Nearly 14 years ago, Adam Hoyer was a field organizer on a stage in Iowa introducing Barack Obama to a crowd that would eventually send the then-Senator to the White House. Last week during a webinar marking the 11th anniversary of the landmark Affordable Care Act, Obama spoke then introduced Hoyer with this glowing assessment.
“When I first met Adam, he was running around Davenport on my behalf gathering a bunch of potential caucus goers for this young candidate for president. He was part of that crew of incredible young organizers who helped me win Iowa and got me over the top,” Obama said of the Jesuit Tampa grad who eventually went on to direct campaign efforts across the country before working in the Obama administration and Department of Commerce.
“If it hadn't been for folks like Adam, I wouldn’t have been in the White House in the first place to be able to get the Affordable Care Act passed,” Obama said before going on to praise folks like Hoyer for continuing the fight to protect and strengthen health care for millions of Americans.
In a Twitter post, Hoyer—who’s currently the National Organizing Director at Protect Our Care—said he wished his own dad, who died in 2019 after a heart attack, could’ve seen the intro. In an email to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Hoyer said his dad and Obama are his two heroes in life.
Nearly 14 years ago, I introduced then-Senator Barack Obama at a rally in Davenport, Iowa. Today, President Obama introduced me at an event commemorating the Affordable Care Act.— H🦃YER (@AdamHoyer) March 22, 2021
Man, I really wish dad could have seen this.#ThanksObama pic.twitter.com/1SVx9gMGZJ
“Dad believed in fighting for the working man, and he is the reason I got into this work in the first place,” Hoyer, who was diagnosed with cancer himself in 2016, wrote, adding that his introverted nature makes him unsuited to work in politics, which he knew nothing about before signing up to work in Iowa and in the administration. “I felt like I was doing work that my dad thought was worthwhile, trying to improve the lives of hardworking people who deserved better. After dad died, I felt even more emboldened to do the work that I thought he would want me to do.”
Hoyer said hearing ordinary folks’ stories on the campaign trail is what keeps him working to improve healthcare. Obama was always asking about other people, and not talking about himself, on the trail. That work for what Hoyer calls “a once-in-a-generation” candidate is what keeps him clocking in every day—and it’s what broke him out of a worldview that was shamefully narrow.
“Before I met Obama, I was self-centered and cocky, and embarrassingly unaware of the struggles that so many people deal with on a regular basis. The campaigns in 2007, 2008, and 2012, and the voters they introduced me to, instilled in me a perspective that was totally different from the one I had as a fresh-out-of-college 22-year-old,” Hoyer said.
The improbable win in Iowa also made him believe that big accomplishments are still possible, even in this political environment. Hoyer even tattooed “01.03.08” on one arm (opposite the “Hope” tattoo on the other) to remind him to dream big and disregard folks more focused on what can’t be done. Hoyer believes that people banding together around shared stories is what can tip the scales on a number of issues.
But using that energy, organizing and believing is what led to that Iowa win nearly 14 years ago. That energy upheld the ACA even when repeal-hungry Republicans controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House.
“There is so much injustice and unfair hardships that still exist in this country,” Hoyer surrendered, “but they are solvable if enough people are organized and mobilized. I never would have believed in any of that if it weren’t for Obama.”
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