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Below is a tale, its ending unwritten, of a Gate Crasher's tentative but persistent first steps toward real political power.

It's motivated by the belief that it is time to stop typing about how bad the Dems are and to do something about it -- to put my life where my sig line is and be the Democrat I want to see.

In the past months I have moved from political voyeur, reading blogs and being horrified by our nation's decline, to (small) money donor, and now to foot soldier in the battle.

But there's the hitch. The party is so dysfunctional that I'm having trouble even enlisting! Read more to hear what getting boots on the ground really takes and why my difficulty may be as inspiring as it is frustrating.

Updated to say: thanks to the commenters, the inspiration far outweighs the frustration. The comments include a collection of great tools for improving and taking over your local party.

Discovering how bad it really is: the bad news.

Part of my move to real involvement started out of curiosity. I had read once that the Republicans beat us in 2000 and 2004 partly because they had a much better machine, and used this new-fangled stuff like computers, e-mail, and the like.

In September, I ran an experiment. Went to the county Dem and GOP websites.

I found a form at the GOP site where I could check off boxes for what my skills were, how I would be willing to help, and enter other data. Within a day I was getting updates by e-mail on action items and meetings, calls for GOP volunteers. (They eventually dropped me. Must have looked up my party registration).

At the Dem site I had to dig a bit more and found an e-mail address. I replied to it. I heard nothing. Weeks and several more e-mails later I was on the Dem's e-mail list. I never heard from a person, but at least I got the occasional update.

Frustration Grows

In January, I resolved to get more heavily involved and had time to do so. So I went through the web info again and sent the following e-mail:

I am replying to the request on the website to volunteer for precinct work.

Here is what the website says:
 If you are not a member of your precinct organization and would like to be active, please contact us with your precinct's name (the school, church, or fire station where you vote), your name, and a contact number or email address.  We'll be pleased to have your precinct chair get in touch with you

Here is the requested info:

Precinct: Bethabara (I live at XXXXXXXXXXXX)
Name: XXXXXXXXXX
e-mail: XXXXXXXXX

I am excited about the party and Dean's efforts to build from the ground up. I have made a small donation to the DNC. I am looking over the various committees to see where I might be of most use, too. If someone knows which committees need the most help, let me know.

I never received a reply to that e-mail. Never. Nothing.

Houston, we have a problem!

I gave it a couple of weeks and was busy. But I persisted. I made my way to the local party HQ. A foot soldier should show up at the enlistment office, right?

My first trip, the office was closed. There had been mixed messages about new hours in an automated e-mail (I was still getting those). Oh well.

Second trip was a great success. I spoke to the one very welcoming woman there who confirmed that the party was in rough shape but she was excited about the training the DNC would do the next weekend for precinct captains and party leaders. She hoped they would attend (did not sound too confident about turnout). I told her I saw the info about that on the website but had to be out of town that weekend.

The woman looked up the name and contact information for my precinct captain and the head of the volunteers committee. I gave her my information and listed my skills (writing, research, debate).

Another week or so went by and I got a call from the 1st Vice Chair. Unfortunately we played phone tag until recently as I was out of town then she was on jury duty.

Meantime, I e-mailed the volunteer chair and the precinct captain:

My name is XXXXXX. I recently visited Dem headquarters in an effort to volunteer to become as active as possible in the local party.
Previous attempts to volunteer by sending e-mail to the suggested addresses on the county Dems website failed to elicit a response.
The woman working at HQ that day, XXXXXXX (forgive me if I am way off on the name) was very welcoming and gave me your e-mail addresses as points of contact.

I have been out of town (I travel many weekends as XXXXXXXX) so missed some of the recent precinct training and other meetings.

But I could attend the upcoming precinct meeting and would also be interested in discussing other ways my skills could be helpful.

Thank you in advance for your replies.

The volunteer chair said I would be welcome at a meeting  Feb. 22. No mention of nor question about how I might be of use. He is also President of Young Democrats of XXXX and they have a website with this on the front page:

The Young Democrats have kicked off their campaign to register Democratic voters for the 2004 election.

It gets worse.

The precinct captain said, Feb. 3, that she would let me know of the meeting time. The mainpage of the county Dem website says meetings are slated for Feb. 9. Six days out, the captain doesn't know??? Here is the info from the website:

The XXXXX County Democratic Party has set Thursday, Feb. 9, as the date for the 2006 Precinct meetings.  The early February date will give precincts an opportunity to hold another meeting before Feb. 21 if they do not have a quorum at the first meeting

Precincts that simply cannot hold a meeting on Feb. 9 may set another meeting date but they must notify party headquarters at XXXXXXX before holding the meeting.  Such precincts must also provide ample public notification such as a notice of the different date in a local newspaper.

At these meetings, precincts are to choose delegates to the county convention, elect interim officers where vacancies have occurred, and collect the $150 precinct dues.

Precincts are supposed to meet at their polling places, but they may meet in another location provided they give party headquarters prior notice and place a notice prominently at the voting site.

Surely I would hear from the captain soon. Guess what? Feb. 8 I sent another e-mail, to her home as she had suggested. No answer. My e-mail to her office tells the rest of the story of Feb. 9:

I tried your home email last night.

Is the Dem precinct meeting today/tonight?

If not, I can relax. If it is, where and when?

I REALLY, REALLY want to participate.

I tried other ways of finding this information, too.

I called party HQ today, no answer, no returned call. Message said open until 1pm.

I rushed down there but found the office closed and locked at 12:45.

Sorry to be a pest, but I hope you can understand how frustrating it is.

I received a reply that night, that I had not missed anything, and that she would get back to me by Saturday about place and time.

Meanwhile, I was closing in on the vice-chair contact. She had jury duty, but could be reached at home in the evening. I called and she said she was busy but would call me the next night, Friday.

So, like a dumbass, I waited by the phone Friday night. Nothing.

So I called the vice chair Saturday morning around 10. She knew me. I knew her. Her husband had a part in hiring me 21 years ago. She knew my job. She asked me can I write. Can I write? She asked me can I research. Can I research? Very strange. Anyhow, she promises she will find something for me to do to help someday. But I have not been so insulted in a long time.

Oh, and did I mentioned that she explained the office was closed Friday because they couldn't get the lock to work? I am not making any of this up.

Meanwhile, it is Saturday, the day the precinct captain will tell me when the meeting is. Or not.

So, Sunday afternoon, 12 hours ago, I asked again, and 8 hours later got this:

I have requested the use of the Demo Headquarters on February 20th, 2006. I expect to hear from them tomorrow (Monday).

Remember this from the website?

The early February date will give precincts an opportunity to hold another meeting before Feb. 21 if they do not have a quorum at the first meeting.

I guess she is super confident we'll have a quorum on the last day meetings are allowed under the rules. Forgive me if I don't share that confidence, but what do I know? I'm just a blogger.

Why I'm Enthused. This is all great news!

When people were writing diaries about quitting and forming third parties if the Dems didn't filibuster Alito I would reply with comments like this:

Jeers to the Democratic Party of the not too distant past that brought us to where we are today.

Cheers to the Democratic Part of today that will bring us to where we need to be in the not too distant future.

Jeers to instant gratification.

Cheers to the persistance of social movements that took decades to see success and those still struggling: anti-slavery, women's suffrage, civil rights, environmentalism, feminism, sexual orientation, and others ya'll can list.

And this:

To those who say, "If the Dems don't filibuster or do X or Y the right way this month, I'll not vote for them or join/start a new party or something.":

Listen, please:

   1. Today's party is not the party of next spring or next year. Being unhappy with what happens this week is being unhappy with what happened to get to this week: yesterday's party.

   2. The party is changing. How could you not have seen kos's posts on this subject, his posts on Dean, his book chapters?

   3. Dean is the chair. Howard Dean. The guy that has cajones and that is mocked by old-schoolers for the scream. The guy that says we're losing in Iraq. He is the CHAIR.

   4. Dean has a plan: training people down to the PRECINCT level. Rebuilding and repopulating the infrastructure of the party with me and you. The offices are already staffed and paid for in your county. All you gave to do is walk in the door.

