H-F Area LWV President Erin Roeper and Secretary Maureen McSherry attended the League of Women Voters National Convention in Washington, D.C. from June 8-12. During these five days they joined over 750 LWV colleagues from 47 states and the Virgin Islands in participating in a variety of caucuses, workshops and plenary sessions which conducted the business of Program, Bylaws and budget decided by the delegates during this biennial convention. The theme of this year's convention was "Power the Vote."
An exceptional array of speakers not only applauded the League for its work, but also called upon the League to lead our communities out of the dysfunction that special interests and divided government have created. Among those outstanding speakers were Kathleen Hall Jamieson from the Annenberg School, political polster John Zogby, and the Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C. delegate to the House of Representatives), along with participating panelists political journalist Eleanor Clift, former Contressman Mickey Edwards from the Aspen Institute, and former FEC Chair Trevor Potter from the Campaign Legal Center. Attorney General Eric Holder's appearance on Monday, June 11, prompted an invitation for LWVUS President Elisabeth MacNamara to appear on MSNBC's Politics Nation with Al Sharpton.
LWVUS Advocacy Chair Judy Duffy reported to Convention on the League's work over the biennium on legislative issues, including Environmental Defense, Health Care Defense, Campaign Finance, and Voter Protection.
In addition to supporting a unified, organization-wide effort to overcome the impact of the Citizens United decision, delegates agreed to a concurrence on sentencing reform and to update the League's agriculture position. Recognizing the importance and success of the Membership and Leadership Development program, delegates invested just over $35,000 in themselves and their Leagues by contributing more than 200 percent of a challenge goal for that program at Convention. Finally, delegates approved the budget, which includes an investment in a modern constituent management database with the potential to knit the organization closer together to attract new members and donors for our cause.
On Saturday evening many of the delegates at the convention chose to see the Capitol Steps, a group of actors (many of whom have worked on Capitol Hill, some for Republicans and some for Democrats) who perform political musical satire. They kept the audience of 500+ in stitches with their timely skits.
While in D.C. Erin and Maureen also were privileged to be given a tour of the West Wing, arranged for them by H-F LWV members Bruce and Pat Hillstrom, whose son-in-law Denis McDonough (who personally conducted the tour) is the assistant to the U.S. National Security Advisor. What a thrilling experience it was to walk the halls of the West Wing, view the President's office (from the doorway, of course -- no stepping foot inside!), get pictures taken in the Press Room, and stand on the sidewalk beside the Rose Garden. With his 5-year-old on his shoulders (Denis gave up part of his Sunday afternoon with family so he brought one of his three children with him for the tour) , Mr. McDonough graciously told stories about the pictures we saw on the walls, explained what goes on in the West Wing, and answered our many questions. What a memorable hour!
As we "Leaguers" returned to our states and communities, we feel that Convention 2012 has given us new tools and energy to power our voices to Power the Vote this coming fall as well as to advocate on a variety of issues -- clean air, the Disclose Act, and protecting voters' rights. NOTE: LWV does NOT endorse candidates or political parties; instead, we work to educate and inform the public through encouraging informed and active participation in government, to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and we influence public policy through education and advocacy.
We welcome new members to our League. Additional information -- including a membership application form -- can be found on our website: http://hfarea.il.lwvnet.org/index.html. Please visit us soon!