We came. We saw. We kicked it's ass!- from Ghostbusters
As some of you may have already heard, the Massachusetts Democratic Party adopted a resolution to oppose “the legalization of slot machines and any similar efforts to promote addictive and predatory gambling as a means of raising public revenues” at it's convention this Saturday in Springfield.
This momentous development didn't occur overnight, and in fact actually began several months ago.
Across the State, brilliant debates were raging on various democratic forums, bloggers blogged and the issue was never allowed to die. Democrats were becoming educated. We went where they went. Handing them information, talking to them on-line and in groups and one on one, discussing, debating, collecting signatures, raising awareness, changing minds, being there. When the governor held public forums across the State to find out what was on our minds – we told him.
We didn't know what to expect going into the convention. Anyone who's ever come out to protest or rally against casinos or slots knows how "fun" it can be to find oneself debating this complicated issue with someone who won't listen, or thinks they know everything, or believes gambling revenue is the modern day equivalent of manna from heaven. And sometimes they're not very nice.
And yes, we encountered that in Springfield and elsewhere. But for the most part, the Democratic delegates were polite - and most importantly, willing to listen. Even better – many delegates were also willing to pick up the gauntlet for the cause and collect signatures themselves. More signatures than were necessary were collected to pass the resolution. Our table at the convention always had a crowd – and we didn't even have free pins or t-shirts. People who noticed our shirts with the CasinoFreeMass logo often approached us to express their support.
And you probably won't believe this - but I shook the Governor's hand. He was very pleasant - and went on to give a terrific speech - in which he did not mention casinos. I do hope the governor will reverse his position on casinos. We can keep our fingers crossed.
There were low points. Members of our coalition were blocked from speaking at an AFL-CIO meeting where casino interests were given the floor to make typically flashy presentations with lots of misleading information (hey - sort of like human slot machines.) As usual, delegates were presented with all the benefits, but none of the costs. Casino wonderland.
But, since we are so often flooded with stories in the media which suggest there is no support for our cause – it was incredibly invigorating to be among all those folks from across the State who feel as we do - and most of these people have never been threatened with a casino in their backyard. It was a good day to be a Democrat.
The brightest part about this resolution is that now we can have an actual debate about predatory gambling – what it is and why we, as a party should not promote it as a source of revenue. And that debate is what we need. Because, just as many of us discovered two years ago, the more you learn about this issue – the more you find yourself opposing it.
This was an amazing team effort. So many people helped in ways both big and small.
Most notably, Bob Massie, Tom Larkin, Michael Falcone, Sue Tucker, Leo Maley, Ryan Adams, Kathleen Norbut, and our own Jessie Powell, put a lot of time and energy, creativeness - and some serious tenatiousness - into it. There are other folks I'm sure I am forgetting.
I'd also like to personally thank my fellow refugees from the Middleboro casino debacle, Judy, Frank, Jessie, Jacquie, Kim and Carl, who sacrificed their mornings, afternoons and evenings to come out and help when I asked them. Most importantly, they brought their two-years worth of knowledge and experience with them to share with others. I know a few of them probably didn't believe me when I told them how important our efforts would be down the road, but they did it anyway. Thanks for keeping the faith, guys.
On Saturday, as the resolution was being debated on the convention floor, Frank and I were on the Mass Pike, headed back home, when my phone rang. I had a text message - “We did it!” - it read.
We sure did.