   5. Today's precinct captain becomes tomorrow's alderman, next year's stathouse rep, etc. The future Senators you want to have the spine for filibustering come from today's new party members.

   6. Dean is raising cash (at record levels and in spite of campaign finance law changes that disadvantaged Dems more than the GOP) at record levels. The party's future cash source (small donor progressives) will be more and more influential because the party will literally not be able to afford to ignore us.

   7. It is much easier to take over the hollow shell of the Democratic party than it is to start a new one. The phone lines are there. Just get yourself on one end of it instead of having to get a new phone line, too.

Item 7 is why I'm psyched up. In the weeks since I wrote that comment I have found that it is more true than I ever knew.

I know how to get things done and I will succeed. I know how to have a functioning door lock, a functioning website, respond to e-mails, generate e-mail lists, return phone calls, and get people working.

I may have had some trouble with the enlistment office, but I can see a quick rise from foot soldier to captain. And I'll have more and more soldiers behind me.

Let's go, folks. The gates are rusty. We may not have to crash the gates, just apply a little WD-40 and open them. Mark Stoller's blurb for Kos's book says this:

"Crashing the Gate is the start of a conversation. It will unleash a torrent of stories about how badly the party has been managed, who's at fault, and why the Democratic Party keeps losing.

He has the tenses all wrong. The conversation is already happening and my story is unleashed before publication. And "keeps losing"??? Kept.

With Dean's spending plan, your help and mine, we will win and keep winning.

Just be the Democrat you want to see.

Cross-posted at Booman Tribune.

Originally posted to demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 06:08 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for tips, whether . . . (4.00)
    about crashing gates, or just a rating.

    I hope to really motivate people to do more.

    Be the Democrat you want to see.

    by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 06:12:31 AM PST

    •  Excellent Diary (4.00)
      I tried to post a call to action last week, and didn't get any traction... so it's very, very gratifying to see this get recommended.

      I think we need to hear more about what folks are doing in the field, share best practices, and give each other encouragement.

      The party infrastructure has been long neglected, and in places is barely there, or ineffectual, or starving for new blood.

      The folks on dKos can make a huge difference.

      Don't mourn: organize.

      by Malacandra on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:40:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No need to crash the gates..... (4.00)
        This is a brilliant diary. Thank you.

        From the sounds of it there may be no need at all - in many states - to crash the gates :

        I think whole sections of the wall itself have partially crumbled, and there are gaping holes in the tattered chainlink fence around back....

        Meanwhile the sentries have all abandoned their posts and gone to the mall to shop and eat pizza.

        •  Calcified Remains (none)
          In some places the Powers That Have Always Been are intractible, resistant to change and still exercising their cliqish power and control.  In these party offices it will truly take crashing the gates -especially because the sentries within are unwelcoming , uninformed and laconic.
          •  Mental breakdown imminent! (none)
            I have tried and tried to get inside and change things. But, there are so many petty power plays from insiders (who consistently L.O.S.E. local races, I might add) that it is causing me physical pain. I may sit out organized party activites for a couple of years. I don't want to, but the guy I had talked to about running against our county chair apparently took a new job, and can't be active now. (Or at least that's the line of crap I got.) sigh.......
      •  Super diary (4.00)
        Sorry I missed it last week.

        I quote your concluding paragraphs here for their eloquence and inspiration. You foreshadowed all that I and the commenters here are trying to say:

        It will not be easy: not at all. Your local Democratic organization is likely to be populated with cliques of people who are more invested in maintaining their petit fiefdoms than creating a Revolution in Democratic politics.  You will, on many occasions, wonder why you bother... why you need this aggravation. Some people will gladly smile at you as they twist the knife in.

        But not all of them will. Some will welcome you. Some will be willing to mentor you, if you are humble enough (and wise enough) to realize that you need to learn something about your local political landscape. We have natural allies out there... and we do have each other. And that's a lot.

        The thing is, to do this will not only take work, but courage.  And that's another function of leadership - to inspire us to find our own courage. It's easy to sit in front of our computers and attack Democratic Senators for not demonstrating the courage of our convictions. Which leaves it up to us to fight for what we believe in. That's our moral responsibility to ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, and our posterity.

        This is the fight of our lives. Our forebearers stormed the beaches at Normandy to preserve our liberties and a way of life that is slipping away from our grasp. Many, many of them gave their lives for their country.  All we are required to do is give a portion of our lives for ours.

        And our children will be paying for the despoiled land, the changed climate... the mountain of debt that will result from the ongoing scorched earth policies of the corporate Republicans.  

        To combat the willful destruction of our civil liberties, our privacy, our freedom and our environment... this is the challenge of our generation of patriots. Online activism is a wonderful tool... but more is required of us. Much more.

        The right wing is not going to disappear. One election, no matter how decisive, will not undo the years of damage done to our nation by the Bush administration and their sycophants. We need to repudiate the entire ideology of the right. We need to build infrastructure. We need to do it ourselves. And we need to do it now.

        Who's with me? I want to hear what you are up to in your local efforts to pick up the torch and carry it forward. Tell us your battle stories. Let's inspire each other.

        Let's be leaders.

        Be the Democrat you want to see.

        by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:50:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  People will probably welcome you (none)
          Most Democratic Comittee members are more than hapy to have someone help them.  Most of the time they are overworked and could really use the help you offer.
        •  working through candidates (none)
          check out the candidates you feel most closely represent what you want the Democratic party to be.

          The candidates have a functioning staff.

          This doesn't even have to be in your area.

          I live in Texas.

          I am volunteering for Bob Gammage who's running for TX Governor. I will be volunteering for Nick Lampson who will be running against Tom DeLay.
          I will volunteer for Wes Clark if he runs in 2008.
          I will volunteer for former Secretary James Webb who's running for the Senate in VA.
          etc

          Everything via computer and phone/cell phone.

          Go to the web site of the candidate you like, sign  up to volunteer - say what you can do - e.g. phone calling locally anytime or free minutes on cell phone.

          or there may be other stuff you can work on.
          Your time may be much more valuable than the dollars you give.
          Even a few hours contacting people can be very helpful.
          There's much work to do.

    •  Thank you for the diary ... (4.00)
      and remotivating me ...

      My County Democratic website still has the material for the 2005 elections ... with promises to add material for the 2006 election.  YEAH!!! Same message there for the past two months.

      My district's Democratic Party website frontpage has a note from May 2005.  The listed chair for the District is not the person listed as Chair by the County Party website.  But, the website does have a listing for a 21 February meeting with an actual location ... Now on my calendar (problem, as per your diary for other meetings, might be on work travel).

      Now, I've tried in the past to contact the previous chair.  Because of your diary, I've discovered that the County Party organization is now listing someone else as Chair (this is new since last time I checked -- back in about December).  Perhaps I can find out the 'truth' of this on 21 February ...

      I have been 'guerrilla' active -- writing LTEs, doing some highway blogging, and poking at the Republican elements in the community.  But, you have reenergized me to get back engaged with "Party" as opposed to candidates. ... Let us not 'take back' the Party but recreate it ...

      9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

      by besieged by bush on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:45:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The latest 2001 info (none)
        My town's DTC website is entirely information from 2001.  I tried contacting them using the email address on the website, and got the "mailer-daemon" stating that there is no such email account.  Checking the state party website for additional contact information provides me the same email address.
        •  a call or email to your state party (none)
          should fix that.  i say this knowing that i have a super responsive state party and fantastic state chair.

          so, i could be wrong.

          but they are required to have the most recent information and may can give you a scoop.

      •  Get elected to your County Party Committee (4.00)
        My recommendation is talk to your registrar of voters or state party and find out what is required to get elected to your county party central committee. Then put together a slate of progressives, encourage other people in the county to do the same, and then run for your county central committee. Yippee!!!
      •  Way to go! (none)
        I loved the comment downthread about the way to get elected being simply to show up at meetings.

        Anyone who has the energy to write LTEs and freeway blog can multiply their power by getting others to do it from withing the party.

        I think of this as subversive: we take over the party from within.

        Then you will have access to Op-Ed space, real billboards, and more!

