Another Year of Nuts & Bolts Democracy


Westchester for Change

Westchester for Change

Forty people are sitting in Ellen Deixler’s living room in Rye talking things over. No one’s talking anyone chaining themselves to heavy equipment, or trespassing on private or government property, or interfering with the flow of traffic. But there is talk about holding anti-fracking rallies, working on political campaigns, organizing educational event and calling the governor on the phone every single morning. This is how Westchester for Change closes out one year and looks to the next.

Westchester for Change colors inside the lines. They are the most coherent voice of progressive democrats in the county and they’ve been making things happen since 2007, and they’re planning to continue making things happen. (Visit them on the web here) There’s two state assemblymen here tonight, and one state senator, come to pay their respects, answer questions, and talk tactics.

The organization was born in a bit of a fever. A few people, excited by the possibilities of hope and change, worked enthusiastically on Obama’s first campaign. After the election they decided to stick together to see what else might benefit from their organized efforts.

Nuts and Bolts

Nuts and Bolts

There are maybe forty people in attendance tonight, and the old hands say it’s the best attended annual meeting yet, and they’re very happy to see some new faces. The membership skews middle-aged, upper middle class, and white. Maybe if someone who knows social media were willing to pitch in, it’s suggested, some younger members might start to be attracted.

Susan Van Dolsen facilitates the meeting with the air of someone who is working for incremental change over the long haul. Trim and intense, she’s just at home here as at the vigil, the rally, or introducing the experts she’s brought together to discuss the dangers of radioactive radon or the Algonquin Pipeline Extension. She makes sure everyone at the meeting provides an opinion (or two) about what should be worked on in the coming year.

There’s a lot of attention given to fracking, and some given to climate change and other environmental issues. Working on campaigns and supporting legislation will continue to be a priority. There’s talk about income inequality, affordable housing, and even some eloquent remarks in praise of unions. There’s a tart critique of Noam Bramson who lost to Rob Astorino for county executive. (Not good at retail politics, doesn’t like shaking hands, would rather sit in living rooms and talk about policy, and that doesn’t get a person votes). In short, Westchester for Change is a group of people nursing the flames of traditional liberal and progressive ideals who continue to hope and work for change.

There’s also an awareness that coloring inside the lines by pressuring a largely corrupted and bought-off government won’t change much, so there’s a lot of quite specific discussion about campaign finance reform.

They’re not just building castles in the sky. There’s no fracking in New York State largely because of the work of this group and a few others like it – groups who are credible, organized, and bring enough political muscle to the game that politicians think twice about crossing them, however much they’re being romanced by the natural gas lobby.

By the end of the evening everyone’s feeling at least a little excited. This group of grownups whose hearts are in the right place are ready to work and will keep insisting on keeping their incremental and transformative hopes alive.

Progressive Values

Progressive Values

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