Thursday, September 3, 2009

Street Fight & Campaigns

Tonight I am excited about campaigns. Not one campaign, or at least not writing about one campaign I am passionate about...but just campaigns the love of the democratic process and the role that campaigns, people and passion bring about.

Tonight I am reminded of a story called The Bible in Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul. "It is about a young man about to graduate from high school. All of the grads normally get cars as their gifts so he was expecting one. He went out with his father and found a car. He was very excited when the day of graduation came. His dad gave him his present, which was a bible. The boy threw it down and ran out. They never spoke again. Almost 40 years later the boy received a phone call that his dad had died. He went home to sort through his dad's belonging. While he was there he found the Bible that his dad gave him. He opened it and there was a check for the exact amount of the car." I am reminded of it only because after 4 weeks almost to the day that I received it from Netflix, I finally watched the 2005 documentary Street Fight about @Corybooker and it was a good documentary, with an even better or more appropriate ending than I could have expected.

I finally watched it tonight because I was feeling excited: something I enjoy but seldom share. My facebook status and a shortened version for twitter read,

"Very excited to have been at the 1st ever SBCC Campus Dems Mtg! Janet Wolf was a great speaker & I know that after this year young dems in SB will have a loud voice that shall never be ignored."

I don't know if it was the group of SBCC students there- they reminded me of myself in my SBCC days and of how I would have never imagined at that time, what exactly this whole study of Politics, was. I would eventually study abroad, transfer to UCSB and graduate with a Political Science degree and would learn facts and figures but not tap into the real excitement of politics until I graduated in 2006.

Maybe the excitement came from having our speaker be Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf as the first speaker for their club. Supervisor Wolf acknowledged, that even when others disagree with her, they trust her. I can certainly attest to that! Supervisor Wolf's story and experience about coming into politics is a very real one. I lamented that there was no SBCC campus dems in my day, because perhaps I would've found my love for politics earlier than I did. For Supervisor Wolf, maybe she could have found her love for politics earlier than when she first attended a school board meeting. As I was thinking about this, I concluded that we all find our passion for politics, and issues when it is right. I also think it is our responsibility to help others find this passion.

Recently, we witnessed the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. It was impressive (for me) to learn so much about his earlier life, as I watched bios and read articles. The lessons he left behind were big. Among them, I strongly believe that large people (I mean in spirit and character and of stature) have equal capabilities to be good or bad- and there is always a point where the decision is made, and sometimes it can include some changes of attitude. For Kennedy, while he never became Commander in Chief, it was in the moment that he gave that ambition up that he rose to a whole different level. How can that be? The way that people admired him and his work was definitely inspiring.

Another thought I've had this year is that reminder, that while I am a self identified, Progressive (practical) Democrat, we must repeatedly remember that those we disagree with, have the same amount of passion for the issues and their own experiences that led them to their reasoning.

If you asked me, there are two options with politics, either you engage and participate in what will affect you, or you disengage and let others decide what and how things will affect you. There is no middle option, no gray area. Whether it is electing a candidate, passing a measure or opposing one, you alone have the key by either voting, and/or influencing all those that trust you and come in contact with you! A winning strategy has been not only to change minds and hearts but rather to engage new or otherwise what is named a low propensity voter, also known as someone that for whatever reasons just doesn't vote as often. If I had it my way, a political internship would be a high school graduation requirement and there would be no reason why able bodied people couldn't walk at least on precinct walk per election. Sure, elections are won with money too, but really, it is the contacting, engaging and educating of voters that makes a difference. While campaign message developers and strategists earn a pretty penny, and much of campaigns is mechanical, there must be a point that resonates with the voters. A fundamental truth, that cannot be spun and a stake that individuals have in each election.

It was mentioned tonight, that the UCSB Campus Dems have made huge contributions in regard to GOTV (get out the vote)efforts that have won elections in Isla Vista (the Campus' surrounding unincorporated area in SB County.) Those of us that hope that SBCC Campus Dems will take off and be successfully as well as those of us involved in the newly establish chapter of the Santa Barbara County Young Democrats, understand that in this case [young] people have a stake in the process, and we must work to make a difference, when it comes to lobbying, when it comes to discussions as well as elections. Individuals in the area 35 and under face the decision of deciding where to move usually upon the realization that the prices of housing for entry level jobs (if one is obtained) upon graduation is difficult to reconcile and make living in the area a real possibility. If I were in school now and watched my tuition fees rise to the level and at the speed that they are doing now, I would be very politically active, trying to hold legislators and decision makers accountable for their job, which among other responsibilities- passing a balanced budget for the state that includes funding education! The point is, I think over this year, and the next few years, we will really grow the level of active young Democrats in the area, and I believe it will make a difference in Santa Barbara...and I'm glad to be here since the beginning of it.

I've had many different trains of thought, but most of them revolve around how much I enjoy politics, and while campaigns are run differently (some ethically, some, not so much) and the issues vary, in the end I am excited to be part of the ongoing lively debates about the big and the small...