        Be the Democrat you want to see.

        by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:44:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We have a great and active Democratic Party (none)
          in my county, but it is still a small group.   Some people are lucky enough to be retired or to have some free time and they run it.  We are far more fired up than the Rethugs.   But the truth is that the average person in this country has to work all the time just to survive and few people have the luxury of volunteering to do much of anything. So, you are absolutely right.  If you want to take it over, I'm sure you can.

          We have all sorts of progressives here (it's a college town) and because only the minimum  number of people show up at our precinct meetings, it's pretty easy to write progressive platforms.  Taking it over is the right idea. This works.  Our state party Chair is NOT the person the Governor wanted but the person WE wanted (I'm using "we" to mean progressive Dems throughout the state).

          Anyway, it only takes a few people who have some energy and are willing to lead to get other people fired up. Most people who have your experience give up. If you are in charge you can make sure they don't have that experience.

          Good luck.

    •  Recommended! (4.00)
      Now, if we can only get my favorite ACC basketball team to start winning!  :)

    •  Thank you, demondeac. (4.00)
      Great diary.  All that sad disorganization is weirdly inspiring, in a way that is slightly different from what you mention:  if  in the midst of all this business of empty, AWOL precinct organizations, the Democrats still have the numbers to render Bush's mandate questionable, then think what they can accomplish with all hands on deck!

      And this site and others are evidence that people are pissed off enough to make that happen.

      This is topical, because I had a similar experience recently.  I landed an interview at a university in the midwest, and was concerned about the location, given that it was pretty much smack in the middle of that giant red blob that extends from the eastern border of California to western Pennsylvania.

      So, as a kind of litmus test for whether I'd find that location liveable, I googled several sites on local politics, state demographics, etc.  Two of the sites I checked out were the state republican site and the state Dem site.  The Republican site was slick, if cheesy, and had all kind of action items up that were pretty much up to date.  The Dem site looked like somebody's personal webpage, and its last posting was may of 2005.  I know that the numbers aren't likely there at present, but this is all the more reason to get on the case.  Why let Republicans walk away with that state?   That region -- as Thomas Frank points out -- has a very powerful progressive legacy, which has only recently been ceded to the right as cultural wedge issues have taken the fore.

      This is partly about organization.  There are progressives in every region in the country, and even if they're not in the majority, there is much to be gained by giving local Republicans a run for their money.  That's campaign money that won't be spent backing up their colleagues in swing states, it's money they'll have to spend justifying themselves and being defensive, rather than plowing ahead with an unchallenged agenda.

      So, by all means, get behind the phones.  Be patient.  And remember that Republicans have to spend enormous amounts of time, money, energy, and brain cells trying to justify a fundamentally unsound agenda.  This isn't to say the Dems don't need to develop an agenda of their own; this is clearly one of the crucial messages of the last few years.  But when good, intelligent, open-minded people begin to step up to the plate, they will have the advantage of having reason on their side.

      Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought. -- Milan Kundera

      by Dale on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:25:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You say (4.00)
        this is partly about organization.  Absolutely true.  Further, it's about consistency, determination and follow-through.

        The Democrats have always, since I've been a voting-age Democrat (1960), had a problem with continuing to be actively involved after the election du jour.  Even when they lose, but ESPECIALLY if they win, they let down their guard, stop working the grassroots, maybe stop working altogether until the next emergency (i.e., the next time the Republicans win) - just go away and party over the win or lick their wounds after the loss.

        Meanwhile, the Republicans organize, motivate, and keep slogging along - involving their grassroots, setting up organizational meetings, creating think tanks, lending support downstream to the locals, updating their websites - those no-fun tasks it takes to keep a machine running.

        Democrats HAVE to keep on keeping on, through wins and losses alike, through all elections, from school board to U.S. President.  The old-line democrats won't do it without new, fresh blood in the party.  People like me have been demoralized, frustrated and left with no support system too many times to try again without younger, more motivated people to keep the ball rolling after the election results are announced.
         

        (-5.25, -7.95) "Self-respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price." - Joan Didion

        by SueDe on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 12:10:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Timing (none)
          May well account for the relative lack of response some of us have received.

          The regulars may be resting up, thinking they'll get hold of us "when the time comes."

          My notion is that the time is now. Yours is that it is always time.

          We need to build the machine when it is not election time so that the machine is ready to use when the time comes.

          Be the Democrat you want to see.

          by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 12:15:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  What she said...and then some (none)
          Remember all the progressive organizations roaming the streets in 2004?  MoveOn?  ACT?Election Protection? Did you see any of them canvassing neighborhoods or at the polls in 2005?  Probably not.  

          Get yourselves organized locally and when (if?) they show up to "help" in 2006, tell 'em thanks but no thanks. Tell them you'll be happy to help them in 2008...if and only if you see them out and about in 2007.

          Don't tolerate these groups that are happy to take your money year in and year out, but don't show up unless they want your vote (and a share of the publicity that comes with a high-profile election).  Tell them you need and expect their help in taking this country back from the ground up, which in means local and state elections.

    •  Why stop at being a volunteer? (none)
      This isn't aimed at you but at all the "I can do better than those incompetent party hacks."

      Thought the coordinated/Kerry/state appropiate Senate campaign couldn't organize it's way out of a paper bag in 04? Here's your chance to prove how much you'd do better. It's campaign season everyone so campaigns and party organizations will be hiring.

      It'd mean long hours, low pay and literally hundreds of activists ready to rake you over the coals (or at least post a diary) for the slightest perceived misstep but the Democratic party is always in dire need of resourceful, energetic, intelligent individuals willing to work seventy to eighty hours a week for two grand a month. (at best)

      I'm sure you're all willing to sacrifice time, money and sanity to save country and party, right? It'd be just like joining the army except the pay is lower, there's no benefits and the only way you'll die is if you kill yourself from the stress. (Naturally, the hostile locals remain the same.)

      So fire up your e-mail and start sending your resume today - your Democratic party needs you!

      --- My opinions are my own and not my employer's.

      by Aexia on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:40:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is the important stuff (4.00)
    This is the stuff that needs to be recommended.

    Cheney's "Accident" will be forgotten in 6 weeks.

    This is what will give life to the Democratic Party, and our country's ideals 5-10 years down the road.

    Get on board the train before it leaves the station folks!

    Rick
    -7.75 -6.05
    Fox News - We Distort, You Deride

    by rick on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 06:52:26 AM PST

    •  Corporate Party Raiders (4.00)
      After reading this wonderful post, I can't help feeling like Washington establishment Dems have looted our party the same way Ken Lay looted Enron.

      Acting solely out of unmitigated self-interest and with total disregard for the long term health of the institution, these pirates rationalize highly questionable strategies in order to drain the coffers dry for their own self-aggrandizement - all the while neglecting basic infrastructure and allowing organizational cohesion to wither on the vine.

      The days of beltway consultants using our party as their private cash cow must end.  Only by cleaning our own house first can we even think about cleaning up the rest of our dilapidated governmental neighborhood.

      •  My wife had similar experiences (none)
        for months she's been trying to contact anybody at the Lehigh County Dem. committee, and not one response thus far. She just can't get involved because she can't locate them.
        •  Same here (none)
          Local Dem party meets in a community room at the jail. Lame. They have regualr meetings but they screen people based on income. Nice.

          Too bad that Dems and Reps passed a bill that makes it near impossible for 3rd parties to run for House of Representatives, I'd go with Greens since they're better organized and such.

          A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

          by Tux on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 11:13:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Rusty gates (4.00)
    Everywhere the Party is struggling.  Finally, formerly non-political Americans are stepping forward.  We, too, are frustrated by the archaic structure and nonproductiveness of our county Dem meetings, but last week we had double the bodies from last fall.  

    My husband is going to run (unopposed, natch) for central commitee for our precinct from which the executive committee is formed.  They will never know what hit them.

    The Dem phone banks in our area are like seedy motels with metal folding chairs and stale air.  I know this is the people's party but to compete w/ the R's, we need an upgrade.  We need caring, educated, hard-working individuals to step forward and donate some time.  

    Throwing money at the problem is helpful, but it is time for all of us to put some skin in the game. Bring on the WD-40.

