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August 04, 2008

Called to Action in a Time of Need

So many of us are on a mission to take this country back.  I see the action everywhere.  It is a somewhat bumpy path since we are flexing muscles we have not used in a while - these engaged citizen muscles.  There is a learning curve.  And, damn, but those Republicans are deceptive and seemingly willing to do just about anything to win.  So they manage to throw us off stride occasionally and this last week was such a time. 

But, nevertheless, incredible people are stepping up to run for office; people are taking on significant tasks as volunteers, doing critical research and writing about what this government has done; working very hard to elect more and better Democrats; contributing money; and more.  It's just truly an incredible "uprising" to borrow the name of David Sirota's very good book of the same name

Many, many people are leaving other careers or adding onto other careers to take on significant public service or citizen responsibilities.  It starts with many of our new Democratic candidates but includes so many of us as well.  Remember how many people took the time to attend the caucuses, many for the first time?  Some of them have gone on to volunteer for Obama or other Democratic candidates.  Some have contributed money.  Many have become precinct committee officers (PCO's) in their legislative districts (LDs).  Those who were already relatively active have added more - perhaps holding events or volunteering consistently.  Those already involved have stepped into hugely enlarged roles in the local Democratic organizations or campaigns.  It might be recruiting PCO's or training folks on using VoteBuilder or running the LD caucus or serving as LD Chair, a job that has become quite large of late.  It might be running for the legislature as Phyllis Huster in the 5th LD is doing or Michael Powell in the 2nd LD, among others. 

Candidates Drawn to the Fray

Obama himself, although already moving quickly into the national limelight, took the further step of running for President.  Darcy decided to run for Congress when it became clear that we needed a new crop of Democrats to shift the country's direction.  Peter Goldmark took on the job of first running for the 5th CD last cycle, and then this year took on the race for State Land Commissioner, a job he seems very well suited to.  George Fearing stepped into the fray by running against the odious Doc Hastings in the 4th Congressional District.  All of these people had the resources and skills to step into a very public role although they hadn't spend years working their way up from City Council positions.   They simply were called to help in a time of need.

Citizens Stepping Up

But so many other folks have assessed their resources and skills and stepped into the ring in different ways.  Others have jumped in when they may not have wished to but something needed to be done.  These are just a few friends who have taken on large tasks in the last few years:

1)  Bill Montgomery, a retired executive, has always been involved in his Dartmouth Alumni Association and maintains close social relationships with many Dartmouth alumni.  Now, deep into his retirement, Bill has taken on the fight to prevent a group of right-wing alumni (remember when a group of Dartmouth conservative students led the anti "political correctness" battle?) from taking over the Dartmouth Alumni organization with financial help from a conservative organization that attempts to impact higher education.  Bill is part of a group, called Dartmouth Undying, which has worked successfully to organize the normally non-political alumni to get more involved to counter a conservative slate of Alumni Board members trying to force the Dartmouth Administration to tack right.  On June 10th, the slate backed by Dartmouth Undying won all 11 seats and saw a lawsuit against Dartmouth dismissed shortly thereafter.

2)  Dan Seligman, a Seattle natural resources attorney, has created a website to monitor the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).  Dan has been paying attention to  the BPA for years, unearthing questionable expenditures of public funds, drawing attention to policies that would raise ratepayer's electricity bills and, recently, requesting information on who gets free rides on BPA planes.  The new site, BPA Watch, was developed to inform the public, press and Congress about BPA, and to precipitate a broader debate about regional energy issues.

3)  Carol Friends, on the Board of the 41st Legislative District, retired late last year to be able to spend more time organizing newly involved LD members and PCO's.  They are now calling fellow Democrats to get them more involved, holding potluck dinners to talk about issues, and working on campaigns.  The 41st put together an election plan for their distict. It includes Voter ID, Get Out the Vote and precinct canvassing. Carol is also is coordinating with the state party for voter ID. This level of cooperation between Legislative Districts and the state party is unusual.

4)  Mark Hintz, Chair of the Snohomish Democratic Party, Luis Moscoso, all-around Democratic activist, Dave Somers, Snohomish County Council member, and a group of equally dedicated Snohomish residents, presented a proposal for a Human Rights Ordinance to the Snohomish County Council to deal with a string of human rights abuses in Snohomish County.  There have been a series of incidents around the county that uncovered anti-Immigration, anti-Native American, anti-African American and anti-Gay, Lesbian and Transgender sentiment in Snohomish County.  The HRC Ordinance would both put more teeth into prosecution and provide resources to educate citizens and prevent such incidents.

I could write about another dozen people I know personally who are allotting huge amounts of their time to help this country change direction.  Foremost amongst them, the many excellent blog writers we have in this region.  So could you and I welcome your additions.  We do live in interesting times and this call to action that so many of us feel is a welcome response. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 4, 2008 at 09:13 AM in National and International Politics, Taking Action | Permalink

Comments

Hey – Just wanted to let you know that Election Protection’s hotline 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) went live August 12 and will be available now through Election Day with live help from trained volunteers for anyone with questions about their registration status and voting. It looks like volunteers are available 9-5pm EST to start.

The NY Times did a whole editorial about what the Election Protection coalition is doing. (Makes me think folks should program 1-866-OUR-VOTE into their phones.) Anyhow, here’s an excerpt from the Times piece:

“Groups that are committed to the right to vote have begun to fight back. Election Protection did invaluable work in 2004. It was a powerful advocate for voters when it counted the most — while the polls were still open.

“This year, Election Protection is already working with election officials trying to eliminate obstacles to voting. In November, it plans to have 10,000 lawyers, law students and other volunteers working around the country to help voters whose names are not on the rolls when they should be, to get polls to stay open late when there are long lines and generally to see that everyone gets to cast a ballot who is entitled to.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/09/opinion/09sat1.html

It looks like a great resource.

Posted by: Megan | Aug 14, 2008 12:05:48 PM

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