Monday, September 29, 2008
The best place to really get involved in the political process and change the world as we know it is “The Denver Dems”, as we dedicated Democrats call it. I could also say your local Republican Party office, but I won’t :-)
You can go there in person by visiting 789 Sherman Street, Suite #145, Denver, Colorado 80203. But save that $4 a gallon gas and visit them virtually at http://denverdemocrats.net/home, or give them a call at 303-830-8242, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can sign up at the website to receive regular emails about what’s going on, and identify fun and meaningful events that you might want to attend.
And if you want to do something right now, in the next few weeks, to change the world, go right to www.barackobama.com and find out how you can get involved NOW. Then you will be able to say that you did something tangible, in addition to casting your own vote, to elect the next President of the United States!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I apologize for being incommunicado lately. I have been out of town a lot the last couple weeks, and am putting all of my energies through Nov. 4th into serving as an Obama Neighborhood Team Leader and doing everything I can do to elect Barack Obama and change the direction of our country.
I am so proud of how he handled the debate last night. He is truly committed to being the change he and many of us want to see in the world, and changing the nature of politics. He refused to lower himself to the level of McCain's negative and inaccurate attacks, and remained ever the gentleman and the statesman. It seems the worst they can say about him is that he gave credit to McCain where credit was due, clearly demonstrating how he will always seek to find common ground across the aisle. All this even though McCain refused to even look at him, talk to him, or recognize his presence even while the moderator continued to encourage McCain to do so.
I will continue to blog as I am able. As Barack also often says, he wants us to believe not so much in his ability to create the change we seek, but in our own abilities to create the change we want to see in the world. So when I am not here, that's where I'll be--creating change. I hope you are making a similar commitment. Remember, we get exactly the government and the world we deserve.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Not the Huge Crowds, Not the Speeches, Not Even the Parties are What I Will Remember Most about the DNC
I have to say that being elected at the State Convention to represent my fellow Colorado Democrats at the DNC was the highest honor I have ever received. I am so grateful to have been able to participate in this historic and exciting event, particularly because it was in our home town! However, as exciting and gratifying participating in my first Democratic National Convention was, my most memorable moments were different than you might guess.
Over the last couple weeks, I have often been asked,
--What was the best part about being at the convention?
--What was most memorable?
--What moved you the most, or had the biggest impact on you?
Some of you may have been fortunate, as I was, to attend at least some part of the convention, or some of the related pubic or private events. Many of you probably watched a large part of the convention on TV. I’m sure you each would have your own answers to these questions. Here are my memories, and how I was tangibly and emotionally reminded why we do what we do, and why we must continue working hard to ensure that Barack Obama is elected as the next President of the United States.
Each day, from sun-up to the early-morning hours of the night, we had countless caucuses, other meetings, and late-night parties to choose from. At any given hour of the day, there were far more activities than any one person could possibly attend.
Certainly, being on the convention floor, with the rest of our delegation, in the first few rows, right next to the stage, was a terribly exciting place to be when the gavel went down at 3pm each day! It’s hard to beat a front-row seat to the most important and exciting event to come to Denver in a hundred years!
Maybe you would say one of the many speeches we heard or saw on TV was the highlight of the convention?
Certainly, Sen. Obama’s acceptance speech the last night would be considered by many as the highlight of the entire week. He never ceases to inspire us. Not just with his oratory, and he is the best statesman we have witnessed since JFK, but with his concrete proposals for change in every policy area important not just to Democrats, but to the American people—
--promptly and responsibly ending the ill-conceived war in Iraq,
--rebuilding our devastated economy that has thrown 600,000 Americans out of work in the last year, and tens of thousands out of their homes,
--saving our climate and our planet with concrete proposals that will drastically reduce GHGs and other pollutants, and that will create a new alternative energy industry and millions of new, high-paying jobs, many right here in Colorado!
--diverting hundreds of billions of dollars from the Iraq war into the other pillars of a strong and secure economy—affordable education and health care.
Maybe you thought President Clinton’s or Hillary’s speech, encouraging her supporters to work as hard for Sen. Obama as they did for her, and unifying our Party was the most important thing that needed to get done that week.