    Thanks for your persistence.  

    •  Love your metaphors (4.00)
      I did not mention in the diary that the volunteer person's e-mail I was given was obsolete. I tracked down a different one.

      They have a make believe organization, it seems. They have the right sounding committees, but the committees do not really do work according to the woman at the office.

      They have a website, but it is always outdated.

      They have an e-mail address, but no at the other end.

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:19:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Can you run as well as your husband? (none)
      LatidaSothere,

      Can you run as well as your husband for the central committee? I know every place is organized a bit differently, but usually a locale can elected several people.

      And everyone knows that two progressives on a committee is better than one.

      Plus, you could both campaign for each other. Why waste all that campaigning on just one person? :-)

    •  Money should go to a different source (4.00)
      Instead of money going to national, state or regional groups, it should go DIRECTLY to operable phone banks & computers, functional chairs, and professional signage.  Don't forget to spend the time & money on top-notch data security software.
  •  I Hear You (4.00)
    I got involved in voter registration and had to beg for a meeting with the county chair.  I was excited, he couldn't care less.  He even asked me if I wanted to take his place!  I knew I was moving, so I couldn't.  Besides, I had never volunteered before and I don't fancy myself as being one who is eventually promoted to a job I can't handle.

    The website sucks.  There are no links to the state dem website, city dem websites nor to blogs.  

    On the other hand, the Corpus (yeah, the city who "outed" Cheney!) Dems, NCDP, have an excellent organization, and one would do well to mimic their actions.  They are also on Yahoo Groups, which is a great way to "meet" people in your neighborhood and find out what's going on.  To borrow from a commercial, you've got questions, they've got answers.

  •  I know voyeurism, okay? (4.00)
    Hanging out at political blogs is not voyeurism.

    Watching COPS and Survivor is a form of voyeurism, but political blogs....no.

    I'm not upset or anything, and it isn't necessary to clarify how I know hanging out at the blog isn't voyeurism, I just wanted to make it clear that there might be negative connotations/consequences to reading political blogs too much, but an equation to sexual play or mischief is inaccurate.

    If only, eh?   [smiles]

  •  Democracy On the March! (4.00)
    Keep up the good work.

    Dean is the future of the party. Hopefully, the DLC won't cause problems.

    This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

    by Mr X on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:16:41 AM PST

  •  amen (4.00)
    i knew the chair of our party and in 2003 in the run up to war was begging for a role to do something.  anything.  i wanted to hold a vigil and emailed him about it and he said, "sounds great, go ahead."

    now the only other democrat i know in the whole county is my sister-in-law.  so, that was not going to work.  so we went to charlotte to protest the war.  oh, how nice it was to be around like-minded people.  (you don't know how refreshing that can be when you live in a county that's 2-1 republican)

    the unfortunate part was that this was not the first time i had contacted the chair to be involved.  not at all.  and it wasn't the last time either.  but it wasn't until july 2004 that i was actually referred to someone who was helpful and could give me information on who might be good to contact to establish our progressive organization.

    after we formed our progressive group in july 2004, it's been all uphill from there.

    we were (my sis and i)invited to our first county executive committee meeting in august where i volunteered to run headquarters when it opened sept. 1st (i wasn't working at the time)

    we rented a big screen tv and showed fahrenheit 9/11 had debate parties, and sat depressed watching election returns.  i organized our largest fundraising event in....mb ever.  and we did some voter registration and canvassing.

    but after the election, the momentum died and OMG it was/is like rolling a boulder uphill.

    we elected a new chair (blah) and new officers. over half of those officers are newbies (like me and my sis and a few others from our group) and that has really made a big difference in getting things done.

    we spent most of 2005 being at the mercy of the chairman who never wanted to hold a meeting.  but we still managed to get a leadership training in november and at our first meeting after that we forced the executive committee to schedule re-occuring meeting times on the same day of every month. that has made a big difference.

    we also did a strategic planning session (against the wishes of our chair) and i'm planning a sequal to our big fundraiser this spring.

    we have brought a lot of new foot soldiers into the fold and have actually been successful in getting candidates for local offices.

    so i am very hopeful that this might be the year we get our precincts organized. so, it's wonderful to hear other people crashing the gate.  it does work.  you can do it.

    •  Here's why... (none)
      Here's why longtime chairs don't like your kind of energy, or strategic planning sessions:

      1. Your drive to invigorate the party makes them look bad by comparison, and to them is a (tacit) rebuke of their performance;

      2. Having a plan means they may actually have to work, or be held accountable for not carrying the plan forward.

      Keep it up.

      "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

      by Hudson on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:21:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe so (none)
        I sensed a little of #1 in my phone conversation with the vice chair. Maybe I was being overly sensitive, but she was a bit defensive when I mentioned the locked HQ. We'll see.

        Be the Democrat you want to see.

        by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:13:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You ain't seen nothing yet (none)
          she was a bit defensive

          I can see you have no idear what you are in for.  No wonder you're still buying into the bit about it being easier to take back the Democratic Party than to start a new one.

          Fasten your seatbelts, 'cause it's going to get bumpy.  And leave your sensitive side at home.  They will use it to manipulate you.

          On the other hand...if you go about it as if you are starting a new one, you might actually get somewhere.

  •  the best post (4.00)
    I have ever read on Kos. It's got me motivated to really get involved. Giving money is no longer enough.
    •  Call or e-mail your local today (4.00)
      while the fire is hot.

      I put it off for a long time.

      I thought there would be an organization waiting to use me.

      Oops.

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:22:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have already (none)
        Emailed a friend who works for the party. I hate politics, I hate the machinery, I hate everything about it but we have got to take over the party. It has come down to either reforming the Democratic Party or watching the USA become ever more fascist and it's time to get off my butt.
  •  Excellent (4.00)
    This is what it takes: it takes people like you who won't take no for an answer, who want change worse than anything. It takes people who are impatient and persistent. Don't give up and don't let up; the party needs you even more than you know.

    You didn't mention where you live, but in many places the party infrastructure has simply atrophied from lack of use. I've seen this myself, and I've seen what can happen when a small handful of energetic people decide to actually do something. There's a ton of unglamorous drudge work to do, and success can often seem a long way off, but the results are so completely worth it.

    Great diary.

    •  Did not want to "out" the locals (4.00)
      I'm sure if you follow clues you can figure out where I live.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:24:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's big of you (none)
        but I really wonder if things are this bad in most places. I haven't had experiences like yours, but then I live on the hyper-Democratic Upper West Side of Manhattan. Maybe we're more organized and efficient than your typical constituency?  
        •  things are this bad (4.00)
          in other areas and sometimes worse.  i've had a lot of successes in my county (although i'm no where near satisfied) but there are others across the state who are being intentionally disenfranchised.

          so there's a few dynamics here.  there's the too unorganized to provide leadership or even a call back (us up to 2004)

          and then there's "we're happy with our lil group the way it is and we don't want you coming in changing it".

          thankfully, ours was the prior and not the latter.

          •  Yes, they are, especially in red counties (none)
            Wish I could give you a 10!!

            I don't like Bizarro World... I want to go home to America.

            by willers on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:32:29 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  yes willers (none)
              and i know red counties <sobs>.

              you know what's worse than living in a 2-1 red county?  having your democratic governor appoint a republican to the only democratic judgeship you've got and have had for the past 30 years.  knowing that he's the only democratic official elected in your county.

              <sigh>

              but yeah, red counties have to work harder. BUT, they have the most important work of all. and that's why they need to be doing it and not giving up and choosing the path of least resistance.

              •  I'm on it (none)
                If it's one thing I do well, it's being a squeeky wheel. Oh no, they won't get rid of me that easily. My revenge will come in the form of representing my section of the county on the central committee... HAH!

                I don't like Bizarro World... I want to go home to America.

                by willers on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 11:10:36 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely (4.00)
          Believe me, your situation is the rare exception, rather than the rule.  I have surveyed the situation nationwide, and local parties are pretty much the same all over.  Many state parties aren't much better.  And it has nothing to do with majority or minority.  I live in a 4:1 blue county and it's dysfunctional here as well.

