Not many are able to say they worked on President Barack Obama’s campaign or published a book about it. But Alan Kennedy-Shaffer J.D. ’09 managed to do both, all the while being a College of William and Mary law student on the side.
Sunday, Kennedy-Shaffer came to Earl Gregg Swem Library to field questions about his book, “The Obama Revolution.”
Kennedy-Shaffer’s book, the first to be written by a campaign worker for Obama, focuses on his first-hand experience and uses scholarly analysis to examine the campaign.
Kennedy-Shaffer began Sunday’s discussion by referencing Obama’s speech from the 2004 Democratic Convention, which occurred before he was on the political radar. Kennedy-Shaffer said Obama had one powerful quote that explained the whole point of his campaign.
“Even as we speak, there are those who are prepared to divide us,” Obama said in the speech. “Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?”
Kennedy-Shaffer said strong rhetoric like this guided Obama’s campaign and contributed significantly to the public persona that has made Obama not only a politician, but also a celebrity.
During his talk, Kennedy-Shaffer went through his own personal story of involvement. It began with writing political articles for a student-run newspaper in Harrisonburg, Pa. called Scoop 08. This spiked his interest in the Obama campaign and encouraged him to take a more active role. “I had a day job of a legal intern, and a night job of going door to door registering voters,” Kennedy-Shaffer said.
He was then hired to come down to Virginia to campaign in 11 Virginia counties, including the Gloucester and Middlesex regions.
One personal story involved acting as a spy to take notes on a Republican convention.
He referred to the lavish atmosphere of the Republican National Convention as a “smoke-filled back room [with] about 100 people, but with enough food for 500.”
“I felt the Republican Party in these areas had lost their way,” he said.
Kennedy-Shaffer pointed out the changes on which Obama has started, like health care reform, his good relations with the press and his improved international relations.
“I think we are seeing progress, but not to the extent I would like,” he said.
He also said he believed the press was being unfair in judging Obama because change takes time.
The last thing Kennedy-Shaffer touched on was the Republican Party.
“I think that the Republicans’ opposition to every Obama policy is a gamble,” he said.
With the Obama campaign, a lot of change was seen. Groups that tend to have low voting rates flooded the polls, expressing their voices for the first time. Obama gave people hope, and his words promised a better tomorrow.
“Is the Obama Revolution truly a revolution, or something more temporary?” Kennedy-Shaffer said. That seems to be the question.