Some of you know that I was personally trained by VP Al Gore to present his slide show on global warming and the climate crisis. And maybe you especially appreciated, like I did, VP Gore’s reminder that our addiction to oil is not only destroying the climate, but wrecking our economy and making our world a more dangerous place by enriching countries that don’t like us very much and that are the breeding grounds for future terrorists.
Or maybe you most enjoyed hearing the stories of the everyday people that spoke at the convention, like Republican Barney Smith from rural Indiana, that are losing their jobs and struggling mightily just to survive in an economy that continues to take from the middle class while enriching those at the very top of the economic ladder? I’m sure you’d also like a government that watches out for Barney Smith, not Smith Barney.
And sure, after the convention adjourned around 9pm each night, there were the parties, where we could meet with members of the other state delegations, and if we were lucky, meet or at least lay eyes on, some of the most well-known leaders of our Party and our Government, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
As fun and exciting as all these things were, it may surprise you, because it surprised me, that none of these memories are the ones I would cite as the most moving. What moved me most, what had the single biggest impact on me, was my experience on the third day of the convention--“Delegate Service Day”--a day that all delegations were encouraged to participate in an organized community service project.
When Delegate Service Day was first announced, weeks before the convention, I immediately signed-up. There were several different activities we could choose from, and my chosen assignment was to prepare and serve a meal for the homeless.
So, right after our Wednesday breakfast meeting, a half-dozen or so of us from the Colorado delegation walked down to the Denver Rescue Mission. We were first led on a tour of this homeless shelter by the Director and one of longer-term residents whom I’ll call Brian.
The most telling thing that I saw was the huge dormitory room. The room had a sea of bunk beds. It was pointed out to us that we could see a couple dozen of these beds had personal, differently-colored linen on them. Each of these beds represented a resident holding a job, but still not earning enough to survive in this desperate economy. What was most illuminating is that many of the people relying on this homeless shelter are the head of a family. Or like Brian, were once the head of a family.
Brian was not here because of anything to do with alcohol or drug abuse, but is simply a victim of this disastrous economy. He had a well-paying job, and a family. But like so many Americans, he was enticed by the easy credit offered by inadequately-regulated banks, mortgage companies, and government-owned corporations that back them up. He and many others across the country, were encouraged, and in too many cases misled, to borrow beyond his means, and before he knew it, he was bankrupt, lost his family, and found himself homeless.
I have to tell you I shed more than a couple tears just looking at this ocean of bunks, and thinking of the similar heartbreaking stories each of the 200 people that would be occupying these bunks that night could tell us.
After our tour, we went about chopping, and cutting, and cooking lunch for the long line of homeless people waiting outside the door. My next assignment was handing each person, adult and child, their lunch tray as they humbly filed through the door. I looked each person in the eye as I enthusiastically welcomed them to lunch. And I saw in those eyes nothing but gratefulness and humility.
Why did this experience touch me so? Why do I say this was the most important and most meaningful event I will remember about being part of this convention? Because it put the faces of real people on it. It reminded me why we are doing what we’re doing. Why politics and the policies candidates promote are so important. Why we get involved in politics to begin with. Why it is so important that we redouble our efforts to help Barack Obama win this election.
The polls say this race is a dead heat. The candidates are virtually tied. If we want real change in this country, if we want to repair our economy so people like Brian and all the other people I greeted at the shelter that day, can find a decent job, and get off the streets and out of the overflowing homeless shelters across this country, we must elect Barack Obama.
This will not happen if we sit on the sidelines like too many people did 4 years ago. Each one of us must get out of our comfortable homes, and knock on doors, do phone banking, talk to people, get our people registered, get them to vote early, and all the other work it will take to get out the vote.
That’s what I’m doing as the Obama Neighborhood Team Leader for 14 precincts in House District 6. If you haven’t knocked on any doors or made any phone calls yet, I beg you to get out there NOW! We have only 19 days left to register voters. We have only about 3 weeks until mail-in-ballots are sent out and voting begins.
I want to leave you with one final thought. Democracy is NOT a spectator sport. Will you get out this weekend, fully participate in doing the hard work remaining to be done, and do your share to elect Barack Obama the next President of the United States?
I hope so. We can’t afford 4 more years.