I soldiered my way through the 37th LD Dems monthly meeting last night, a grueling three-plus hour affair that helps to explain why it’s so difficult to bring young blood into these sort of organizations. It’s not that the topics of discussion weren’t for the most part interesting or worthy, and it’s not like I didn’t learn anything from the debate, it’s just that the proceedings would have been much more enjoyable had they been conducted in half the time, and under the influence of caffeine and/or beer.
Sitting next to me near the back of the room was a brand spanking new Precinct Committee Officer who, while one of the youngest people in the room, I’m guessing was still past the age beyond which Jerry Rubin warned us never to trust. Well into the third hour of proceedings I asked him if he had ever actually attended an LD meeting before agreeing to become a PCO, and he said no, that he had only just been recruited last month at the LD Christmas party.
“There was drinking,” he said, attempting to explain his predicament, “it was fun.” I imagined him one of the wayward boys in Pinocchio, transforming into a donkey after a raucous day on Pleasure Island. Later that evening, after he and the other new PCOs were officially appointed by acclamation, I congratulated him by leaning in and muttering “sucker.”
Of course I jest, in that I really do appreciate the hard and necessary work the party regulars perform, and I know plenty of PCOs who find their duties rewarding, gratifying and even enjoyable. I mean, what better way to get to know your neighbors than to knock on their doors and actually talk with them?
And when it comes to incessant rambling about politics, I rank with the worst of them: for all my whining about the length of last night’s meeting, I found myself standing in the rain outside the hall past midnight, continuing the discussions with a couple of my fellow LD members.
But then, I’m self-aware enough to know that when it comes to my fascination with politics, I’m weird, and that if we want to connect with voters, we really don’t want a party populated solely by weirdos like me. Imagine your average, civic-minded twenty-or-thirty-something showing up at an LD meeting, only to stumble out bleary eyed three and half hours later. Now imagine your average, civic-minded twenty-or-thirty-something coming back a second time. Hard to imagine, huh?
And yet, that’s exactly what we need to do if we want to maintain and expand the vitality and diversity of our party.