Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Public Service Announcement

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2010 at 8:32 AM

Just a quick reminder here. Tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. at AVA Lounge in East Liberty, the good folks at the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project are hosting a session on how to run for a committee seat.

We have a news feature related to these committee races -- which often times aren't races at all -- in this week's edition of the paper. It's assembled by public-policy guru Chris Briem, so you know it's good stuff. (Available in print only until tomorrow, sorry.)

In the meantime, I'll just add a plug of my own here. Admittedly, there are few posts less glamorous than serving on the party committee. It's unpaid, and what's more ... you're surrounded by people who serve on the party's committee. And among the general public, the vast majority of folks have no clue what the commitee is or does. 

And yet, committee spots are the first rung on the ladder of power. The committee's chief power is to make endorsements. That may not sound like much, but committeefolk are often the first people prospective candidates reach out to. If the first message they hear is a demand for a progressive agenda, they may take that agenda more seriously than they would just by running across it in some blog post or, God forbid, alt-weekly editorial. 

If you don't believe me, consider this January story from The New York Times, about how right-wingers are trying to remake the Republican Party in their own image:

The Tea Party movement ignited a year ago, fueled by anti-establishment anger. Now, Tea Party activists are trying to take over the establishment, ground up.

Across the country, they are signing up to be Republican precinct leaders, a position so low-level that it often remains vacant, but which comes with the ability to vote for the party executives who endorse candidates, approve platforms and decide where the party spends money.

... Its mantra is this: take the precinct, take the state, take the party -- and force it to nominate conservatives rather than people they see as liberals in Republican clothing.

That's right: The GOP is on track to become even crazier. And here's the thing -- part of the reason it got so nutty in the first place is that an earlier generation of Christian conservatives tried the same strategy teabaggers want to use now. Conservatives, too, began to work their way through the ranks of the GOP, running for easily overlooked posts often no higher than the school board level. And look at the havoc they caused. 

If that's not enough to convince you to come out, consider this. PUMP's executive director, Erin Molchany, is a committeewoman herself. And as she confessed to me the other day, "Sometimes I get a little lonely." 



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