Yesterday I arrived home from the 2008 Frank Church Banquet, the annual fundraiser for the Idaho Democratic Party. Accompanied by a round of IDP meetings, training, candidate introductions, and just a great time for seeing old friends and meeting new ones, the FCB has, for a second year, been a fun event for me. This year was especially great because the keynote speaker was Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of the dailykos. And just as great, I met even more of my fellow bloggers, and, needless to say, I had a wonderful time. Serephin, from 43sb has all the evidence, taking at least 10,000 photos over the course of the weekend. Okay, maybe it was only 1,000.....
Arriving on Friday evening (I had to teach in the afternoon), I came in on the tail end of the Canyon County event at the Doubletree, the place where all meetings and festivities took place. Having only that evening free to see my friend, Joanna, I met her at the bar and numerous friends joined us. We had a great time with plenty of discussion, before retiring for a long Saturday.
Saturday began with meeting Keith Roark, the new IDP chair. He seems very well organized, efficient, politically capable and smart. I look forward to his presence as IDP chair. Next came some training for central committee members, followed by lunch. THEN, one of my favorite people, Parag Mehta of the DNC, gave a presentation. He is so smart, articulate, humorous, and engaging, I cannot imagine how anyone wouldn't be inspired by him. I was joined by some early-arriving bloggers, including Markos, mcjoan, and the Red State Rebels blogmother.
Finally, the evening began with a silent auction, no-host bars, and candidate host areas. Then into the banquet for lots of inspirational speeches, food, the keynote speaker, live auctions, and the after-parties. For an anthropologist like myself, it was great ceremony with all the essentials of ritual.
The banquet room was decorated with symbols of the party: photos of our great, past leader, Frank Church, for whom the banquet was named. The walls were adorned with photos of Frank Church, as were each of the tables, reminding us all of who we are as Democrats. In speeches we honored our past icons/heroes with descriptions of what they did and analogies and metaphors of how they affected our own lives (think of Amy's Little Red Wagon speech). One of our past/still living heroes even appeared in a candidate's video. Our recent chair, Richard Stallings, was honored in speech before being called to speak himself. He and Governor Andrus should thank God they live in the US instead of Africa where they might be considered members of the walking dead.... People took part in sharing ceremonies by recalling to mind past group memories, and bringing us to the present with the same shared food. We bestowed gifts upon each other in the terms of auctions, and the presentation of a large check from Quanah Spenser of the Coeur d'Alene tribe to the Idaho Democratic Party. Such "gifts" promote the community as a whole. Our place as parts of this whole community were defined not only by our own tales of perseverance, but through our guest, keynote speaker, Markos, as well. He reminded us that Idaho Democrats are like an endangered species in a swarm of Republican rulers and its our tenacity and desire to endure that has allowed us to survive, and now, even prosper. He also bought the symbolic, auction item: the dated Andrus jacket which allowed Markos to require all other members of this tribe to wear this symbolic jacket during their own presentations, thus invoking a shared symbolic past. This helped the numerous, Idaho Democratic communities to feel not like separate parts but members of a larger whole. Through this ceremonial occasion we become a community whose sum is greater than its individual parts. Finally, at the end of promoting this whole community of kindred Democratic spirits, we finally allowed the whole community to disperse into its separate parts until the next ceremonial occasion. We did this by separating into smaller groups who continued to celebrate the values of the larger whole, whether in the bar, on the dance floor, in small discussion groups, and so forth.
The only aspect of this occasion that seemed to be passed over was the celebrations of the youth and all that is new. Well, we had Markos as the keynote speaker but then nobody really mentioned our own Idaho bloggers..... But perhaps that wasn't so important because the bloggers have their own clear voice.
This blogging voice became apparent the next morning when we all met for coffee at the IDP headquarters. In a short discussion that mentioned blogging, who we all are, some of what we are about, questions we had for Markos, and finally, our appreciation of Markos's attendance at this event, we headed back to our own individual worlds to once again share ourselves with the blogging community.