Trump spurred new V.I.D. prez to get involved with club

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Members of Village Independent Democrats in the state Legislature on Jan. 15 as part of the True Blue NY effort. Photo courtesy V.I.D.
Members of the Village Independent Democrats political club traveled up to Albany to lobby in the state Legislature on Jan. 15 as part of the True Blue NY effort. David Siffert, V.I.D.’s new president, is third from right. Others include from left, Sara Kimbell and Livvy Mann, as well as Jonathan Geballe, fourth from left, and former V.I.D. President Tony Hoffmann, second from right. Photo courtesy V.I.D.

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA | There’s new blood in the Village Independent Democrats.

After Donald Trump’s election in 2016, a wave of newly involved politicos started activist groups, joined Democratic clubs, and began a surge of political involvement during the “off years” between campaigns when attention typically wanes.

David Siffert, 34, the new V.I.D. president, was a part of that wave.

Just after the presidential election, he and his friends held meetings in his one-bedroom East Village apartment to work on actions, like sending postcards to local politicians. These grassroots meetings had a similar feeling to those of the new Indivisible Project.

Though initial involvement faded out, Siffert and others had an idea for creating an activist-oriented app. That, in turn, led him to Ben Yee, a candidate for New York City public advocate and state committeeman for the 66th Assembly District. The app never got off the ground, but soon afterward, in spring 2017, Siffert joined V.I.D. He was elected president of the club last December with the support of 39 of the 42 members who voted.

“Like many people, post-Trump’s election, I realized that I needed to be doing more,” Siffert told The Villager. He was speaking while en route to Albany with True Blue NY, a grassroots group that supported candidates running against Independent Democratic Caucus-aligned incumbents in the state Senate.

By day, Siffert works as a research coordinator at New York University’s School of Law’s Center on Civil Justice.

“We’re a small center, so a lot of our projects are attempts to make information available to others,” Siffert said. “The idea is to try to figure out what’s not working in the civil justice system and how to make it better.

“The way I put it, I’m a lot more interested in what the law should be rather than what the law actually says,” he said.

Siffert grew up Uptown in Morningside Heights and has lived in the Village now for about 12 years.

Though the Trump election solidified his political involvement, Siffert has always been engaged in politics in some way or another. When he was 16, he interned for Senator Chuck Schumer, and four years later, worked on John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004.

Before working at the Center on Civil Justice, the N.Y.U. School of Law alum previously worked as a civil litigator for Boies Schiller Flexner LLP and clerked for various state and federal judges.

Siffert doesn’t have any major new plans for the storied progressive club — he says it’s already an amazing club as is. But he would like to expand specific political actions, like postcard writing or busing up to Albany like the club’s recent effort with True Blue NY.

“An important way of keeping traditional Democratic clubs relevant in 2019 and beyond is to take a page from what a lot of activist organizations are doing and actually do the work,” he said.

“It’s the way forward for clubs to maintain real relevance,” he added. “I think a lot of the old-fashioned backroom stuff that clubs have done is somewhat unattractive to [newcomers]. … I think we as a club need to look at how best to actually be of help.”