“I’m calling on some of you to drop by a local field office and hear what people have to say.”
Those who have seen me and the Dig crew eviscerate politicians and their spin physicians of all possible persuasions will probably laugh upon learning that I hatched on that side of the divide. As I rarely mention for no reason other than that it was more than 20 years ago—the last campaign I worked on had its primary on Sept 11, 2001, in New York City no less—once upon a time I volunteered and even got paid work fresh out of college as a street-level do-it-all for various local progressives. I collected signatures and stapled signs and in one case even passed off a bribe to a shifty clergyman who promised to deliver his entire congregation.
Even though I didn’t end up in that particular line of work, I’m certain my experience stuffing envelopes and knocking doors in Brooklyn and Manhattan taught me more in a few months about stuff I needed to understand as an adult than my five years of undergraduate studies combined—from developing a basic civic awareness to growing skeptical of state and municipal politics as a result of seeing up close how not just wealthy honchos but even McMillionaire contractors and ambulance chasers can steer large elected bodies by dropping a lousy couple grand in the collection plate.
But fret not—I’m actually not here to vent about officials. Not primarily, at least. Rather, with exciting city council and mayoral races building up momentum in Somerville, Boston, and other burgs throughout Mass, I’m calling on some of you to drop by a local field office and hear what people have to say. If a candidate’s ideas sound promising, then consider giving them a few hours of your time. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a low-paying short-term gig like no other—one that will leave a deep impression, pad the resume, and plug you into future players—see if they have any paid positions open.
Not that you have to want to take a bullet for the candidate in order to work for them, but you will probably want to pick someone you respect. Take it from a journalist who has covered hundreds of hopefuls—just like with any business, if the person whose name adorns the marquee is an enormous ass, then they are sure to crop dust every lackey in their wake.
Which brings me to a warning to accompany my encouragement, which extends to people of all types and ages, by the way. (Everybody knows that seniors run shit when it comes to politics and young people are super energized at the moment, which basically leaves it to everybody else to pick up the slack.) If you do hitch your caboose to a specific candidate, while it’s only natural to get attached to the cause, please avoid treating the race like a gang war—ruthlessly attacking opponents, smearing strangers who support the other side, etc.
Much like the useful stuff you’ll learn on a campaign and the stench of shitty politicians, your trail of jeers may linger on for decades.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.