Tonight's emergency meeting of the GC Women's Republican Club will grapple with lack of support
When the Genesee County Women's Republican Club convenes its emergency meeting tonight to discuss its anemic body politic, Melissa Haacke will seek guidance and direction, input and feedback.
The chairwoman and other members of the board need to know what the 65 dues-paying members (at least on paper) want to see happen this year. Are there changes that ought to be made? What can be done to boost participation? Do you know what the club's purpose is?
It's aim is to encourage candidates to run for office; help them get endorsed; and support their candidacy for office.
But that is getting harder to do.
The notice sent out last week about the 6:30 meeting at Oakfield's Community & Government Center cited low attendance at last year's spring breakfast and the summer cancellation of the Lucky Numbers basket raffle fundraiser at T.F. Brown's because of lack of interest.
"It is becoming more and more difficult to continue this Club with little to no participation or support," the notice said.
Haacke knows that problem is not uncommon for volunteer groups, particularly with people's tight schedules, regardless of whether the groups are focused on partisan politics, civic or religious purposes, sports or hobbies.
"We've had the same five people, with one or two migrating in or out for the last 10 years," Haacke said, an untenable track.
The echo chamber and self-interest bubble perpetuated and fostered by social media is perhaps part of waning real-world participation in many groups, she acknowleged.
"People are at one end of the spectrum or the other," Haacke said.
And fewer young people are taught about the virtues of volunteerism, she said, and many equate volunteering with punishment: wrongdoers are often given community service in lieu of a harsher penalty.
The irony is that Genesee County is solidly red territory in a blue state, and the GC Women's Republican Party is having trouble pulling off a breakfast when Democrats and Progressives say it's "standing room only" at their events these days.
Asked if Trump's treatment of women or his language concerning them is causing Republican females to go missing in action, Haacke said unequivocally and 100-percent "No. Trump is not a factor."
Any awkwardness in his oratory is because he's "not a politician" but "he tells the truth."
"If we want to get to where we need to be as a Christian and God-loving people, we need to support Trump and the Republican candidates," Haacke said.
Naturally, Erica O'Donnell, chairwoman of the City of Batavia Democratic Committee, sees things differently, but she does sympathize.
"Political or not, all organizations struggle with participation at times, with the busy lives we lead," O'Donnell said. "But we decided to come out of the closet and do more community involvement -- be in parades, go to community events, be at Picnic in the Park (for the 4th of July).
"We are the party of inclusion and acceptance. We should have a big tent."
O'Donnell said that women's participation increased in Democratic and Progessive politics here and elsewhere after Bernie Sanders lost the primary and after the 2016 election.
And O'Donnell thinks Trump is not resonating with a growing number of Republican women, so they are sitting on the sidelines.
"The way he treats women, the way he talks about them," O'Donnell said. "I don't want my daughters exposed to that."