REMINDER: Your Local Democratic Party Is Three Overworked Schmucks Desperately Seeking A Fourth.

When I hear about the Democrats, I think of Hillary and her ten thousand staffers.  She controls a massive, finely-tuned network, taking expensive polls and spinning the news media – and why would anyone listen to me?  They have Obama talking to them, Bernie Sanders, all these heavyweight decisions made from the top.

I’m a random schmuck from Rocky River, Ohio.  What difference could my voice make?

Then I talked to Melissa Yasinow, a city councilwoman in Cleveland Heights.

“I’m not sure that Rocky River has any representatives on the Cuyahoga Country Democratic Committee,” she told me. “I’ll have to look that up.”

“Wait,” I said. “You’re saying that literally nobody in all of Rocky River has volunteered to be on the council?”

“I’m saying it’s possible.  That sort of thing happens all the time.  Everyone assumes that someone else is doing the work.”

“…You’re kidding.”

“No,” she said earnestly.  “There were four council seats up for grabs in my district, and we had only six people running for them.  Across all parties.  And that’s not the people who got winnowed out in the primaries – that’s six people total who wanted to run.  And we’re a competitive district; I know at least one place in Cleveland that had four seats for city council, and only three people ran.  Heck, you could run and probably win.”

“I dunno about that,” I said, thinking of all my essays on kinky sex.  “I’ve got a lot of skeletons in my closet…”

“Look, if Trump just won, you’ve got a shot.  All the old rules are out the window.  And besides, as I said… nobody else is stepping up.  Do you know how I got to be a councilwoman?”

“No.”

“I went to a Democratic women’s caucus, and they said, ‘We have a seat open.  You should run.’  It’s kind of embarrassing, how simple that start was, but that’s really all it takes a lot of the time.  And even if you don’t want to be a politician, there’s plenty of empty seats waiting around for someone to have their say.”

I frowned. “It’s just hard to believe that all of this influence is available for the taking…”

“Look,” she said.  “You’re worried about making sure the Democratic party is staying in touch with working class concerns.  Well, Rocky River’s not exactly a Democratic stronghold, and if you look at the West Side it’s filled with Hispanic residents who are factory workers.  You can start making a difference for what you believe in right away.  And if you wanted to fight for LGTBQ rights, or better health care, or to change the economy, well, there’s seats to do all of that in local ways.  Just… show up.”

“It can’t be that simple.”

“It is.  All over America.  Everyone assumes someone else is doing the work, and the truth is every political department is understaffed.  I won’t tell you it’s not insanely boring sometimes.  And it eats up a couple of hours of your week.  But if you want to make a change, it’s as easy as calling your local city council and saying, ‘I want to help.’

“Trust me,” she said.  “They’ll find a spot for you.”

She’s talking to some people now to see what empty seats are waiting for my wife and I to fill them.

But Melissa’s fundamentally changed my view of politics.  What I see on CNN is people waging multimillion-dollar campaigns for the national seats.  Yet each state has 500 towns, and each town has at least ten positions someone needs to fill, and what nobody’s discussing is how a lot of those positions are empty because they’re assuming everything is as hotly-contested as the 2016 election.

You may be disappointed by the DNC’s actions in 2016.  I was.  You might be disappointed at the opportunities the DNC missed in 2016; I was.

But what Melissa is telling me is that the DNC is composed of a bunch of tiny chairs, each with its own opportunity to influence the party in some way, and we’re not taking that influence for ourselves because we assume it’s already taken.

It’s not.

Call.  Volunteer.

Take that seat.

(And yes, civic-minded Republicans, this goes for you too.  I believe that government functions best when all sides step up.  But holy God, Democrats, we need you more than ever today.)

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Billy Higgins Peery
    Nov 21, 2016

    Comment

  2. Billy Higgins Peery
    Nov 21, 2016

    Yeah, I worked on the coordinated campaign for this election, and it drove home the importance of *civics* and *actually being a piece of your government*. I mean it’s a little different for me because I live in a retiree town so a lot of people have the time to be involved, but even they find a way to keep me busy haha. (Sorry for the double post, my day’s been one big technical error.)

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