By Linda Yoder, LWV of Morgantown/Monongalia County
Never in my dreams, in my forty years of passion for the League of Women Voters, did I imagine myself holding up a huge “West Virginia” sign and speaking for sixty brief seconds about the West Virginia League I am proud of. But it happened in June in Washington, DC at the LWVUS convention, and I will be forever grateful to members for sending me as a delegate.
I still had so much to learn about the way the League works: makes decisions, apportions its money, chooses issues for study, lobbies on the hill. The way it tries to listen to every voice. The way it is trying to grow the League. The trust in the voter. The vision for the future.
I was lucky to be invited by Diana Haskell, our Ruth Shur Fellow who keeps track of activities in West Virginia, to stay in her home in Bethesda, along with a Member at Large from Hampton, Virginia. The three of us talked League morning and evening. Diana’s heart for the League, and the way she devoted her energies to mentoring other members, impressed me deeply. As did her husband’s willingness to drive us into DC early every morning. I found out that caucuses are the way to learn a lot about an issue in a short amount of time, and caucuses sometimes started at 7:30 am or went on to 10:30 pm. I chose caucuses on health care reform, actions in response to the Citizens United decision, and a proposed Department of Peace, for example. I got in on workshops for newcomers to convention, on using social media, and on growing the League. As a coach, I was able to attend a lunch in honor of coaches where we learned to know other coaches and gain a wealth of new ideas. As a delegate, I was able to vote, and one of our proposed studies failed by only THREE votes, proving what we all know, that every vote is important.
I got to laugh through the Capitol Steps, listen to Eric Holder let us know how it felt to be under attack, be encouraged by Kathleen Hall Jamieson and her flackcheck.org (go there and learn how you can combat false advertising on behalf of political candidates), be in awe of Eleanor Holmes Norton who has long been a hero for me.
I felt genuinely fortunate to have this responsibility, and I only hope that many of you can go to convention in Texas in 2014. There will be many more battles to be won!