primacy of Atlanta in statewide politics–the numbers we’d been enthusiastically following had turned against us. We’d lost. My friends and I solemnly shook hands, entirely aware that the crucible that made us a team hadn’t forged a thing.

Except for us. Jack had a way of inspiring loyalty, from the volunteer-turned staffer who had taken out thousands of dollars in loans to devote herself fully to the campaign to the promising law students who neglected their studies and their careers for a cause. Dozens of high school and college students befriended their peers as they actively engaged in democracy for the first time. By some miracle, Jack even managed to endear his most objective supporters–his family–to the campaign.

We all had our moments. There was the 15-year-old intern who unloaded a generation’s worth of familial problems to his elected representative. There were the college students who dared to make a blue joke in front of a congressman. There was the staffers and their shared privations of another sub-par barbecue lunch and a long, contemplative drive home. There were thousands of supporters and voters who were inspired–literally, “to breath life into”–by this radically normal and honorable man.

I’ll admit the whole thing sounds a bit messianic, and it times became that way. When confronted with her son’s defeat, Jack’s beloved mother “Grand Am” shrugged her shoulders and quite sensibly replied “What are you gonna do?” The egoless concession speech gave all credit to the team and joyfully advocated unity with what had five minutes before been the enemy. Even the most fervent backers of Jack’s campaign would acknowledge that the policy differences between the two potential senators and the way they would likely vote on a given issue was minuscule.

Yet this extended fraternity of campaigners had been drawn together by a shared trust in a single man. After a brief bout with depression, most of us dragged ourselves to a nearby bar. We still believed in Jack Kingston. We had to grapple with the notion that a majority of our fellow party-members did not. Alcohol, dark humor, and premature autopsies made it a bit easier. But in the end, we came to grips just as a serendipitous song on the radio suggested–with a little help from our friends.

gcp July 23, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Yes, a “nice guy” but not a guy I want in Washington spending taxpayer money.

Anonymole July 23, 2014 at 5:01 pm

GCP,

Comments like that lose you votes. Let the fresh wounds heal, pat them on the back for their hard work and invite them to join you in your cause. The last thing in the world you want to do is turn young, energetic volunteers into apathetic non-voters.

Nothing good comes from being a sore winner, especially in politics.

James Fannin July 23, 2014 at 3:52 pm

@gcp The kid poured his heart out and good on him for caring so much. Can you just give it a rest for a day at least?

Chris Huttman July 23, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Great reminiscence. Unfortunately as a Democrat we go through something like this every 2 or 4 years in Georgia.

The Last Democrat in Georgia July 23, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Good comments, Mr. Martin.

You may have lost, but you can still be extremely proud that you played a very important role in the execution of our democracy.

Holden Caulfield July 23, 2014 at 6:20 pm

The wounds are fresh, but lets hope they heal quick. I’m still hurting from last night as well. My cell phone still has hundreds of numbers in the recent calls list from dialing for Jack. The sun still rose today, so we have that to be thankful for.

Let’s all hope it’s dawning on a Nunn defeat.

George Chidi July 23, 2014 at 9:09 pm

This is extraordinarily well-told. Fine writing.

Your team lost. You didn’t die. You will be better for it tomorrow. Trust me.

beenthere July 24, 2014 at 1:34 am

Trust G.C. He speaks the truth.

Will Durant July 23, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Could be worse. I spent a few months of my youth volunteering on Bo Callaway’s campaign for Governor. Believe me, either Nunn or Perdue beats the hell out of ending up with Lester Maddox.

Ellynn July 23, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I have cousins who spent their summers as congressional staffers and a good amount of their college years as volunteers for many Wisconsin canidates and sitting congressman. They worked for both Democrates and Republicans, and one even worked as a paid staffer for a presidental election. Everyone, whether their canidates won or lost, loved the time they devoted to the process. It shaped who they become, but more important, they insured the future of the democracy which sustains our republic. That gets lost in the fighting between parties, the jockying for influence, and the civil war of words and beliefs. Reguardless of who works for whom, or even the outcome, the Chets of the world are vital.

Carry on Mr. Martin. Even in defeat there is noblity.

saltycracker July 23, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Tip of the hat – nicely said from the heart….get back up on a fresh horse and continue on the trail….

Trey A. July 24, 2014 at 12:26 am

Great little piece of writing there… Nicely done.

Michael Silver July 24, 2014 at 7:18 am

I’ve learned more when I encountered defeat. When I was on the winning side, it meant more to me because I remembered the pain of defeat.

You got yourself off the couch, made a sacrifice for your nation, and stood up for something. That is very honorable. BRAVO to you!

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