On Democratic activism and New Year's Resolutions

I made twelve new year's resolutions for 2008. Now, almost eight weeks into the year and 254 days from the Big Day, I wanted to reflect on those resolutions and what I'm doing to change our Party and our communities for the better. As you read about what I've done/am doing, I want you to think about what you have done and can do.

The Tough Road to Leadership

Last week College Democrats chapters throughout the state held elections for the Executive Board of the Michigan Federation of College Democrats (MFCD). I decided to run for President of MFCD for both personal and greater reasons.

The MFCD President serves as an Officer-At-Large of the Michigan Democratic Party and thus sits on the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee. Since 'State Central' (as it's known in Michigan Democratic circles) met last April on the campus of Central Michigan University, I have been fascinated by the inner workings of the Party structure, its rules and bylaws, and how its operation can help/hinder the party, its electoral success, and its ability to stand up for true progressive principles. The MFCD President is also a Vice Chair of the MDP Youth Caucus.

In recent years, MFCD has lacked the leadership needed to become effective. I won't go into the gory details, but let's just say I knew that if I was going to become President, I'd have my hands full. But if MFCD was to become effective, good leaders needed to step up and grab the bull by the horns. I did not want to sit on the sidelines and let MFCD continue to suffer.

My opponent was MFCD's Treasurer, so I assumed I would have an uphill climb. Still, I contacted each chapter and asked them to support me. I shared with them my vision for MFCD and reminded them that

The stakes are just too high for the status quo to continue in MFCD this election year. We must put an end to the days of dischord and ineffectiveness in MFCD.
Despite my efforts, I didn't win. Still, the new President, Chris Stergalas, said he'd be willing to appoint me to an ex officio position, and at yesterday's MFCD convention he spoke about how he too sees the need for MFCD to change in order to become effective.

Robert F. Kennedy once said, "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." Yet I don't think I failed at all. Sure I didn't win, but (1) I didn't expect to win; (2) I learned a few things during my campaign; (3) as I said, Chris said he'd make sure I and the others who lost MFCD races had an opportunity to serve as ex officio officers; (4) I am confident that the issues I raised during my campaign will be addressed. Thus, I am not as disappointed about not winning as I figured I would be, and I don't regret running (though I'm sure I would've regretted not running).

On the Prowl

I suppose the disappointment surrounding my loss was cushioned by something else that happened to me on Thursday night.

I stopped by the Isabella County Democratic Party (ICDP) office to drop off a couple of books for the ICDP's mini-library (one that includes books by Al Franken, Maureen Dowd, Jim Hightower, and others which are donated by ICDP members themselves).

I had a nice long chat with ICDP Treasurer John Barker about how our lives are going, the McCain/Iseman story (see his post on the ICDP Dispatch), and opportunities to get involved this year. That's when he informed me that the person heading up the Blue Tiger Democrats in Isabella County was stepping aside.

Long story short, I am the new coordinator of the Isabella County Blue Tiger Democrats (ICBTD)!

What are the Blue Tiger Democrats?
Blue Tiger Democrats believe that civic engagement must be a major priority of local Democratic and Progressive organizations across the country.

We advocate channeling the massive volunteerism seen during the 2004 and 2006 elections towards projects in our local communities just as Democrats did historically from the mid 1800s through World War II.
Among other things, Blue Tigers in Michigan and New York have educated folks on how to save energy and take advantage of veterans' benefits.

To lead an organization that can have such an impact on both the local Democratic Party and Greater Mount Pleasant is such an honor. I can't wait to help build ICBTD into a powerful force in the Mount Pleasant community!

A couple more things

I have also decided to apply for a paid internship/fellowship in DC, having been nominated by a good friend of mine who took advantage of that opportunity last year. The bad news? If I am chosen, I will spend ten weeks a thousand miles away from my home. The good news? I will get paid to earn valuable experience and spend time gin the nation's capital, familiarizing myself with the city where I'll be working after I'm elected to Congress in 2018. :-)

I have also applied to be an uncommitted district or at-large delegate (I applied for both) to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. More on that later this week!

About those resolutions...

Back to the resolutions I've made (see link at beginning of post).

I've lost a few pounds and have commenced my summer job hunt (in case I don't get that internship). I'm studying hard for midterms so I can make that Dean's List. And of course I am beginning to kick my activism into high gear for the election, as I hope you are too. (Here's to more and better Democrats!) And I am excited to fulfill my resolution to lead something - ICBTD!

In all honesty, I've slacked off when it comes to organization and frugality. And the Student Government Elections Committee was filled before I heard about it. And why do I keep putting off contacting my elected officials?!

But as I consider that each moment is precious - and as you can gather from this post - I am taking Gandhi's advice to become that change I wish to see. On December 31, 2008, I don't want to look back on this year as a wasted opportunity. I want a sense of accomplishment to fill my heart both then and whenever it is (several decades down the road, hopefully) that I lay on my deathbed.

On that happy occasion next January 20, when our new Democratic President takes that oath of office, I want to look myself in the mirror and say that I was a part of it.

And on that solemn occasion down the road, when my family and friends reflect on my (hopefully long!) life and lay me to rest, I want someone to prepare a simple two-word epitaph for my tombstone:

No Regrets

1 comment:

Tim said...

You have been meme'd, Scott. Check my blog for details.

See you on thursday, dude.