March 30, 2015

AAA-Fund Fellow at Nate Shinagawa’s Campaign: Week 2: We’re All Just People

Editor’s Note: The below is Maya Ono’s 2nd post about her 2nd week as an AAA-Fund sponsored fellow at Nate Shinagawa’s campaign. Be sure to read her 1st post “AAA-Fund Fellow at Nate Shinagawa’s Campaign” also. The AAA-Fund has endorsed Nate as a candidate for the US House of Representatives from NY’s 23rd district.”

Nata Shinagawa campaign office

“I’m in the middle of something, and frankly I have no time to speak with you!” he barked before slamming the phone. I considered the gesture a “happy one-week anniversary!” salutation. As a finance fellow for congressional candidate Nate Shinagawa, part of my job is to call organizations and ask them to support our campaign. The fact is that we’re being outspent by our Tea Party opponent, incumbent Tom Reed. The response thus far had been supportive, which speaks to the strength of our message about supporting the middle class and women.

But holding the dead phone in my hand, I felt as though I had jumped into the deep end of an icy swimming pool. After the initial shock wore off, I pushed my way to the surface of reason, took a deep breath, and thought back to all of the times I’ve received political phone calls during inconvenient moments. Maybe, I admitted, I had even hung up on some of them.

Every four years, families around dinner tables dread the nightly campaign phone calls, especially in the months leading up to the election. We are berated by the latest polls, the predictions, and the sound bites all day so it’s understandable why someone would get frustrated.

But all of this talk of “politics” as if it’s some illusive force that barges through our doors like an unwanted houseguest, takes away from the fact that politics was created by and is perpetuated by people. Working for the campaign humanizes politics. You can come in at any time of day and see volunteers dedicating their free time to making calls or mailing literature because they believe in Nate. Every once in a while, a deflated sigh floats into the air and hangs over the office. But the hum of laptops, the buzz of racing fingers on keyboards, and the excited chatter of support evaporates disappointment and the work begins again.

It’s hard to remember in the heat of value-driven emotion that the person on the other end of the phone line is a daughter, a wife, a mother, a girlfriend fighting for what she believes in. We don’t all have to hold the same values (in fact, it’s better that we don’t) but I have to believe that there can be unity in diversity. If Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly can be friends, we can listen to a phone call from a volunteer. In the end, we’re all just people.

If you’d like to donate to Nate Shinagawa’s campaign, you can go to or send in a check to P.O. Box 7232 Ithaca, NY 14851.

– Maya Ono

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