Name: Chris Burley
Campaign Role: State Digital Director, Obama for America – New Mexico
Hometown: Winfield, KS
Organizing in: The Land of Enchantment – New Mexico
What do you do for the campaign?
I'm the State Digital Director for Obama for America in New Mexico. I have the incredible job of telling stories to inspire and engage the wonderful people of this state in the vital work of moving our country forward. I love stories—telling them and hearing them. When I'm not working on the campaign, I read comic books, take photographs, go to live shows, write short stories, and make videos. Most Septembers, I either return to my hometown for our annual bluegrass and folk music festival or go to Wichita, Kansas, to play a reunion show with my college ska/punk/metal band. This year, I'm skipping the campfires of the festival and the rowdiness of the reunion to re-elect the greatest President of my lifetime.
How did you first get involved with the campaign?
Barack Obama's Keynote Address at the 2004 DNC convention spoke to me as no political speech ever had. It spoke of a great country getting even better. It was aspirational and empowering. That's why I made sure I was in Denver in 2008 to see Barack Obama accept the Democratic nomination for President. That's why, as a volunteer, I walked the streets of Northern Virginia, knocking on doors to build support for his candidacy. That's why I used every opportunity to speak out for equal rights for women, Hispanics, LGBT Americans and everyone else the President has stood up for during his first term. That's why I stood toe-to-toe with anti-Obamacare protesters to tell the story of my friends and family who needed our country to move forward on the issue of health care reform. And that's why I woke up on New Year's day this year, knowing that working for this President, for this campaign, and for this vision, could well be the most important thing I ever do.
Which of the President’s accomplishments over the past three years stand out most to you? Have any affected you directly?
Healthcare reform is tremendously important to me. Having lost a mother to colon cancer, taken up collections for friends with ER bills, and seen families spiral into crisis for lack of access to needed care, I know firsthand what an essential step Obamacare is in ensuring life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for my friends, family and neighbors. The President's statement on LGBT equality is also very important to me. Growing up, my parents were friends with a gay couple. One partner was actually denied hospital visitation rights as the man he had loved for years was dying. I have too many LGBT friends to not stand up and speak out to ensure that no other couple should suffer the indignity of being treated as a second-class citizen.
What issues are most important to voters in New Mexico?The people I talk with are most concerned about making sure that everyone gets a fair shot. They understand that no one should be denied the opportunity to succeed just because of their gender, wealth, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
What would you say to people who are thinking about volunteering but don’t know if it will make a difference?
New Mexico was decided by just a few hundred votes in 2000. In 2010, a lot of people stayed home, and our communities suffered for it. In the Land of Enchantment, talking to just a handful of voters today could make all the difference in changing what this country will be like for future generations.