My first Dean meetup

So I attended the Oakland Dean 2004 meetup at the Box Theatre last night. Here’s a good shot of my emerging bald spot. You know, I’ve always voted, and usually for Democrats, but I’ve never before volunteered for a candidate or become in any way involved aside from passively following campaigns and then voting (and, I guess, enthusiastically discussing politics with friends). This time around I feel that I have to do what I can, large or small, to help change the direction of the country.
We went around that circle talking about why we were there, what we knew about Dean, why we were supporting, or considering supporting him, and asking and answering questions. There was a wide range of ages and political backgrounds represented, from Republicans to Democrats to Greens, with some people who expressed very little ideological leanings aside from particular issues (the environment, for example, or health care). There was general agreement that things are going in the wrong direction. About half of us had never worked for a candidate before.
Later, everyone met together and discussed ideas about how to improve the campaign. A big issue was reaching out to people who are not necessarily white, college-educated, and Internet-savvy. Often, the response was along the lines of ,”That’s a great idea. You should do it.” When anyone said, “Someone should…” the answer was often “You should….”
I like the way this campaign is devolving down to the local and even individual level and inviting us to become agents in our own political process. Some are worried that this will lead to a muddy message or to loose-cannon behavior. This is a real risk, but I think the old-fashioned rigidly hierarchical campaign approach cannot stand against this radically decentralized energy.
We were asked to give money (of course) and to sign up to participate in other events, and then they screened a Dean speech from April in San Francisco that at time had the 100 or so people in the theatre audience whooping it up and cheering. I got a warm fellow feeling from the other attendees and I’m on the lookout now for more ways that I can contribute my time, energy, and skills to this effort.