November 9, 2012 by rebelwithalabelmaker
So, when we last left off, I was getting involved in politics. I am
volunteering on the Saskatchewan NDP leadership race for candidate
Ryan Meili. I began my volunteer career by attending a volunteer
meeting and orientation, which I was nervous about because I thought I
wouldn’t know anyone. Usually when I attend events it is a church
thing and I know everyone because they are all Unitarians. At NDP
events, by contrast, I only know about 25% of the people because they
are Unitarian. The rest of them, it turns out, I know from protest
There is a saying that the Unitarians are “the NDP at prayer”. That
is not how I would put it, exactly, because the amount of time
Unitarians spend praying is really not that high. It isn’t really a
comparison that gets to the heart of the identity of either group. I
would say, instead, that “the NDP are like Unitarians but with more
orange”. Orange walls, orange…
Well just the walls, I guess, but that is enough. The Meili campaign
clearly do not have a Wall Colour Selection Committee, like most
churches do. Except my congregation, which had a bunch of elderly
ladies who took care of all aesthetics. They called themselves the
Building Improvement and Design committee, until they realized that
this abbreviates to “The Biddies”. So then they changed the name.
Twice, I think, but we just refer to it as “whatever committee Susie
is on” because that is definitely the committee you are going to need
to check with.
So I would say the NDP are like the Unitarians but with fewer
committee meetings to discuss paint colours. Which is interesting,
because political people are devoted to colours in a way you haven’t
seen since your kids were in preschool. I said “that explains why
they make you vote with no shirt on if you wear a bright red shirt to
vote”, which made them all a look a little nervous. I said not
to worry, I would never wear a bright red shirt with my red hair, and
explained that it was my brother in law, not me, who had to vote topless.
They still looked a little wary, either because they were not as dedicated as they claimed in their quest to find creative ways to get young people out to vote, or because they were trying to figure out if I knew I was wearing a red shirt for this entire conversation.
It turns out I have lots to say about politics. I am long on creativity, and short on ability to recognize that I am new and so I should not always be telling everybody what to do.
Me: I have decided what the main message behind our campaign should be.
Political Person: Um, that’s nice. Would you mind also entering this
data into this spreadsheet.
Me: Oh sure! I am very flexible.
Me: Done! Also, I may have redone the data entry and storage system.
Political Person: Um…
Me: It is much better now that it is working my way. Much more
efficient. I have two years in Computer Science, so I am good with
this stuff. Well, it was really more like one year because I failed
out… Actually I have only passed the one computer science class. But
if you need someone to write something in Turbo Pascal, I can do it.
Fortunately, they have hired the World’s Most Patient Volunteer
Coordinator. Also, she likes cookies, so I have a system where I say
“I changed everything even though I am new here and don’t know what
I’m doing I hope that’s okay” and then I stuff a cookie in her mouth
before she can answer.
It could become a little awkward, because Ryan is kind of campaigning
on the idea of healthy societies and healthy people, and half of his
campaign staff may be in a diabetic coma three months into the
I have been helped along greatly in my adjustment by my friend who was
not a campaign manager for a US Senator. I don’t know what his real
job was, but I know he was not a campaign manager because that’s what I’d always call him and he’d correct me. His real title was something that started with
“policy”. I hope that is enough for you to go on, because I would
fall asleep partway through the explanation due to the fact that it
started with the world “policy”.
Gary: If you’re going to help with politics, you might need to
understand policy a bit more.
Me: Oh, I am learning. We released our economic policy today. You
know how our province is in a boom? And everything is going great
because of all the natural resources we’re mining and there’s money
everywhere? Well, Meilinomics, as I like to call it, involves aiming
for a bloom rather than a boom–a slow growth that involves using the
revenue from our natural resources wisely to nurture future growth.
Seeing the economic growth not as an end in itself, but as a tool for
Gary: Wow, you really learned a lot today.
Me: I had eaten a lot of cookies, so I had a lot of energy. I folded
a lot of pamphlets really fast, and I did data entry, and I read the
policies, and I had a great day until I ran out of cookies and kind of
fell asleep on the desk in a puddle of my own drool. But it was good
until I crashed.
When it comes to economic policy, I like to learn by doing.
Maybe I should try switching to carrot sticks. They are healthy. And orange.