It's not easy being blue. I am in a grocery store wearing my tee shirt that says "Obama" in huge letters and then, "this time I want a smart president." For every twenty five people that sneer at me after reading the shirt, one will do this -- and this is a typical encounter with a fellow democrat: a lady is walking toward me. As she gets close, she leans in a little toward my ear. She does not stop, she does not even slow down. As she goes by I hear her whisper, "I LOVE your shirt." That's what we do. We whisper.
I work in a building with ninety other adults. After ten years, I have identified five other Democrats. I volunteer about twenty five hours a week for a local charity and work closely with about twenty other nice people. I am the only Democrat except for my husband and son. You can imagine how excited we were to hear about a debate watch party at a movie theater in Lewisville, Texas, our suburb of Dallas with a population of about 92,000. The event was hosted by the Southern Denton County Democrats, formerly the Flower Mound Democrats, founded in 2003. SoDeCo is a Political Action Committee and social club that organizes volunteers and fundraising events for the democratic party in north Texas. Unlike the old established yellow dog groups of my youth, where the members were from families of proud Democrats that went back to the depression, this group sprung up in an affluent area where democrats are scarce and do not advertise the fact. This particular group has worked for its legitimacy. It was first thought to be a diversion for the rich and bored housewives of suburban Dallas, and the centerpiece book club did not help that perception. That general misconception has dissolved over the last four years, however, with the groups' coalescence into a real voice for area Democrats through fierce support of local Democratic candidates, fundraising, volunteer organizing and pulling in the rank and file democrats that have for so long felt like tiny blue dots in a red sea. And while they present themselves in a professional and business like way, they are a warm and friendly group that genuinely encourage and welcome fellow Democrats into the fold.
Julie Malcom, host and event organizer, summed up the group's expectations for the night, saying, "We're looking forward to a lively night of cheering with lots of newly discovered Democratic neighbors." That being the criteria, the event was a huge success. There was much hollering at the screen from an obviously informed group; moans when Senator McCain said things that struck us as ludicrous and lots of cheers for Senator Obama, especially when he spoke of ending our involvement in Iraq. The audience was as diverse as this country. Young, old, white, black, buttoned up and hippie types and everything in between were represented. People seemed charged up and full of hope and energy after the debate. Most stopped to buy a t-shirt or yard sign. No whispering.
To the surprise of many, the venue was too small. Organizers reported 160 watched the debate while 40 more were turned away due to "seating limitations and fire restrictions" Yes! In Texas! Who'd have thought? It's lonely being a democrat in Texas. It was so much fun to have people sitting in front of you turn around and just start talking about things you were just thinking and feeling. People behind leaning forward and agreeing. I could not bring myself to ask another person why they were there. We were all there for the same reason. To be able to say what we think without being judged. Not in a whisper. Right outloud. Strange but fun, indeed.
I have lots of bumper stickers that say meaningful and funny things. The blue Obama 08 is the first one I ever put on my car. I am tired of whispering. The Southern Denton County Democrats will host another debate watch party Thursday and I will be there. I will invite my fellow workers and bring my family. It is so nice knowing there are people out there trying to make being blue a little easier.