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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008

Politics Over Pints

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Around 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month, the Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave., plays host to the local chapter of Drinking Liberally. Jason Haas, head liberal, kindly provides details.

What is Drinking Liberally?
Drinking Liberally is an informal social club where people can come and talk politics over beer. It isn't a book club and we don't have a formal agenda or speakers. We meet friends, new and old, vent our frustrations, and hang out in an environment where it's not taboo to talk politics. It’s been used by the liberal community as the wonderful networking opportunity that it is.

How was this started?
Back in 2003, some people in New York City, of all places, felt that they were lacking a place they could go to talk their politics and beliefs and have a beer at the same time. Drinking Liberally was thus born and, thanks to the Internet, the idea spread—if not like wildfire, then at least like a brush fire. There are now [more than] 260 chapters in 50 states and around the world.

What kinds of people attend?
All kinds of people: Libertarians, conservatives, lefties, etc. During the 2006 election cycle, we had a lot of candidates coming to Club Garibaldi, which was our meeting place at the time. Mayor Barrett came once, and state Rep. Jon Richards, as well as County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic, were frequent visitors. I conned a few other candidates into joining us, including Phil Chavez, who is now a Circuit Court judge in Milwaukee. And we’re open-minded, so we don’t mind if people of differing opinions show up… I find the more rewarding conversations are sometimes with the people I don’t necessarily agree with.

What can people expect at one of these events?
They can expect to see the face of the vast left-wing conspiracy, which is a lot of really cool, smart people hanging out, talking with one another, having fun, and drinking beer. Bars are inherently democratic spaces. People come and go, randomly start talking to one another, and from there it’s up to them where the conversation goes. As the presidential election nears, I have a hunch we’ll be seeing Obama organizers—and they’re quite welcome here. It’s conversation at a bar; it can be anything from current candidates to some policy matters to the weather to job woes to relationship woes—just friends catching up with old friends.

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