Aunt B and I decided, last minute, to attend the TAP Conference here in Nashville. This is my third, I believe, and yesterday’s conference made me more than a little sad. I think the idea of TAP (Tennessee Alliance for Progress) is a great idea, as I understand it. Progressive minded groups from across the State gather in one location to compare notes, learn techniques to help advance their particular cause, and listen to motivational speakers. Seems perfectly logical and reasonable to me. The first one I ever attended was held at what is now the Marriott Hotel. I was relatively new in town, but I was trying to raise awareness on behalf of MoveOn.org, so I decided to organize a fund-raiser here in Nashville. I literally began by “cold-calling” and canvassing throughout the city of Nashville. I’m here to tell you, that’s hard work, and certainly not for the thin-skinned. I don’t remember how I came to meet Nell Levin, but she invited me to participate in that year’s TAP Conference.
It was at that conference that I met a number of dedicated Progressives. (Let me state, for the record, that though Paul Waldman prefers the term Progressive, I embrace the term Liberal with similar pride and enthusiasm.) Nell had seen to it that the program was tightly scripted, that is, there was an agenda and her and the other people at TAP do a good job of sticking to it. At the Marriott, the workshops were all held in the same room, but took place at separate tables. I guess it became clear to TAP that they would need a more cost efficient venue in which to hold future conferences. The Cohn Adult Learning Center has been the site for last two years. I briefly attended last year’s, and there seemed to be a decent turn-out. Yesterday, however, was pathetic. I can’t quite figure out why. Part of me thinks that we are in a post mid-term election period, and we are all a little burned out, and maybe even still savoring the victory. I completely understand that. Before long, we will all be gearing up for the Primaries, and then, of course, the 08 Presidential election. In a perfect world, every precinct chairman in Tennessee would have been present, looking for holes to patch in the Democratic election infrastructure. Needs to be identified, volunteers to excite and train, strategies discussed. I could go on and on about what I would have liked to have seen. The truth is, I would have even been pleased to see total chaos, provided that there was a large crowd on hand to be, well, chaotic. I didn’t count enough people there to fill a school bus.
I suppose it’s presumptuous of me to think that I have an answer for the low attendance. All I can say is, I think I would have done a better job of marketing the damn thing. I can’t help but feel that if we are going to expect people, (especially young people, who have the energy to carry out whatever plans the tribal elders decide to implement) to give up their time and money to attend a think tank weekend, we had better generate some excitement. Also, what did it say about a Progressive organization to hold it’s conference in a venue that had a sketchy wireless connection available, and oh, did I mention the ultimate irony? There was a workshop on Progressive blogging, held in a room full of computers that were blocked from, you guessed it, blogs.
There are still issues out there of vital importance to the average Tennessean, and the average American. It truly isn’t time for Progressives to bask in last November’s glory. It troubled me to see the same faces there that I always see at Progressive events or gatherings. Almost no new young blood. It also troubles that there are still too many of us mired in our hatred for all things Republican and particularly GWB. Ok, I get it. I was mad as hell myself for a very long time. I hope I used my anger wisely. But I have moved on, so to speak. I certainly do not want to devote time and money to sit around with angry people that love to pontificate endlessly about how bad the current administration is. I really don’t. It sucks the energy from me and I can’t wait to be out of earshot. I’m glad for Organizations like Media Matters, and Truthout and many others, they have the talent and resources to help keep a one- sided administration honest And we need that. I know a dozen or so bloggers on both sides of the political spectrum that do a good job of this. I don’t read the ones that only parrot the Party line, or that merely cite sources from within a VERY small selection of like-minded organizations (see Terry Frank) . And I have no patience for those that want to flagellate me endlessly with their poorly formed opinions on politics because they have alienated everyone else in their life and they just desperately want to talk to SOMEONE.
I was glad to have Aunt B there, mainly so that she could listen intently and I could play Boggle on my laptop. I knew she could sum it all up better than me anyway. I wonder if I have to turn in my membership card now….