Yeats is credited with the lines, "A statesman is an easy man, he tells his lies by rote. / A journalist invents his lies, and rams them down your throat. / So stay at home and drink your beer and let the neighbors vote."
Members of Drinking Liberally, a new and growing grassroots movement, might agree with the first two verses, but their collective identity puts them in diametric opposition to the last.
Drinking Liberally's Web site describes the group as "An informal, inclusive weekly Democratic drinking club," but this is more than a few buddies getting together for a weekly pint. DL boasts "64 communities (chapters, sort of) in 31 states plus D.C." And the list of names associated with the founding and running of the group looks more like the roster of a political action committee than a nationwide drinking club.
It was founded by Justin Krebs and Matthew O'Neill, after the two collaborated on "Speak Up New York" -- according to DL's Web site, a "2002 state-wide youth civic engagement tour that turned into a program for New York state's PBS affiliates." "Speak Up," Krebs notes, "won special commendation from the Society of Professional Journalists."
Krebs also co-founded Cosmopolity ("an online calendar of social-political events that serves as a gateway into political action") and has worked for Senator Hillary Clinton.
O'Neill is an Emmy award-winning journalist and filmmaker. He produced Bridge-to-Baghdad, a "live dialogue between Iraqi and American youth." His "Access Democracy" won Emmys for youth and political programming in 2002, and he is fresh off a stint in Venezuela on a Pew Journalism Fellowship.
The Drinking Liberally Webmaster is the founder of IPac, a watchdog political action committee protecting citizens' rights online. The Drinking Liberally national liaison is a coordinating member of Amnesty International, and their communications liaison served as national coordinator of "Swing the State."
Yet the club itself was born humbly, out of a feeling all liberals, progressives and even some Republicans can share: that in 2003, "the politicians, press and public were giving conservative cons a free pass." Drinking Liberally began, write its founders, "as one part support group and one part strategy session."
It now serves an additional purpose. Aside from giving lonely progressives something to do on Thursday nights, it brings liberals together and shows them that all is not lost, and that they don't have to go all the way to New York or San Francisco to find another of their species. This is what makes a powerful political base; a common cause, an awareness of strength and friendship.
For a list of Liberal Drinkers near you or to start your own chapter, go to www.drinkingliberally.org.
Women's Action for New Directions (WAND) isn't new to the political battlefield. Formerly Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament, the group formed in response to the terrifying arms climate of the 1980s and since 1982 has taken on causes large and small to promote peace, justice, equality and freedom.
WAND is a political paradox in the best sense. Though supported by superstars like Helen Caldicott (WAND's founder) and Meryl Streep, and with the stated goal of redirecting "federal budget priorities away from the military and toward human needs," WAND has remained intensely grassroots and local in its philosophy. And through sheer numbers and force of will, it has drawn the attention and support of serious political players.
"Today," their Web site proclaims, "WAND is well known as a force to be reckoned with: professional, knowledgeable, relentless."
WAND is preparing to demonstrate in New York as world leaders gather to review the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). They offer the following options for readers looking to get involved:
To help build the May 1 mobilization:
To endorse the May 1 demonstration for global nuclear disarmament, email email@example.com
or call (212) 726-9161;
To get involved in planning and outreach, join the May Day 2005 committee by sending a blank email to MayDay2005firstname.lastname@example.org;
Organize buses from your region; go to New York May 1!
Visit www.abolitionnow.org and www.unitedforpeace.org for updates;
To contact the WAND national field office to find out what's happening in your area, call 404-524-5999 or email email@example.com.
Let us know about a group or individual that is making a difference. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a note to Charles Cullen, Progressive Populist, PO Box 487, Storm Lake, IA 50588.