So, I went last night to the local Dems meeting. My second.
Man. There’s a reason people don’t know anything about politics — and that’s because politics is like freaking rocket science. Dear gods. It’s like a Martian getting dropped at a football game. There are rules and fields and crowds and sidelines, and who the hell knows what any of it all means? It might as well be Greek!
That said, you know, I’m a pretty firm believer that the cure for ignorance and confusion is learning about stuff. Which means continuing to go to stuff and to read about stuff until it all makes a little sense. And then when it makes sense, that’s when I can start formulating opinions and strategies. In the meantime… rocket science!
This is what I learned last night.
There was one woman, hoping to run for West Norriton (or was it East Norriton?) commissioner, who said she’s a “political junkie.” I actually grokked that. I didn’t realize that “political junkie” could be a thing — but I totally get it now. I can see where learning the rules and the process, seeing the “small ‘d’ democracy” in action (as somebody put it last night) can be interesting, and a hobby and a calling. Because honestly, I’m finding the whole thing fascinating. I don’t understand it, but it’s really, really interesting to me.
The school board in this area, I think (if I interpreted the Greek correctly), oversees the schools in Norristown and East Norriton and West Norriton, and manages a budget of $150 million — which comes, in part, from my actual property taxes–that check I write (or, more correctly, the mortgage company writes) every year. (And that, right there, is one of the big issues I see as being responsible for our current great divide. There’s a large swathe of people who want to control and micromanage every penny of their taxes. And there’s another large swathe of people who understand that in a democracy, we’re a nation of ‘we’, and some of your money is going to support things you don’t personally believe in. Guess which party is which?)
There are more titles and jobs than I can actually wrap my head around. ‘At-large’ people and tax collectors, who don’t actually collect taxes, and commissioners (I have no idea what they do or how many there are, but they seem to be Very Important), and committeepeople (ditto), and inspectors and judges and justices… gah. And that doesn’t even take into account this strange kabuki of who’s elected and who’s appointed.
The process seems a little similar for all of them. If you want to run, you have to fill out two things: a financial disclosure, and some sort of application petition. The petition has to be signed by a certain number of people in the area you’re running for. Different jobs need different numbers of signatures. And it all boils down to going door to door, knocking on strangers’ doors, like a guy selling alternate electricity service. Which is why I’ll NEVER run for anything. (If I ever did anything, I’d want to be the little mole in the back room, doing filing and research. I’d be a good second-in-command/slash/assistant.)
People kept talking about the MCDC meetings, and communication committees for the MCDC — and that confused me, because I was pretty sure I was already AT an MCDC meeting. So I have to look into that and see if there are other meetings happening that I could be going to, in terms of “getting involved means going to stuff.”
It feels good to go to these things, even though I’m utterly confused. It feels like I’m taking action, instead of just tearing my hair out as we gear up for war.
There are all sorts of crazy petition meetings in the next two months. I’ll have to try to figure out which ones I can go to — and hopefully, next year I’ll have a better understanding. In the meantime, the big “endorsement meeting” is on March 8. That’s when the Norristown/East Norriton/West Norriton group meets to vote on who they’re endorsing to run in the primary.