Democracy for America

Last week I attended the local Democracy for America (DFA) chapter meeting (DFA-QC). Democracy for America began as Dean for America—the campaign of Governor Howard Dean of Vermont for the 2004 Presidential Race. When Gov Dean failed to win the democratic primary after developing his unique online campaign network, the network knew that the need still existed for the work of the people involved even if the reason for its creation had not succeeded. The changed the name and we have been going strong ever since.

DFA-QC Member w/Flat Howard cut-out at a meeting

DFA-QC Member w/Flat Howard cut-out at a meeting

I met Governor Dean several times at fund-raising breakfasts hosted by the Quad Cities Federation of Labor and at meetings of Progressive Action for the Common Good (PACG). PACG is an award-winning grassroots organization in the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois that has several forum groups that address several issues of social justice including:  health care, the environment, and reclaiming moral values from the religious right. DFA-QC works under the umbrella of PACG coordinating events with the larger group and using the expanded resources of the group to reach the entire area.

I want to talk about our meeting last week, but I want to also let you know about the organization. So I will introduce the organization first by telling you how I became involved in it.

I spent many years working at jobs that really didn’t fit my personality or my core beliefs. They were basically just a way to earn money, and not very good ways at that. I worked for many years in an Apple Computer store, but the owners got tired of doing that and sold the business. That was probably the closest I came to working in the field of my BA in Math/Computer Science and Business Administration from Augustana College in Rock Island.

Then I worked in various offices. I usually got paid a little more than minimum wage, but not much. Then I started working in the bar/restaurant business. The employers paid me less than minimum wage for most of it, but I was able to earn more money with my tips since I was very good at my job. But that career put me too close to temptation and I spent all of my money having fun instead of building a life.

After several years of that and then a few years on disability, I went back to my church. They sent me to leadership training with an organization that they helped found for community organizers. I began working for one of the other organizations my church helped found and still supports. Then I worked for the church, then I worked for several other community organizations.

Where ever I was, I was the person everyone called on to deal with the computers. I was the only one not afraid to use them and comfortable trying to solve problems with them. And I felt woefully inadequate. My training had been on mainframe computers using punch cards! Then I worked with Apple Computers. We also sold a few “IBMs” but they were not my focus and they had been menu driven, before Windows—before Microsoft!

I had already decided to attend more school, but I thought I would attend seminary. I was taking a course of study through our church association for licensed ministry. It’s what many churches call Lay Ministry. The person has training, but doesn’t have a degree. They can serve a church as pastor, but need reapply every year and get special permission to perform all of the rites of the church.

I needed to have money to go to seminary, so I joined the AmeriCorps Program. It is a program for people to work in careers of service to earn education money and if you work full-time, a stipend for expenses. The Clinton Administration created it and it was like the Vista Program formed during President Kennedy’s Administration. It has one key difference, Vista usually sends people to work in communities other than the one they live in while AmeriCorps members usually work close to home. The same corporation administers both.

I even took a trial seminary course while I was in the program. I decided that I didn’t have what it takes to become a pastor. I take on the stress and weight of the problems of the people I am around too much to be able to sustain a career tending people and watching for their souls.

That’s when I decided that I should do what I first went to school for and work on computers as a career and help people voluntarily. But I knew my skills were outdated, so I decided to go the locally community college—Black Hawk College (BHC) in Moline, IL for some career updating.

While at BHC, I joined the College Democrats and several other groups. While a part of College Democrats, we worked on several campaigns and I met the people in DFA-QC. We co-hosted a DFA training weekend on campus and I continue to work with them. I became active in a couple of the PACG forums and volunteered for many campaigns because of my involvement with DFA-QC.

I will admit that my time spent on these activities has slacked off in the past year or two. But I feel guilty about it every time I get a new meeting notice.

So I took the first step back into public service last week and attended the monthly meeting. It was almost like I had never stopped attending. The familiar faces and the continued passion for social justice energized me to get involved again. And it helped set my resolve to write this blog. I felt that the topic was something I was passionate about, but I wasn’t sure if anyone cared any more. But I found out they do. So here I am. Writing for whomever it concerns. I hope it concerns most of you. Not just because I need to find a way to make a living at this through appealing to as many people as possible, but because I want to show as many people as possible that the people attacking the Health Care Reform Bill and using the words Liberal and Socialist as if they were coined by the devil are not the true voice of all Americans. And that they are wrong in so many ways.

I admitted in my first post that I have self-esteem issues, but in this case, my reason wins out. I KNOW I am correct and I know I cannot keep silent about it any more.

I am also sharing my thoughts with you because to keep them inside is doing me absolutely no good. Every program for helping people overcome mental ills from addiction to the deepest depression. From time to time I have spent time writing about my feelings, and it did make me feel better. But I usually kept them to myself. I harbored ideas about compiling a memoir (isn’t that a bit of egotism) to publish, but I couldn’t keep track of all the things I was collecting—and it seemed a bit too egocentric for me any way. So this project took hold of my imagination and here it is.

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