Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Perspective on Dallas

If anyone wasn't in Dallas (and why weren't you?) for the 2007 YDA National Convention, I believe Paul McKrell's recap of it should give you a pretty good idea of what went on. But I think it only covers part of why these conventions are so important. Paul nodded in the direction of the social networking aspect, and I feel that's a very important aspect of what went on in Dallas. I was one of the people who didn't serve on a single committee, didn't run for any office, wasn't involved in any caucuses or elections and I even missed quite a few speakers (though, thankfully, not the amazing John Edwards). But I still feel that Dallas was not just an enjoyable time but an extremely productive one and very beneficial for me to attend. Why?

Quite simply, if you put this many bright, dedicated Democrats in one place you're bound to have some amazing discussions and meet some fascinating people. Within hours of showing up in Dallas I found myself talking to the Secretary of the Democratic National Committee. The ability to have private, informal conversations with someone like that or with Chuck Rocha of the USW is not just a privilege, but its a learning experience. On my last night in Dallas, our National Committeeman Tim Brennan and I sat and had drinks with a former Executive Director & Treasurer of the Texas YDs. This is truly my favorite part of these conventions: the access to people who have gone through so many years of advancing the Democratic cause and are willing to share their accumulated wisdom with the next generation of leaders.

But that isn't the only important benefit. The peer-to-peer contact is outstanding. For starters, there's a morale boost from talking to so many people who are fighting the same fight, frequently under worse conditions. Where I'm from, in Chester County, it's tough to be a Democrat. We win, but we have to fight like Ulysses to do it. But when you talk to our proud, fighting Democrats in a place like Alabama, where their uphill climb is something on par with K2, it really makes you appreciate how important our work is here and how lucky we are to be in the Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Another great aspect of peer-to-peer contact is the intermixing of ideas. I came back bursting with ideas, both in how to make the YDs stronger and how to better run campaigns. There's a lot more to swapping war stories than just fun. Not only are you learning new tricks but you're teaching them to others.

This doesn't just apply to our contact with people from other states. The sheer amount of camaraderie that is built amongst a delegation is truly impressive. Our Commonwealth is blessed with a plethora of bright and dedicated people, and most of them I had only met in passing at state committee meetings. I had the privilege of traveling with Dan Lodise of Philadelphia and Danny Bauder of Luzerne County. Being able to spend time with people like this and discuss the challenges facing our commonwealth, our party, our organization... there's just no price that can be put on that. In fact, I'd wager that I learned more about politics from going to this convention than I did from being a Political Science major (and I can definitely put a price on that!). And the working relationships that grow out of it are an important part of making our very, very, very large commonwealth a much smaller place.

Overall, I think that these conventions are a terrific way of growing the future of the Democratic Party, and I think that everyone should try their utmost to be at the next one.

- Dan Tyman,
PAYD Corresponding Secretary

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