Last night I went to a candidate forum for Pittsburgh city democratic candidates run by the ShadysideDems. It was fascinating to hear about so many issues I don’t even think about (who the judge magistrate for my ward is, whether the city controller is pro-life, how much the County Executive makes) and some I did not even think I could influence (making PortAuthority better, getting us more bike trails, having police brutality stopped). The empowerment was scintillating; the speeches were–as perhaps they must be–mostly boring.
Watching the debate for city council District 2, I had an itty-bitty epiphany. Those people on the stage, talking about how many lanes the bridge has and which bus lines must be dropped, they are my people. They are people who show up; who ask tight questions; who give 4.5 hours of their Saturday evenings to their communities. While I didn’t feel entirely welcome, I am registered in California and get out of Pittsburgh as often as possible, I appreciated the diversity of people who reached out to me.
I also made some progress on my sort of secret project. I don’t know if I will attend one of these events in Pittsburgh again, but I am sure I will in whatever community I choose to make my longer-term home. I don’t think I can afford not to.
“Liberalism is, I think, resurgent. One reason is that more and more people are so painfully aware of the alternative.”–John Kenneth Galbraith, New York Times, 8 October 1989