The conventional wisdom among young Ann Arbor progressives is that the last few months have been good for their local movement. To many Michigan residents, a progressive revival in Ann Arbor might seem like a revival of the profit motive at Wal-Mart – utterly redundant. In most of the state, the city has a reputation of being a liberal stronghold. Its association with the University only strengthens that connection in many Michiganders’ minds.
But many young Ann Arborites think the people who run the city see the University’s students as a threat to their property values, not the source of their town’s vibrancy. As these progressives tell the story, things may have begun to change this summer. In a piece in the summer Michigan Daily, the Washington-based former Ann Arbor blogger and former Michigan Daily writer Rob Goodspeed wrote, “Conditions are ripe for a perfect storm that could revolutionize Ann Arbor politics.”
This summer saw the near victory of a student candidate for City Council in the Democratic primary. A group called the New West Side Association also formed to represent renters’ interests in the city. In addition, in June 2004, a website called arborupdate.com launched, and it has quickly become one of the best sources of information for all things Ann Arbor. Now, these like-minded townies have their own quasi-social, drinking club.
Two weeks ago, an Ann Arbor chapter of a nationwide confederation called Drinking Liberally had its first gathering at the Ann Arbor Brewing Company. (The next get-together is tonight at 8 at ABC.) Drinking Liberally’s website www.drinkingliberally.org calls the group “an inclusive Democratic drinking club.”
According to the website, there are 96 chapters in 39 states and Washington, D.C. About 20 people, mostly Rackham twentysomethings, showed up at ABC, and every one of them was still a little miffed that John Kerry isn’t the president.
Drinking Liberally isn’t intimately tied to the New West Side Association or Arbor Update, but it’s similar because it is largely a reaction to conservative progress