Tuesday, April 04, 2006

An Evening in Blue

The Penn Democrats of the University of Pennsylvania (who recently were named Pennsylvania’s College Democrats Chapter of the Year) hosted an evening with a number of candidates tonight. Around 75 people came out, most looked like undergraduates but there were a few who looked like older city residents. Chapter president Nathan Hake served admirably as emcee. These are my impressions of the speakers. I took notes as carefully as I could and apologize for any errors.

Chris Bowers of mydd started the evening off by pointing out that we need to become more active and make sure the political machinery is in place to win elections. He encouraged those attending to get involved at the local level, and consider becoming committeepeople.

Duncan Black of Atrios, took the floor next and continued the theme that people need to be more involved in the political process. He also told a number of jokes. His take on the evening is here.

Paul Lang, candidate for the 6th state senate district, followed and spoke on the importance of the state legislature in many issues that directly affect us, such as health care and the minimum wage. As another example he mentioned that New Jersey has almost 30 caseworkers for returning veterans. Pennsylvania, with four times as many veterans, has three. He spoke well and I foresee a long political future for him.

Philadelphia City Councilman Michael Nutter talked about the need for an educated workforce and thus for colleges and college graduates. He also made the point that if you want politicians to pay attention to your issues you should be sure to vote.

Dennis Spivack, candidate for a Delaware congressional seat, took the floor after Lang. He is a Penn alum, as is his daughter. He said we have a rare opportunity as voters are listening to candidates right now. Spivack spoke at length and my apologies to him for not recording more of it, but since he is from out of state I took this opportunity to count heads.

Lois Murphy, candidate for the 6th congressional district, was up next. She listed the things she expected of the Bush administration and the Republican controlled Congress and said they had actually done far worse that she thought. Like Spivack she thinks the electorate is engaged and interested and this provides an opportunity for candidates to connect with them. She called for responsibility and integrity in Washington. This was my first opportunity to see or hear her and I wasn’t disappointed.

Joe Hoeffel came to the podium as the audience applauded. He also listed things like tax cuts for the rich, wiretapping, and the governmental failures during and after Hurricane Katrina and asked if we had had enough. There was resounding agreement. He said we must respond to the GOP mantras of cutting taxes and shrinking the government. He said that the GOP was so scornful of government that they put cronies into important government jobs. Hoeffel spoke of Democratic values, such as healing the sick and housing the homeless, and said they were strong moral value, Biblical values. Democrats embrace the last, the least, and the lost among us. He said the GOP uses this against us, since we allow everyone a seat at the table, and we need to reclaim our beliefs, such as public action for public good, and that community values are as important as family values. He was in rare form and it was great to see him in action again.

Patrick Murphy, candidate for the 8th congressional district, ended the evening on a high note. I’ve heard Patrick speak before but he was exceptional tonight. He said he followed Gandhi’s belief that we must be the change we want to see in the world. He also spoke of being the youngest professor at West Point while he was there and challenging a visiting senior Defense Department official on matters of policy. In his view the current administration is squandering the reputation our fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers built for our country. He said this election season was an incredible opportunity for people to be involved in politics and asked that at the end of the day we look in the mirror and ask if we are doing everything we can to change the world. I’m not capturing the passion with which he spoke or the cadence of his words, I can only tell you that you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear him talk.

This was a chance for me to see and hear a number of candidates at once and it was well worth the effort to get out. I would encourage all of you to take advantage of forums and settings like this, which all too often only seem to occur in election years, to observe and interact with those who are or would be your voice in government. My thanks to the candidates, Duncan and Chris, and the Penn Dems for an enjoyable evening. And yes, I did wear blue. For those who might have been there and are wondering who I was, I sat in the midst of things next to a student who was probably horrified that people might think he brought his mother with him.

[Updates: www.penndems.org has photos of the event; also I had originally said the group had been named Young Democrats chapter of the year -- it is College Democrats. I apologize for the error which has been corrected.]


AMN said...

Oh damn, I'm not sure if I got a chance to speak with you or not. As probably the resident political blogmonger, I was trying to speak with the bloggers who came. I did get a chance to speak with Chris, Atrios, and Booman. Anyways, I justed wanted to say thanks for the kind words about our event! Hopefully, we'll be able to host a similar type of event as it gets closer to Election Day.

AboveAvgJane said...

It was a great event and I hope you have more of them.

LVDem said...

hey, if I ever got my mom to come to a political event, I'd show her off. She normally rolls her eyes at me when I talk about politics.

Glad the event was great. We need more of them.

AboveAvgJane said...

But you may not have felt that way when you were 19.....