Activist /ˈæktəvɪst/ — noun —
- an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, esp. a political cause.
At 57, I’m a latecomer to the world of political activism. I didn’t move from “reader” to “doer” until after the 2000 selection. In 2004 I gave money for the first time, volunteered for the first time, and experience my first campaigns from the inside. In 2006 I helped (in a small way) get John “Congressman Awesome” Yarmuth elected, and 2008 I volunteered all over the place, including taking vacation to walk precincts and make calls in various states.
And now, in 2010, I am writing to say that I am sick and tired of “activists.”
This year in Kentucky we have two significant opportunities that no one predicted:
- Switch Jim Bunning’s Senate seat from R to D by electing Jack Conway over Rand Paul, and
- Take back the Kentucky State Senate by electing Marty Meyer over Dan Seum.
So what’s my problem? It’s quite simple, really:
We’ve got a shitload of “activists” but damn few ACTIVISTS.
I’ve walked for Marty Meyer the past three weekends. Each weekend I’ve asked how many people are out walking, and the answer is always the same — 5 to 10. In my mind, I try to cut people some slack: “Well, it’s hot, it’s soccer season, it’s back-to-school time.” I tried to ignore the obvious answer — “Bruce, you’re putting in crazy work hours, volunteering at church, and trying to write a book, yet YOU find the time.”
Yesterday was supposed to be a BIG turnout day for Marty. A local club was supposed to send over walkers, and some other groups were also supposed to show up. When I got to Marty’s headquarters, I asked how many extra walkers had shown. The answer? Two.
That just ripped it for me. How the hell are we supposed to take advantage of this opening in front of us if NO ONE WILL GET OFF THEIR ASS AND ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING? And it’s not like we’re asking the impossible; we’re not asking people to spend hundreds of dollars traveling, or take time off from work, or go convince Tea Party Republicans to vote Democratic. ALL WE’RE ASKING IS A FEW HOURS ON A SATURDAY, AND WE CAN’T GET THE “ACTIVISTS” TO EVEN GIVE THAT.
And another thing — where are the party leaders? I don’t see THEM out walking, or showing up at phone banks. In fact, one campaign treasurer told me that most of the local party leaders had NEVER DONATED TO THE PARTY. How the hell do you sit on the leadership board and NEVER WALK, NEVER CALL, and NEVER DONATE?
You want a bullet list in this rant? Here you go:
- I’m sick and damn tired of people who want the limelight at the annual Wendell Ford Dinner, but are too lazy to give two hours on a Saturday to actually meet voters.
- I’m sick and damn tired of people who come to meetings and applaud the Democratic talking points and cheer the Democratic speakers, but then turn around and won’t give money or time to get those Democrats elected and those talking points turned into policies.
- I’m sick and damn tired of people who have time to read blogs and write blogs and bloviate across the intertubes, but don’t have time to man a phone bank or walk a precinct or even stuff envelopes or put out signs.
- And I’m DAMN sick and tired of people who want to be called “activist” but don’t know how to be ACTIVE!
— If you aren’t willing to give time and money to make a difference and to get Dems elected, as far as I am concerned you are an “activist” — someone who loves to piss and moan, but can’t be bothered to do more than read blogs and write comments in order to maintain your TU status.
— If, on the other hand, you actually show up with checkbook or calendar in hand, asking “what can I do to help us win,” then you get the title of Activist. YOU’RE the ones who make the change happen, YOU’RE the ones who give me hope that democracy “of the people” might survive. And you’re the ones whose hands I will shake on election night.