...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Thursday, August 07, 2003
      ( 2:56 PM )
Meet Up Goes Analog

I am by no means computer-savvy - I just sort of learn as I go. I secretly find a little thrill in using the word "analog" - it reminds me of that pink rotory phone I used to have in my bedroom as a teenager - sort of a secret luddite fantasy I have of everyone getting together without the use of keyboards or cell phones. Of course, then all those people get together and overthrow the fascist government and make things right (my teen years were weren't exactly bopper-ish). My fantasy was somewhat realized here in Portland last night. We experimented and we got great results.

The Dean campaign now boasts over 260,000 signed-up volunteers and over 80,000 people signed up for Meet-Up. All over the country thousands of people met together to talk about Howard Dean and how they can get involved in getting Bush out of office and starting this country back on the right track. They mostly all organized and recruited using the internet. I think the foundation the campaign has laid by using web-based tools and people with email and internet access is fantastic...and formidable. But there are millions of potential voters in this country who don't use the internet or even care about it.

Those are the people I want to reach.

We had six "official" Meet-ups in Portland last night. The one I co-hosted was organized and advertised exclusively without the use of the internet (though some people ended up hearing about it by emails from people).

We are trying to reach out to my neighborhood. Northeast and North Portland are the communities and neighborhoods where the vast percentage of Oregon's "minorities" live. I hate that word and I try never to use it because no one should be called "minor" - so let's just say I proudly live where all the "rest of us" working class just-trying-to-get-by folks are living and hoping to keep gentrification from pushing them out of their homes. I love my neighborhood, and as my long-time readers will know, I absolutely love the way my community has a voice and uses it. I would love that voice to speak collectively though votes. The only way we advertised for our Meet Up was flyers - very ineffective, but we were on a tight budget and lacked time.

Amazingly, attendance exceeded our expectations and at least 25 people showed up. A full quarter of them came to learn more about Dean. So while the other already committed "Dean-ites" got started writing personal letters to Democrat voters in NH, we got together for a bull-session with the interested few. They had really good questions. Some really hard questions too. But I think we answered them as best as possible (for instance, Dean hasn't made a full-fledged position speech on Palestine, but we know his general feelings on the matter). Most of all, I think they just wanted to be convinced he could win.

I think that's what people who felt so disenfranchised the last few elections, and those who are still reeling from 2000 are looking for: a winner. I've said it before, I think Dean is the guy who can win. And just like I've said before that I don't agree with all his positions (I am far more lefty than he is), I like his platform, his willingness to speak out, and the fact that his campaign is propelled by PEOPLE not by corporations and big money donors. We're now working on methods and ways to reach our community in "real life." I think we may soon be setting up regular voter registration drives. Remind anyone of a long ago era when political campaigning really WAS a people-powered movement? See, the more people we can get to register, there are that many more votes to use against Bush.

As I've said before, my activism has always been on the side of the downtrodden and the little guy who usually doesn't have a chance in hell of winning, but who needs a voice... but this is the first time I've invested my time (and yes, a little bit of my precious, hard earned, highly-taxed money) in a campaign that I actually think is a winner and that I might get to taste victory for the first time. No matter what the pundits say, no matter how people try to pidgeonhole this campaign, in the end, I think it's all about people. It's already more about us and what we want than it is about Dean. It's the old snowflake analogy: by itself its fragile and will melt in a moment, but stick millions of snowflakes together, and we can roll over a city... or a fascist government. It's an intoxicating idea, that's for sure. Almost like a fantasy come true.

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