President Obama with Dr. King

The Obama era

promises to foster goodwill and increased citizen participation in public

service. By all accounts, we're on track


Answer the Call of the Obama Era


President Obama with Dr. King

The Obama era

promises to foster goodwill and increased citizen participation in public

service. By all accounts, we're on track toward this lofty notion, but the

question remains: How are we going to go about this?

Attending the

inauguration last week, I was struck by the common goodwill among the almost 2

million people attending. This was refreshing considering the bad news

regarding our economy, which seems to get worse by the day. I hope the positive

sentiment around the inauguration stays aloft and doesn't shift toward acrimony

once the honeymoon is over.

President Obama is

seen as a pragmatist. And I'm happy to hear this in light of his seeming

ascension to presidential greatness merely minutes into his first day on the

job. We've placed our new president atop a mighty high perch from which he

could fall, but from the tone of his call for service, it's obvious Obama knows

he can't right things by himself.

Regular readers of

this column should know I am very active in community efforts. There are many

personal reasons for this, but I'll just share one--I'm interested in politics.

Politics are about people. Unfortunately, too many think that participating in

politics means surfing from blog to blog. It's important to communicate, and

the Internet is a phenomenal tool, but I've found interacting with people

face-to-face is the way to accomplish things.

Last Saturday, I attended the Washington State Democratic Party reorganization. The meeting was packed with delegates from almost every county and legislative district in our state. The Obama campaign brought a lot of new energy, and this was the first meeting for around a third of the attendees.

It was announced that the Obama for America campaign was going to continue as an organization. At first, I was not happy about this. I had worked hard to organize the Democratic caucuses and convention for my county. Obama won the most delegates from our members, and now I'm told he's going to keep his own organization? Sure, the president is traditionally the head of his party, but does this mean I have to attend Obama for America meetings? As much as I'd like to, I don't have the time to commit to another organization. And what about duplicating efforts?

But newly re-elected State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz gave an address on how he sees our party that changed my mind. He likened it to an inverted multilayered cake with rank-and-file members at the top and other structural aspects of the organization sprinkled throughout. He said that being active in the party shouldn't be about holding a committee meeting every month, which is how I've traditionally been involved. Some new Democrats, he pointed out, are active in new groups like Drinking Liberally, which according to its charter is "An informal, inclusive progressive social group. Raise your spirits while you raise your glass, and share ideas while you share a pitcher." Getting involved with the party, he said, doesn't have to be about committee meetings anymore, and that's just my point: People should come together however they can with common goals. (Hey, couldn't there be a Recovering Liberally group for people who can't drink?)

People claim we have a two-party political system in the United States, but this is not entirely true. Our political spectrum is far more nuanced than that. There's the Democratic Party, Obama for America, Move On, and myriad single-issue groups that are part of the center-left coalition. If we are to unite under one effort--and I cannot resist this double entendre of drinking and politicking--then we are all part of the Obama Party!

There's nothing wrong with the fellowship of sharing a pitcher of beer if that works for you. Just as long as there's an effort to make things happen, not just hanging out in bars and posting comments on blogs. Get out there and make things happen: It's the call of the Obama Era.

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