Day 1 of my summer internship. May 22nd, 2017. (Can I backdate this blog? Lol) A group of interns from Washtenaw County met up at the Cube to carpool to Detroit for the Intern Orientation. Most of the faces I saw were new, with the exception being a guy that I had met on a trip down to Georgia in April to help out on Jon Ossoff’s campaign. I was excited to see him and ended up riding in his car. The trip to Detroit was filled with conversations (well, by others, as my shy nature kept me pretty quiet) and we arrived without much trouble to the Michigan Building. We went in and had to sign in to the building (which was interesting), and then we rode the elevator up to the floor that the campaign offices were on. Some nice signs taped onto the columns in the building directed us to where orientation was. I grabbed a packet of papers that were given to every intern and found a seat. After a little while, all the interns arrived and then we began. The first thing that we did was a quick icebreaker and I was amazed at the distance interns had come for a campaign, especially so early in the cycle. We had people from as far Traverse City, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing. I was impressed and excited for what this meant for the campaign. The staff began to introduce themselves with an interesting tidbit being that most of them worked on Senator Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and they had come to work on this one. After some brief training on canvassing, signing of some forms, it was time for a speech by the candidate himself.
I realize I made it this far without really describing the candidate, and why I’m doing this internship on the campaign. Back in March, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed came to the University of Michigan to have a conversation with students and community members about his freshly launched bid for governor of Michigan. I went to this meeting in the Ford School, interested to hear from a new candidate, but already pretty impressed with Gretchen Whitmer and leaning in her direction. Dr. El-Sayed spoke well, and his bio nearly knocked me out of my socks. He graduated from UMich and gave a commencement speech alongside President Bill Clinton, went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, obtained his M.D. from Columbia University, received a professorship, and then became the head of the Department of Health in Detroit, rebuilding a shuttered department into one that was doing great work. He also managed to play lacrosse during his collegiate career. Oh, and did I also mention that he is only 32 years old? Listening to Abdul speak, I was impressed and saw potential in him, but I still leaned towards Gretchen Whitmer. A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to hear from Abdul again, this time at the Michigan Federation of College Democrats Spring Conference and once again, Abdul’s charm, wit, and bright promise had shown through, and this time I no longer knew who I would support in the gubernatorial election, but over the next few weeks I would settle on Abdul. A few weeks after that, an opportunity arose to intern for his campaign, and I jumped on it right away. I saw great potential in Dr. El-Sayed, and wanted more people to know about him and to support his run for governor. His speech at the Intern Orientation filled me with the same hope that the other speeches had done and I knew I made the right decision.
We took a brief break during the training, and we went to check out the parking garage, but it wasn’t just any old parking garage. This garage was built in the ruins of the old Michigan Theater, which still had some decadence to it, but was mostly in tatters. It was a reminder of the Detroit of the past, as well as the Michigan of the past. Once the city and the state that drove America, now just a shell of what it used to be. Abdul had done great work in helping the people of Detroit in his time as head of the Department of Health, and he has great ideas to bring to the people of the Michigan to revitalize this great state. I will knock a bunch of doors and do my part in raising awareness of Abdul’s campaign and collecting signatures to get him on the ballot. I will work as a part of a team to achieve this goal, and I can’t be prouder of the team that I’ve joined.