          I have been telling Democrats for a year now that their Party is mostly a myth at this point, but few of them believe me.  I guess that's because then they might feel they had to actually do something about it.

        •  Yes they are (4.00)
          I live in a small Michigan town where the only real prospects are service jobs or factories. With so many factories you'd think the local UAW and other union people would be active in the local party but guess again. Our local party consists of 10 people ranging from 50-80 years old. I would show up for meeting and be the only person under 40 and it was hard to do what I wanted to do. I had all this energy and they were all for it but nobody was there to help- they were all so tired from the constant losing that nobody wanted to do it but they kept on for tradition and habit I guess.

          This diary has reinvigorated my spirit (along with recent events) to get active again and this time not take no for an answer- I will also not let their indifference bother me. So many have said it, you've really got to do it yourself- the party died a long time ago outside major urban areas. Someone has to get it up on its feet again and get it to fight again. This is what we need to do.

          •  Michigan (none)
            Suggestion.. why don't you run for Precinct Delegate? In Michigan, precinct delegates get a vote at the county convention, to decide on the next county exec committee (which decides on the board).

            So you can effectively take over the party by rounding up energetic friends across the county and all running for Precinct Delegate. Filing deadline is early May. (forms here). In my county the board is made up of almost completely new faces.

            Is there a DFA chapter in your area?

            Michigan Liberal, for MI politics news & analysis

            by lpackard on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:50:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for the link (none)
              I've tried before but my county is extremely rural and didn't find enough like minds to join up with for a full revolution and soon gave up. A local group went off and formed a Progressive Democrats chapter with the intention of a full takeover since some of them were rebuffed by the Chairwoman. It's time to try again and hopefully the Progressive Dems make a move and jump into the fray. It's time to spend as much time DOING as I do here bitching! Thanks again...
  •  You should send this to (4.00)
    your state Dems HQ AND also send one to Howard.  Sounds like your local Dems group needs an infusion of energetic hard-working dedicated volunteers ASAP!  That is not the way to operate a county Dem group.  That's sad, really sad.  Are you in a county that is like all GOP?  Sounds like those county Dems have given up all hope of doing anything in your county.

    If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

    by Mz Kleen on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:20:57 AM PST

  •  Same Experience with Me (4.00)
    I had the same experience with my local party.

    It really seems like in many cases the local parties are very exclusive, its a small social club.

    I live about 5 miles outside of Arlington, VA so there is both the Fairfax Co. local and the Arlington local.

    The Fairfax County is the one I've had problems with, and its a very "blue" county, Arlington seems to be very active, and very young! Always holding events and very welcoming.

    Check out my story here.

    I've killed people for less...

    by patsprouseyo on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:21:55 AM PST

    •  it's very hard (4.00)
      as an officer of our county's executive committee, i can tell you, it's harder than it ought to be.

      we still have a good number of members who are just going to do the minimum amount of work required and no more.  that makes it really hard on those of us truly interested in growing and strengthening the party.

      i.e. we have 40 precincts in our county.  our chair and vice-chair unilaterally (b/c they didn't want to put the effort into making an actual committee) decided to only hold precinct meetings in 4 locations.  

      now it's true, most of our precincts are unorganized (only 8 out of 40) and that it's hard to get a precinct meeting together for 32 precincts w/o precinct chairs to help organize.  

      but we aren't even having meetings for 4 precincts.  and the other 36 are divided up unequally.  for example, we will have the 13 largest and most heavily democratic precincts at our one location.

      it's madness.

      but i'm confident we're going to get away from that.  i don't think the chair will last the year.  he takes getting voted down very personally and well, he's always being voted down b/c he doesn't want to do anything and WE DO GD IT!

      so, i'm crossing my fingers that we'll get more precincts organized so that those chairs can serve on the executive committee and we can start spreading out the work and building our machine.

    •  Sadly (none)
      Sadly, many party officers don't want a flood of volunteers. If they had them, they would have to work, and be organized; and they'd have no more easy excuses for failing to deliver.

      "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

      by Hudson on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:24:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's true (none)
        and why it MOST important that you have a good chair.  we don't and i worry about all of the lost communication.

        he's the one listed on the state website, he's the one listed on the district website, and of course, he's on our website as well.

        but if you fill out a volunteer form, it comes to us (the ppl who work and will call you back)

        i cringe when i think of the ppl who contacted our chair.  will i ever hear their name or know they're interested?  it's questionable.

        the kicker is that there are people in that very group who, with the information, will do everything to get you involved.

        •  An idea for you: (none)
          Call him every Friday to get volunteer names for the week.

          He'll say there weren't any.

          Next week, ask again. He'll say, still nothing.

          Then you say: Oh, there must be a problem with the e-mail! We sent some test messages to you, and obviously you didn't get them! Our good buddy is an IT guy, and he's right in your neighborhood. He'll be by in half an hour to check your account.

          Then do it. Next week, you'll get names.

    •  A small social club (none)
      YES! EXACTLY!!

      I don't like Bizarro World... I want to go home to America.

      by willers on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:22:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Fairfax County (none)
      The one good thing is that it's big enough that, if you are patient, you can find opportunities.  You just have to work around certain people.

      How can we get over it when people died for the right to vote? -- John Lewis

      by furryjester on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 11:05:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Inspiring. (none)
    Thanks. Just what I needed this Monday morning.
  •  Recommended! (none)
    Awesome diary! Filled with important stuff!

    The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.--Winston Churchill

    by Sunqueen212 on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:24:10 AM PST

  •  Same thing happened to me (none)
    in Trumbull, CT. Tried to contact the contact on their website, initially to let him know that the link from the CT Dem's site led to Trumbull, Ohio. Tried and tried, and no change. Again tried to help, but no reply. Finally had to go higher up (can't remember who - think it was Nancy DiNardo) and began to get some reaction. Never did hear from who to contact in our local precinct, except to finally learn I could help out on a phone bank. I don't have the emotional strength to check to see if the link still says Trumbull, Ohio.

    "Trying to make it real compared to what." Gene McDaniels/Les McCann

    by Sprinkles on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:24:26 AM PST

    •  Love the signature line.... (none)
      Have you checked out Eugene McDaniels Web site?  Here's a little quote I found on it:

      >>>> One score and three years ago our Reagan fathers brought forth on this continent, a new plutocracy, conceived in greed, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are not created equal.

      Now we are engaged in a never-ending class war, testing whether that plutocracy, or any plutocracy so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that these wealthy might prosper. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

      But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not privatize -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The poor suckers, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our corporate power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so pathetically advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased revenue from that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this plutocracy, under God, shall have a new birth of favoritism -- and that government of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy, shall not perish from the earth. <<<<<

  •  I tried to host a fundraiser (4.00)
    I called the city and state party headquarters (pre-Dean)asking how I could go about hosting a fundraiser at our family restaraunt I didnt get a call back
    •  That's good news if (4.00)
      You see it the way I do: they're ripe for takeover.

      Don't stop!

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:26:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Learn the process (none)
        The key is to find out the legal process for getting yourself into a position of responsibility. It may be through a primary for local commiteeman, or via a caucus.

        Either way, you're going to need some allies to run with you (so you have enough votes once you get into the smoke-filled room). And you're going to need to start conversations with your fellow local Dems that will explain to why such obscure elections are essential to renewing the party.

        "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

        by Hudson on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:27:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am getting a group together (none)
          Will be at the precinct meeting with some folks at my back.

          I have a listserv ready to go and will be sending a hundred or more e-mails to specific Dems inviting them to join me.

          Be the Democrat you want to see.

          by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:10:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  another version (none)
    I'm in a deep red county, where the local Democratic Party apparently feels that holding meetings is a way to make up for a lack of elected representation. There must be 8 meetings a month - planning meetings. Strategy meetings. YD meetings. Publicity meetings. Sign making meetings. Social meetings. Discussion meetings. Executive meetings. Fund raising meetings.

