Go To Meetin'

Yesterday, we saw the latest iteration of the Occupy Movement, the spring initiative in taking it to the streets. I wish they would have brought flowers and danced more (it being May Day), but overall I applaud them. If they do it right, they will have an impact for positive change that we may live to see take effect in the years to come. In the meantime, the business of the people is being done on a daily basis, the old fashioned way. And I am challenging anybody complaining about politics or politicians. "Have you ever been to a meeting?"

Now, anybody who knows me can tell you that the prospect of attending an ordinary, everyday meeting of however many well-intentioned people to consider the public good appeals to me about as much as a stormy winter of crab fishing in the Bering Sea. Those same people will also tell you I don't like boats much. Or fish, for that matter.

I've attended my share of meetings in the past, and quietly exited most of them. Hempfest. The Theosophical Society (at least these folks don't argue). N.O.W. The Sturgeon Bay Whole Foods Co-op. My exit wasn't so quiet there. I didn't like making religion out of food and showed up at one meeting with Kentucky Fried Chicken. They didn't exactly run me out on a rail, but you get the idea. I was happy not to go back.

Meetings at the occasional workplace. Meetings at school. Nothing can make me wish for a sudden onset of illness like remembering that I'm supposed to go to a meeting.

And that includes meetings of my local 46th District Democrats. The Fightin' 46th. Which I attend, more regularly than ir-. I'm not a mover or shaker. I help set out the cookies. Sometimes I help pass the hat. And I vote. As a Precinct Committee Officer, it is my privilege to vote. To help decide who we will nominate and/or endorse to run for office from our district.

To do this, you have to listen to speeches. Short speeches, mostly. But speeches, nevertheless.

A recent Legislative Caucus of the Fightin' 46th was held in a high school gymnasium. (Not only do I have to attend meetings, I also have to return to scenes reminiscent of adolescent horror.) A big room with a basketball hoop and bleacher seats. For over 5 hours.

There were two main purposes: elect delegates to the Congressional District Caucuses and approve our District Platform. Now get this:

We had to elect 18 or 19 men and 18 or 19 women to fill these spots. Over 60 people altogether signed up to run. That meant that we had to listen to short (30-second) speeches from each one, most of whom were about as familiar to most of us as the people in the car next to you at a stop light.

And that was the fun part. Some of these guys could be a little entertaining in 30 seconds. Even interesting. Those were the ones who got my vote.

Somewhere during a debate over the wording of a plank in the platform, however, I could be heard to mutter, "Gee, I could just as well have stayed home banging my head against the wall."

Should we call for "tuition-free" community colleges, or "affordable" community colleges, and what impact would either have on eligibility for Pell Grants? BUT we already voted to decide each plank on an up or down vote, not a rewording. But this isn't actually rewording. It's a technical change. Is not. Is too. Is not.

And all the time, we have to know in our heart of hearts that, during the time this platform will stay in effect, neither "tuition-free" nor "affordable" have the chance of a snowball in hell.

BUT - I gotta LOVE the insistence of people to have their say, to demand a definition of terms, to get it right. Not to settle.

I've spent some time in the streets. I've spent lots of time complaining. But nothing quite takes the place of seeing the painful and painstaking way that things actually get done.

So, I ask anybody complaining about politics. Ever been to a meeting? Are you tough enough to go to one?