Restoring my Faith in Democracy
The Democrats Abroad Toronto Debate-Watch Party, April 2016
Attending the Democrats Abroad debate-watch party in Toronto this week reminded me how we are so much better than the memes and mean comments I see on social media or news opinions every day.
“Democracy isn’t something we have — it’s something we do,” as the great Granny D put it.
In a couple roomfuls of a hundred or more American Democrats here in Toronto — which was split about 2-to-1 for Bernie supporters — we just had a helluva party.
There was no animus, no hatred, no division. Yet it was like a sporting event with supporters of both teams in the room. I never heard a “boo” all night — but I did hear applauding and cheering for both, and in fact saw Bernie supporters applauding Hillary comments, and Hillary supporters applauding Bernie’s answers. It was a bright-eyed manifestation of how I see and experience politics.
Maybe it’s the anonymity of being online, of being isolated in one’s own world, that’s a factor in some of the unfortunate things that are said and passed around.
But it was my experience, being in a room full of Democrats from all over America, that we actually got along. Quite well.
I engaged in I-don’t-know-how-many wonderful conversations and mid-debate joke riffs with Democrats strongly in favor of one candidate or the other. There wasn’t a bad word exchanged by any of us all night during nonstop back-and-forths between people 100% committed to one side or the other.
It was the greatest thing I could ever hope to experience. I mean, in a Democratic primary sorta way. 🙂
The smiles, the joy, the energy, the engagement, the understanding, the knowledge that these people have — it’s like legend tells us Congress once was — people of different philosophies respectfully debating the issues before them. Imagine!
I just saw it play out among Democrats one border removed.
I started talkin to this couple, and a first question often is, “So, where’re you from?” And they answer Chicago. Apropos of little, I say, “Oh! I was just there for the Dead shows!” And they light right up!! And as we riff along the tune, eventually the guy tells me he was at Winterland for the shows they shot the The Grateful Dead Movie at. (What!) Of course he bought a copy of my book and now weir all besties for life.
And there was another brilliant moment where I was sitting in front of this guy who looked a helluva lot like Bernie and was supporting him, next to a woman who didn’t look unlike Hillary … and was supporting her. 🙂
And I just listened in awe to the two of them riff the light fandango — smart as hell — SUPER friendly rapid-fire back-&-forth. I never understood that Carville–Matalin marriage — but here I was watching it play out live in front of me. With Love. And Respect.
What I’m saying is — for all the family-feud in-fighting I see so unfortunately playing out on television, Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere — to quote Bernie Sanders, “Hillary Clinton on her worst day is a hundred times better than any of the Republicans.”
In a hastily-called gathering in Toronto, with Americans from California to Florida to New York to Kansas, we celebrated the hell out of the candidates. It was all real and randomly assembled Democrats — Bernie and Hillary supporters — taking over multiple rooms of a former mansion in maybe the coolest bar in downtown Toronto — and it was a love-in! We applauded, cheered, fist-pumped, toasted, laughed, high-fived — and the room was totally split. And it was the most contentious debate of them all!
We Dems Abroad have the same energy at Presidential debates in the fall — but to see us all doing it April in the thick of a close primary — so … together — it was a beautiful thing.
CTV News was there with a camera crew covering it, and the bartender and I were laughing about how hardly anybody in this massive establishment was watching the hockey playoffs or baseball games on the other TVs — and the cable news channel was causing the loudest cheers and thickest crowds in the joint. 🙂
Democracy isn’t something you have — it’s something you do.
And boy — were we doin’ it up in T.O.!
These kinds of engagements are happening all over America, and all over the world.
Connect with any Dem / Bern / Hill group of your choice — but get out and join them.
This is the 9th Presidential campaign I’ve been involved in — and it’s the most wild crazy unpredictable beyond-fiction one ever.
Get out and have as many public experiences of this as you can. Get involved.
All the way through the Inauguration.
I love being a Deadhead. I love being a Prankster. I love being a Beat. And I love being a Democrat.
The core crew of Democrats Abroad in Toronto.
Here’s the story of The Grateful Dead in Chicago.
Here’s where you can get the book the Chicago Democratic Deadheads bought.
Here’s a piece I had published on Bill Clinton’s first Inauguration.
Here’s election night in Manhattan at Barackefeller Center — one of the most celebratory nights in the history of New York City.
by Brian Hassett
karmacoupon@ gmail.com BrianHassett.com