    I'm at the point where I simply delete the announcements. After all, they generally only cross my inbox 4 hours before the meeting in question, and the few meetings I've made it to have been so unorganized as to be totally ineffective. Nothing irritates me more than nonproductive meetings, where people sit around and talk about very little and accomplish nothing. As a mom of 2 little ones with a full time job, I simply don't have time to waste my time.

    It should be stunningly easy to take it over!

    •  As for late notice (none)
      The one and only unsolicited e-mail I ever got from the local party was one week before the 2004 election, asking for GOTV help.

      I had to be out of town and could not help.

      I replied saying just that, and asking if I might get more e-mails and better advance notice in the future.

      I heard nothing. No reply.

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:36:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  make you wonder (none)
        surely there's someone who can figure out how to post announcements to a website, or maintain a monthly planner ...
        •  our county didn't even have a website (none)
          before i came along.  and now it is updated by our secretary (sister-in-law) regularly and she is doing a great job.

          we don't get a lot of traffic, but the few people who have found us via web, we have tried to include to mixed success.

          •  Phone calls (4.00)
            In my experience as both an environmental activist and a political organizer in the small, rural county where I live, phone calls are essential to good attendance at meetings and turnout at events.

            There is no such thing as too much contact. People today are distracted; they're working 2+ jobs to make ends meet, and have 100+ channels to choose from when they get home exhausted. People need that extra push.

            An effective grassroots organization alerts its members and supporters of important dates and times in every way possible: postcards, email, faxes, press releases, flyers, your website, door-knocking, but most of all phone calls.

            If you put the word out in six different ways, you'll be lucky if most people notice one. So each form of contact had better be short, catchy, to and to the point... Whether you need volunteers to send out a mailing, or are holding a rally, or a fundraiser, you can't be too committed to getting the word out.

            And once they get there, you have to have something specific, manageable, meaningful and fun for people to participate in.

            (Sorry to preach about this, but it's something I've done, and feel strongly about.)

            "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

            by Hudson on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:35:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  If it's so easy (none)
      Why haven't you done it?  Are you leaving it to all those Democrats who are just sitting around with time on their hands?  Well, they don't exist.  But moms with little ones and full-time jobs who have made time in their busy schedules to take their party back do exist.  Some are even single moms to boot.
      •  gee thanks (none)
        I had no idea, really, none at all, that I was the only busy person in the world. Thanks for shattering the illusion. And some are single moms?  How fascinating.

        I'm plenty involved, in places and at levels I have determined to be effective and appropriate outlets for the time I have available. Restructuring my county's organization isn't something I have the energy to do at the moment. Nor do I think that a county-by-county system of organization and operation is an effective route for a national party to take.

        In case you didn't realize, personal take over is half of this diary. The other half is a serious wake up call to county, state, and national organizers to put together a framework for field operations. But maybe you were too busy with important Democratic duties - you know, like lecturing others - to see that reports on a variety of ways in which field offices can be ineffective might be beneficial to that aim.  

        •  Well, that's interesting... (none)
          Nor do I think that a county-by-county system of organization and operation is an effective route

          An very intriguing comment.  What route do you think would be more effective?

          a serious wake up call to county, state, and national organizers to put together a framework for field operations

          I think you missed one small point...by and large, there aren't any field organizers.  What made you think that there were?

          maybe you were too busy with important Democratic duties

          :-) To paraphrase Erin Brockovich, "Oh, god, no, I'm not a Democrat.  I just lecture them."

          •  if you're seriously asking (none)
            no, I don't see much utility in a hodge-podge of county systems where there's confusion from one location to the next about meeting schedules, GOTV, messaging, etc. The GOP has been highly effective and successful in creating basic infrastructures that are highly portable - allowing for local control but also cross management and portability.

            There are districts that overlap counties, not to mentions state-wide and federal races that involve hundreds of counties; why should a candidate, her/his volunteers, and voters have to figure out a different organization structure for each one?

            •  Yes, I Was Seriously Asking (none)
              I don't know how it is nationwide, but in most places it seems that the Democrats have just overlaid their structure on the existing voting districts, which in my area are precincts and counties.  I can see the advantages of uniformity from county to county, but I would guess the theory is that, because circumstances can vary dramatically from county to county, even in the same district, one size won't fit all.
              •  I was also serious (none)
                ...when I asked where you got the idea that there were field organizers.  Did you mean at the county level?  Or at the state or national level?
                •  well (none)
                  there's a problem, because I didn't make that claim - I said organizations. To the extent that there are  party organizations by state, region, or county, then there are field organizations. I suppose you can extrapolate from that to infer that there would then be field organizers - those working at the county level. However, it would appear to me that that is not necessarily or universally the case.

                  If you are, however, inferring that I suggested that there is the equivalent of a Hershey (pick your company) sales regional manager to the Democratic Party structure that coordinates those offices in a tiered structure - no. I didn't in previous posts, and I'm not now. Though I certainly don't think that it's a bad idea.

                •  in other (shorter) words (none)
                  what I actually said was:

                  In case you didn't realize, personal take over is half of this diary. The other half is a serious wake up call to county, state, and national organizers to put together a framework for field operations.

                  a suggestion, not a claim.

                  •  Yes, that's where I got it (none)
                    I thought you were referring to field organizers.  I agree that this would probably be a good idear, but I don't think most county party organizations have the resources for field organizers.

                    There maybe be a few at the state level.  My impression is that, except for maybe 10-15 states where the Party is still vibrant, they usually hire an organizer or a handful at the state level for major elections and the rest of the time "Field Operations" consists of a few people at best.

                    My understanding is that this is one reason a lot of DNC members supported Dean for chair.  They felt national HQ was not adequately funding operations at the state and county ("grassroots") level.

                    •  the flipside (none)
                      is that you wind up with a walmart-ization of political action, rather than true grassroots activism.

                      It's a thin line - between providing enough structure to coordinate the work, and allowing enough flexibility so that it actually works in the specific locales.

                      Even with that caveat, it's not rocket science.

        •  Local perhaps? (none)
          "Nor do I think that a county-by-county system of organization and operation is an effective route for a national party to take."

          Not every race is a national one. Local races are just as important -- that's where the Republicans started to rebuild... on the school board and budget committees and so on. They even told us they were doing exactly that, and I was amazed to see them win local election after election, and even with this advance knowledge the Dems did nothing about it. Now look where we are.

          There is no such thing as an unimportant election!

          "But maybe you were too busy with important Democratic duties - you know, like lecturing others"

          Like... you're doing? I'm sorry you got upset -- I'm a single mom 3 days a week when hubby's out of town working, plus I work at home and run a homestead of 7 people so I understand how it is -- but attacking people here really isn't very helpful. There's got to be a better way to channel that energy!
          8-)

          I don't like Bizarro World... I want to go home to America.

          by willers on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 08:46:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  yes (none)
            see my above response: although many of the important races are local, there are few (at least in gov't saturated PA) that are restricted to a particular county. Township supervisors and county commissioners, perhaps. But the local school board can easily encompass 2 or 3 counties; why shouldn't a national party be able to put together a framework that every county can utilize so that ANYONE calling ANY county can know the system?

            attacking people? Not unless calling bullshit on a bullshit comment is attacking.

  •  Beatiful post (4.00)
    Inspiring, full of important information, on-the-ground stuff.  

    Oh, and also: Go Deacs!

    (WFU 1986)

  •  New Precinct chair (4.00)
    I can say that I was first brought into politics after getting motivated by Dean.

    I had just come back from the Peace Corps and wanted to get involved.  

    I sent the same email to my county party that was never replied to...  I tried again...   I asked where the annual precinct meeting....  I was the only one there, except...

    The new County chair.  I was the only one who wanted the job, I took it, and now I'm the one who gets the emails like the first one you posted above.

    I would like to think that I'm part of the transformation of the party, but for all the grand rhetoric, 95% of the job is replying to emails and hunting down potential volunteers.  

    It's grunt work, but it is satisfying.

    Tonight is the first precinct meeting that I will run myself.

    Are there any new precinct chairs out there like me?

    K

  •  I am (4.00)
    currently having a similiar problem. They just keep saying "leave your contact information on this sheet and we'll get back to you within the next two days". This gives me courage. Perhaps I'll just go there and say "I'm not leaving my contact information, what are you doing right now? I am going to do it for you so you can get organized or do something to make this place run smoother".
    Thanks for this.

