Some of the folks I work with have been grumbling ever since a certain day in November when all our hopes were dashed. Well, not quite, because the Colorado legislature is now controlled by the Democrats, and we're sending a Dem to the Senate to replace an outgoing Repub. Still, the thought of 4 more years of the Bush mis-Administration had us crying in our beers.
A fellow I'll call "Bill" decided that enough was enough, he wanted to DO something, so he invited a few of us to his house for a snacks, beer, and "we need to talk" party. I'm being careful with names here because most of us are either gov't. employees or gov't. contractors, and we must tread very carefully when political activity is involved. With coworkers and significant others combined, we had about 18 people.
A bit about demographics: We are 99% caucasian, with one lovely African American woman, roughly even in male-female distribution, and range in age from late 20s to mid-50s. We all have jobs, many of us in IT, and most of us have at least some college. Our group did not have representatives from the Hispanic or student population in town. Only 3 of the group said they are church-goers, and 3 identified themselves as athiests. Four people identified themselves former Republicans who were abandoned by their own party with the religious right usurped it. The rest said they've been left-leaning all their lives. Importantly, almost everyone said that before this election, they were politically indifferent, but not any more. For several, this was the first election for which they ever gave money, worked in a campaign office, or canvassed.
- We all agreed it was nice to spend an evening where we could say out loud all those liberal, politically incorrect things we can only think during the day.</l>
- We also all agreed that we don't want to lose the political interest and momentum we each built up, and really want to do something to make a difference.
- Most agreed that the DNC is completely out of touch and wouldn't know the real power of grassroots organizing if it ran over them with a truck. Sure, we got 20-30 emails from the DNC, but only because they wanted money. Occasionally they asked for time and effort, but mostly just money. All the DNC seemed to think that local people (grassroots) are good for is money and legwork, but god forbid they should ask us about issues, strategy, or ways to effectively spend their resources in our communities.
- About 75% of us agreed that after two national elections where "go to the center" has failed as a strategy, we really need to try something new. The other 25% wasn't so sure that liberal-left policies would convince moderates to vote against the status quo. We all agreed that the DNC and the Kerry campaign pissed away some very rich opportunities to hit Bush and the Republicans in their myriad soft spots. As one of us said "The Democrats had such juicy material to work with, and what was their message? That they'd do what the Republicans are doing, only differently."
- My pet peeve, that the Dems have GOT to learn how to frame the issues, got good response. We agreed that we need ten positive, liberal points for a platform or agenda that we start selling now, not 3 months before the mid-term elections. Whatever else you may rightly say about Gingrich, the "Contract with America" was a genius ploy, and we can learn from it.
- About half of us felt strongly that the Republicans could implode with internal squabbling if the right wedge issue comes along that polarizes the freeper wingnuts against the moderates, and we shouldn't pass up any opportunity to help them find this wedge issue.
- The state Democratic Committee was and is almost completely invisible to us. Of course, most of us haven't been politically active, so it could be we just don't know what to look for. On the other hand, several of us were at least aware of the county Dem committee, because they sponsored events and used their offices for "canvassing central" during the election.
- We're going to create our own email list, which should be pretty easy considering the high percentage of geeks in our group.
- We want to continue our meetings, because we really enjoyed this one. We'll hold another in January, and we'll each try to bring someone new with us. Yeah, it'll be crowded, but worth it.
- We're going to send "envoys" to other local groups, e.g., the MoveOn.org group, the "Veterans for Kerry" group that will have to change their name pretty soon, the DFA folks if we can find them, and to the "Democrat Breakfast" meeting the local county Dem Committee hosts. We want to find out what the other groups are doing and tell them about ours.
- It occurred to us after several beers to worry about FBI or HS surveillance, but by then it was too late; we'd already said too much.
The loose plan for our January meeting is to report back on what we've learned about the local and state official Democratic organizations, and about other liberal groups we can find. We also want to explore what we can do for the 2006 and 2008 elections, including looking for viable Democratic candidates.
If anyone is still awake after reading all this, thanks for your interest. I'll probably post another diary after the next meeting.
+ + + That crazy neighbor, you know, the one with all those cats. + + +