Alan Kennedy-Shaffer is represented by the interviewer's Pump Up Your Book Promotion, a public relations agency specializing in online book promotion.
Alan Kennedy-Shaffer served as a regional field director for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in Virginia. Educated at Yale University and William & Mary Law School, Kennedy-Shaffer is the author of Denial and Deception: A Study of the Bush Administration’s Rhetorical Case for Invading Iraq. Kennedy-Shaffer’s writings have also appeared in The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, the Patriot-News, the Daily Press, and the Virginia Gazette. Alan lives in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
Thank you for this interview, Alan. Can we begin by having you tell everyone what your new book, The Obama Revolution, is all about?
The Obama Revolution is about the hopes and dreams of a generation of young people who came together to make Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States. The first book about Obama's presidential campaign by someone who worked on the campaign, The Obama Revolution provides an in-the-trenches look at what it was like to turn red states blue. Although much ink has been spilled about Obama's election, much less has been said about the late nights, the day-old coffee, the phone callers, and the canvassers who turned the campaign into a grassroots movement.
So many questions I’d like to ask, but let me start at the beginning. How did you get involved with the Obama campaign?
I got involved with the Obama campaign by attending rallies, listening to speeches, and hoping that I would have the opportunity to contribute to the most organized presidential campaign in American history. Listening to Obama's rhetoric in his 2004 DNC convention speech was like listening to a prophetic voice for unity and change. I volunteered to serve in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as an Obama Organizing Fellow, and was then hired to work for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in Virginia.
Have you always had a strong passion for politics?
Some of my earliest memories involve being pushed in a stroller by my mother and father at gay pride marches in New York City. My mother subsequently managed the Good Schools Coalition effort to improve my public school in Brooklyn, and successfully elected a majority of the school board. And my grandfather served as mayor of Black Mountain, North Carolina, in his retirement. So I guess public service runs in the family.
What was it like to meet Obama for the first time? Where were you and what were you doing?
I have shaken Barack Obama's hand on numerous occasions, including Washington, Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Harrisburg. But it was my first encounter with Obama, before his candidacy began, that is indelibly etched in my memory (and is included in The Obama Revolution):
“I first met Obama on May 18, 2005, in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Meeting Obama convinced me that he truly believed what he was telling the nation. He made me promise that I would do everything in my power to bring about positive change.”
Between you and me, tell us something about Obama that no one knows.
I love Barack Obama and everything that his presidential campaign stood for — which explains why I campaign so long and so hard on his behalf — but when the Virginia Democratic Party invited both Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama before the Virginia primary in 2008, Clinton had a firmer hand shake. Obama, however, gave a far more eloquent speech.
Describe the night Obama won the presidency. Where were you?
You can read about it on the first page of The Obama Revolution. I had been party hopping with congressional candidate Bill Day and ultimately ended up at Paul's Deli in Williamsburg. When Obama delivered his victory speech, I cried tears of joy. My buddies hugged me and congratulated me on our win in Virginia. I will never forget that night.
Do you have plans to enter politics in the near future?
Following in Barack Obama's footsteps would be an honor.
I can’t help but notice the Kennedy in your name. Are you related to THE Kennedys?
I'm not sure. Maybe someone with a keen interest in genealogical research will look that one up. If you find out, please let me know — I get that question all the time.
What are your plans now? Do you have any signings coming up?
I have been extremely pleased by the reception for The Obama Revolution. Reviews, so far, have been extremely favorable. I will be doing signings in Virginia in the next few weeks, including book signings at the William & Mary College Bookstore on April 4 and April 18. Anyone interested in signings should check out the events page on my website.
If you were President, what would be the first thing you’d change about the current conditions of the United States today?
President Barack Obama has pinpointed several of the key challenges facing the United States today: economy, education, environment. If I were president, I would attempt to create a "Green Deal" by turning the old industrial model into a new environmentally friendly model. We have so much potential to create new, environmentally friendly jobs — we are "Generation Change."
For war or against it?
Like Barack Obama, I have opposed the war in Iraq since its inception, on moral and strategic grounds. We need to move away from George W. Bush's misguided approach and move toward a foreign policy of diplomacy. My first book, Denial and Deception: A Study of the Bush Administration's Rhetorical Case for Invading Iraq, examines this issue at length.
Thank you so much for this interview, Alan. Good luck to you! Can you tell us where we can find out more about you and your new book?
More information about the book is available through Phoenix Books.