Truth be told, I didn’t want to to attend the Democratic Party of Wisconsin State Convention this year. It was too soon after the recall, and I was just too damn tired. The mere idea of pep talks and strategic planning sessions made me want to crawl into bed with a bunch of junk food and remain there until the weekend passed. But since the hotel room was booked and the convention ticket paid for, I made the drive to Appleton. I’m glad I did, but not for the reasons you might think.
It wasn’t the all-you-can-drink-beer-with-glass-purchase at one hospitality suite (though that was nice), and it wasn’t the ice cream sundaes at the hospitality suite next door (though they were delicious).
It wasn’t the speeches. They were good, but not good enough to make me leap to my feet more than once per speaker.
It wasn’t even getting to meet Ed Schultz (though that was really cool).
No, what made the convention for me was Mahlon Mitchell’s impromptu musical performance and rally at 12am, after some conference-goers had gone to bed.
Mitchell’s performance wasn’t planned, staged, or even on-key. But it was original, authentic, organic, and just what we needed.
As the two-person band played along, Mahlon led us in a series of chants like “This is what democracy looks like!”, “What’s disgusting? Union busting!”, “The people united, will never be defeated!” and “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!”. Fists pumped in the air, people whooped and hollered, cell phones were whipped out, and You Tube videos were created.
For the first time since Tuesday’s recall election, I felt unstuck, uplifted, and unified with other Democrats.
I realized that the future success of the Democratic Party lies in the willingness of party leaders to embrace unorthodox methodology, take some risks, think outside the box, and ultimately, trust in the people of Wisconsin, just like Mahlon Mitchell did on Friday night/Saturday morning.