A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

How to Stay Politically Active Between Elections

Most of the time and effort that a politically engaged citizen will do is focused around an election. We've had a lot of elections in California and the Bay Area lately: not only the expected 2006 and 2004 primary and main elections, but also the 2005 special election, and before that, a slew of special elections to fill some of the musical chair slots of our local representatives.

But what about the other three-fourths of the year that is not election season?

Certainly there are groups you can join and go to meetings. Groups like the Alameda Democratic Club, East Bay for Democracy, Progressive Democrats of the East Bay, and soon, the 16th AD Democrats (which I will discuss in future posts).

Beyond that, there are websites you can read and online groups that you can join, to stay informed and stay engaged. Some of these are listed in the sidebar of this website.

But I think that one of the most important things we can do is to continue to pull this country away from the neo-con influence, one person at a time. A great way to do this is to learn how to talk to people who may not agree with us politically. In an area like the East Bay, it's easy to avoid conservatives and neocons for days upon end, but we all have to deal with them once in a while.

George Lakoff has a wonderful new book, Thinking Points, that serves as a manual to understand communication with people who might not think of themselves as liberal, but actually do share some values such as love of the land or fairness. He shows how you actually can reach them by activating these values.

The Rockridge Institute, Lakoff's thinktank located in the East Bay, has a great new community website, Rockridge Nation. One of my favorite sections of this website is a forum where members can bring up issues and discuss how to best frame those issues. I have high hopes for this website and group; I'm hoping to see the group put pressure on our democrat politicans to stop using neocon terminology and framing. (Every time I hear Howard Dean talk about "The War on Terror", I cringe!)

Anyhow, my point is that even when there is no election around the corner, we can still engage our neighbors, family, associates, etc. in conversation, and bring up values that we hold important. Those who are not firmly entrenched in the right-winger agenda can be swayed, just a bit at at time. By the time 2008 rolls around, we may have a chance.