    Spies, Cries, and Lies: Brought to you by the Republican Party

    by Whitney S on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:39:02 AM PST

  •  Dysfunctional (4.00)
     Before 2000 I was a political know nothing. I always voted but in many cases I voted wrong! After 2000 I realized there was more to voting than just coloring in a circle.
     I contacted my local Dem party reps on numerous occasions and told them I wanted to help. I never received a call back. Just before the '04 elections I was desperate to help so I just kept calling until  they told me they were going to run phone banks.
     They said they would be doing them every evening for 5 days from 4-9 and wanted to know what times and days I would volunteer for. I said full time for all 5 days and did that.
     I have not had a call/email from them since. We have to get more organized than that!

    (-7.50 -6.31) As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. J.F.K

    by arkdem on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:39:12 AM PST

    •  call them! (4.00)
      if they are like my county, they liked to lay dormant for the off years and only have a presence 3 months prior to even year elections.  

      they don't get to do that anymore. ;)  but i imagine there are a lot of counties like this.  what they need is someone like you to hold their feet to the fire and not let them lay dormant for 18 months of every election cycle.

      there's so much planning and work to be done during the off year, you can't waste it.  and most organizations do.

      you can make them be active.  

    •  Figure out a way to get some Dems (none)
      in your neighborhood together. Do the social thing I described earlier. Talk. Eat. Talk about what you'd LIKE the Dems to do. Register voters. Do you have voter regis materials in your car/briefcase/purse(if have) at all tiems?

      Ever walked into establishments with young people working and asked if they're registered to vote?

      Etc. You don't really need those guys to do.

      In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

      by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 12:50:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I tried to volunteer and heard nothing (4.00)
    About a year ago I emailed the Democratic Party of Illinois offering to volunteer some web programming, and I never heard back.
    •  Ah, Illinois (4.00)
      Before 2004 I even faxed the State office. Put me on a mailing list! Send me e-mail! I'll do anything!
      No reply.

      One thing that seems obvious now is that party establishments have a disincentive to encourage any participation that they don't control. For that matter, they really don't want more voters -- it's much more viable in terms of money and power for them to have all political operations, votes, and power consolidated with one small group of people.

      Sad thing is, this is the same group of people that's been giving us the same old crap for decades.  

      •  create your own group (4.00)
        that's what we did.  my sister-in-law and i tried for years, yes years, to get involved in our local party and never heard a peep.

        we created our own group--the progressive democrats--as part of a statewide charter and it all fell in place from there.

        now we pretty much run the county with a few hiccups from our leadership now and again.

        you only need about 5 people to wreak havoc on an unorganized party.  we started w/2.  ;)

        •  wow (4.00)
          Could you do a diary about this?  I think it might help people who are in a similar situation to the one you found yourself in if they are shown an alternative path, and the success that can come from it.
          •  I agree.... (4.00)
            Please do a diary on the subject.  Share what you've learned.
          •  is it really that interesting? (4.00)
            i'll be happy to post a diary about it.  it can go down with 3 comments like the rest of my diaries.  ;)
            •  Look, organize this in the same way (none)
              Find 3-6 Kos people who want to see your diary. Include me. Email them at the address they have showing on their user page.

              I mean, we ALL have throw-away web-based free email addresses posted on our user pages so we can network, right?  (Hello, anyone listening? OK, now follow through.)

              Then when you get ready to post that diary, you email them "I'm getting ready to post it", or 'I just posted it" -- please recommend. Will someone say, "It's an abuse of the system?" Well, have at it. What it also is -- a method to separate wheat from chaff -- to reward truly important writing by unknown diarists.

              In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

              by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 11:34:17 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  DPI is a patronage-laced mess (none)
      Mike Madigan really has no direct interest in the precinct-level stuff, as long as his buddies keep working their own precincts to keep the powers that be here installed. The party heirarchy is everything.

      Where are you in Illinois? If you're in Chicagoland, the action is at the ward or township party organization level. If you live in a do-nothing ward or township, I could recommend a couple or three outside organizations to help build enough momentum to get involved in the official party.

      BushIsWeak.com ... somebody really ought to register this domain name ...

      by wystler on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:12:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I did the same for graphic design.... (none)
      And they seemed interested, but no one ever got back to me.

      I know they were really organized before the election and helped deliver the county for Kerry last fall.

      Anyone in Clark County, WA (near Portland, OR) have any suggestions?  I could look it up myself, but that wouldn't be as fun as chattin with y'all.

      You've slid into my life the way gin slides into a glass of Vermouth.  Comfortable and just a little too quickly - Barbara Arden

    •  Volunteer to help that guy from CO (none)

      In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

      by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:17:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Me too (none)
    I live in Bucks County, Pa. and tried to get involved. Never got a reply to my e-mail.  Later the site was idle and said to come back later.  The local papers have nothing and I had to rely on bloggers to see who was running for this past election.  No wonder only 1 dem won.  All the rest were same old repugs.
  •  Got some people you can contact (none)
    Hey man,

    If you'd like to start helpin in the 5th, just email me and I can get you in touch with the people who are trying to set up the district-wide anti-Foxx campaign (They're based out of Watauga, a bit of a drive, but not horrifyingly so) and they can start setting you up.

  •  Some people took years... (4.00)
    Wow, this couldn't have been timed any better. My father, after the debacle of the 2000 & 2002 elections, decided he must do more than donate & vote. After nearly a decade in Florida & seeing how pathetic the local Dems were, he went to volunteer. His first attempt to help out, during the fall of 2003, resulted in this response: "We don't need any help right now, but maybe you can drive people to the polls on Election Day."

    Not satisfied with the answers, he started crashing the Dem meetings. He asked of plans for 2004..."Vote Dem, of course!" He asked about voter registration drives... "It's too early to worry about that - we need to focus on money." Bullshit, he thought. If you don't have an active local party, then the locals will have zero interest in giving money to someone who won't fight for them. But he kept going, despite the obvious "we don't need you" attitude thrown his way. After a few meetings with no change & little progress, my father couldn't bother to hold it in anymore, and let loose a rant against what we would call "establishment Dems" and how their lollygagging would only make things worse, citing past elections & Repubrigand ground efforts as examples.

    Finally, people heard him. And were pissed at him. But he continued to fight.

    Now, some two-and-a-half years later, he's been training for his new position as the precinct chair. He has DailyKos as one of his few linked bookmarks. He reads Raw Story. He is now ultra-informed and ready to act. Unfortunately, this means he is no longer dazzled by my ability to inform him of news before it breaks (and is promptly thrown away).

    His fight in a very, very red part of Florida (where lib'ral professors have found themselves warned by politicians) has overcame a very stagnant, self-important collection of establishment Dems.

    And am I damned proud of my father. He cultured the good man within me, as I cultivated the energized progressive within him.

    Great diary, and thanks for sharing it.

    "I'm not an actor, but I play one on TV."

    by zeitshabba on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:58:28 AM PST

    •  that's awesome (none)
      tell your father to not give up.  i'm on my 2nd year of constantly pushing this boulder uphill in my party and it gets so tiresome.

      the unfortunate part of that is that we all agree on where we want to go, it's getting there that's the problem.  we still have people in leadership positions that just want to do things they way they always did or do as little as possible in general.

      they're slowly being replaced by people who are willing to do/try anything if it will make us stronger.

      it's frustrating, but in the end people on the ground will see what is going on and they will support your father.  with any luck, he may be the next chair of the party!

      •  With bad luck, you mean... (4.00)
        with any luck, he may be the next chair of the party!

        I know he doesn't want to achieve politically, personally. But I'm exactly like him - if there is a void of leadership, or if leadership is a hinderance, then someone else must stand and lead. If noone else would, he would. Just as I would.

        We're merely moral placeholders in the fight until another MLK, another JFK, another true leader inspires us citizens to want, to work for, and to achieve better for ourselves.

        Until then, we just have to focus on kicking ass. Kicking bloated, unpatriotic, corrupt, religious extremist asses.

