Conventional Solutions

As it happens every leap year, we the people are being swept into the “Vote for me” vortex — like it or not — drawing us into a Ping-Pong match of speeches that can be both inspiring and discouraging. Democrats, Libertarians, Republicans, Reformists, Greens — both those who are registered and those who are not — are caught in the inescapable political riffraff that is plastered on car bumpers and T-shirts and in TV and radio commercials, yards, magazines, and newspapers.

While the Republican National Convention has passed, taking place in Philadelphia July 29 through August 3, the Democratic National Convention, which continues through August 17 in Los Angeles, is just now winding down. At both conventions, protestors have milled about sporting the appropriate signs outside while the delegates have milled about sporting the appropriate signs inside. And for all their scripted nature, the conventions might as well have been shot on the same movie set, with cue cards signaling the audience when to clap and when to boo.

Kansas Citians can join the fun of watching the final night of the DNC from the Democratic Headquarters of Kansas City on August 17. Participants can catch local legend Ida McBeth singing the national anthem before hearing Al Gore’s official acceptance speech. The speech will no doubt be somewhat like Bush’s acceptance speech in its promises to alleviate concerns about such issues as Social Security, welfare, education, health care, violence, and on and on — with rhetoric in place of real solutions.

After the last convention balloon has popped and the last streamer settles to the ground, the candidates begin their tours of the country, stopping at homeless shelters, union halls, and other places to which they won’t return until the next photo op. The voters, however, can go to those places anytime they want to help fulfill their candidates’ promises.

Some local Kansas City organizations where residents can volunteer their time are:

• Bridging the Gap, 816-561-1090

• Planned Parenthood, 800-230-PLAN

• Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, 816-931-4527

• Harvesters, 816-231-3173

• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City, 816-561-5269

• Human Equality through Legislation, Innovation, Organization, and Sensitiviy (HELIOS-KC), 816-483-1238

• Christmas in October, 816-531-5259

• City Union Mission, 816-474-9380, ext. 487

For more information on organizations that need your help, visit and click on the clubs and organizations link for more volunteer information.