        "I'm not an actor, but I play one on TV."

        by zeitshabba on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:29:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  luck is relative (4.00)
          bad luck for him (or you) but certainly good for the people in that county.

          if his leadership is needed (and it sounds like it is) then those people who have starved for leadership all this time will flock to him.  

          i know that i have been welcomed in my county w/open arms.  less by the executive committee than the people.  and i think that's common.  to the executive committee (well, a couple of ppl on the executive committee) i'm perceived as a threat (though it's not so), but to the regular rank and file democrats, i'm just a breathe of fresh air.

          i'm glad that your dad (and you) are willing to step forward in the absence of leadership.  the best leaders are not about the glory anyway.

          •  Quite true. (none)
            I hear ya. I hate it when someone says "you're lucky!" when it's good luck, but never say the same when it's bad luck. It's all luck, right? Two sides of the same coin, etc...

            And dead-on, again - the people welcome him, the old structure didn't. But he's not in it for honor or glory. His job, like mine, is one that you do it best when noone knows you're there. If we find ourselves in the spotlight for any reason, it can only mean bad news.

            I forgot to say nice work for your efforts as well. It would appear to me that your moniker is slowly losing its relevance, no?

            "I'm not an actor, but I play one on TV."

            by zeitshabba on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:39:46 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  teehee (none)
              alas, i am quite practical.  but i'm really just an idealist at heart.  i was a kucinich support for christ's sakes and actually thought he had a chance.

              <sigh>

              my efforts are slowly beginning to pay off.  i keep thinking about what this process would look like if we didn't agree on general direction.  <shiver>  a nightmare indeed.

    •  Wow (4.00)
      Your story is great and so is your writing.
      Consider reposting this as its own diary.
      Yes!
    •  With apologies to Ghandi (4.00)
      "But he continued to fight."

      First they blow you off. Then they get pissed off at you. Then they decide to take up gardening.

  •  asdf (none)
    We have to avoid letting precincts become little cliques that aren't open to new people.  Big fish in small ponds do not like other big fish encroaching on their territories.  It is the nature of people.  

    -6.13, -4.46 * 2267 *

    by BDA in VA on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:58:46 AM PST

    •  this is so important (4.00)
      my sister-in-law and i (secretary and sec member) are charged with organizing 13 precincts at a meeting this saturday.  

      in our 2 precincts we contacted members of the "clique" and asked them to donate postage (24 cent postcards) so that we could invite every democrat in our precinct that voted in 2004.  (in my precinct that was about 433 households, in hers it was over 500)

      we'll find out how successful that is on saturday.

      but when we contacted precincts that already had chairs, we got some resistance.  and i know this one person who declined our help in sending postcards if they could come up w/postage was not trying to exclude people.

      but he said that he always called people and he felt that worked.  the thing is, that he always calls the same people, and yeah--that's enough to consider the precinct organized.  but what about the other 380 households in his precinct that he doesn't even know to call?

      if you always invite the same people, you're never going to get anyone else.  and if that's not working (and it's not), it's time to reach out to new people.

      i hope our 2 precincts have a huge turnout so that we can officially implement this strategy  at our next executive committee meeting.

    •  Only some people (none)
      "It is the nature of people."

      Please don't fall into this habit.  People are not made with cookie cutters.  Some people are driven to form cliques; some are repelled at the thought.  "People are just like that" is used to justify a lot of behavior that is by no means observed in all people.

      When someone tells me "people are just," I always reply with:

      "My mother always taught me that, just because behavior is understandable, doesn't mean it is acceptable."
      --Jodie Foster, accepting the Academy Award for her role in The Accused

  •  Good news, bad news here... (4.00)
    I don't remember the exact mechanism, but somehow I got hooked up with the state party machinery.  Previously I had been mostly doing stuff on a per-candidate basis.

    But to their credit, the local party has called me several times for different volunteer opportunities.  A couple I couldn't do because of prior committments, but I am glad to see the are reaching out.

    However, I got called recently to get signatures.  I got wrong information on what to do first.  Then I got incomplete information on what to do next.  Finally--I asked for a clipboard, as it is hard to collect signatures without a hard surface....and they had to search hard for one.  And then it was the wrong size (the papers that have to be treated very carefully are legal size...I got a letter size clipboard).

    I was telling my friend this story, and he said, "Geez, if you went to RNC headquarters they would have handed you a palm pilot...".  We laughed, but it really isn't that funny.

    My kingdom for a clipboard....

    And yes, I know I could go to Staples.  But I was asked last minute to go out and do this at some event, which was time-specific.  I just didn't think it was that much to ask for, ya know?

    •  Will file that away (4.00)
      Note to self: give people clipboards (or palm pilots) when you are chair.

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:04:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Assign someone to (none)
        yard sale a few. There will be someone in your org who'll just love that.

        Better yet, have a bulletin board on the wall, and post needs on it. Take off as people fill them for you.

        THAT empowers people to participate, gives them ownership. YOU buying all the clipboards, nope.

        In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

        by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:00:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Depends on your perspective (none)
      If you think your party belongs to someone else, and you are working for them, then, no, it is not too much to ask.

      If you think your party belongs to you, and you are working for yourself...

      I'm sure all assistance is useful, but what the Democratic Party really needs is for Democrats to step up and take ownership of their own party.

      •  I didn't get any pens either.... (none)
        I'm sorry, but if you are going to ask people at the last minute to got out and collect signatures, there are 4 things they need:

        1.  The papers to sign
        2.  Pens
        3.  Clipboard
        4.  Correct and legal instructions

        They failed 3/4.

        This is really not the same thing as an entrepreneurial exercise.  There are some basic structural components that you really need to have.  I didn't go into the details before, but decided to since your patronizing attitude is really not helpful.  This is what drives people who want to help away.

        •  Heard it before (4.00)
          Yes, I would agree that this drives people who want to help away.  That is sort of my point.  You can come into this with the idea that you are helping someone else with something that belongs to them, or that you are working on something that belongs to you.  You can think whoever called you was asking you for a favor, and therefore should at least provide you with what you need to deliver it, or that they were being kind enough to let you know that your shop was short-handed that night, and have no reason to expect more of them.

          I remember sitting on the floor of a hotel room one night in the summer of 2004, drinking beer with a Democratic senatorial candidate and a bunch of off-duty activists, when someone asked, "Anybody got a Sharpie?"  A half dozen appeared instantly, and everyone burst out laughing.

          My car is stocked with two clipboards, pens, a couple of Sharpies, and tape and tacks so I'm prepared to post flyers. I have a stack of voter registraton forms, flyers on voting rights, and instructions for requesting absentee ballots.  When it's available, I'll carry information on early voting as well.  

          If you do not think this is the same thing as an entrepreneurial exercise, I think you do not understand the disasterous state of your party (as described in painful detail on this thread) or the nature of democracy.  The only way the Democratic Party is going to rise from the ashes now is if a whole bunch of ordinary Democrats are willing to make it their own.  Right now.

          If you want to argue with me about how that ain't the way it's spozed to be until Bill Frist is installed in the White House and the last handful of Democrats in Congress are two millimeters to the left of Zell Miller, that's your choice.

  •  Great post and great plan! (4.00)
    I am a former Chair who, starting in the late nineties helped rebuild our local party organization from disarray to high efficiency just the way you envision. As a result, our local dems finally gained the majority (5 years and counting) on our town Council in our overwhelmingly and oppressively repub area. Thanks to our enthusiastic volunteer base and consistent messaging (good government, environmental stewardship, fiscal responsibility)we are even starting to see the results in local versions of national returns with R margins shrinking dramatically. Our current mayor is the very best, most brilliant, hardest working and supremely effective our town has ever seen, gets statewide attention, and does us very proud. Rebuilding the party absolutely can be done and your plans are exactly right. It starts with you, and with all of us!
    •  Wow! (none)
      Just what we need to hear.

      It is not pie in the sky. It can work.

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:06:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  pam is that you? (none)
      j/k

      i know a county like that in nc and they are my inspiration (we're 2-1 red).

      starting with that and accomplishing so much in so little time is truly amazing.

      makes me feel slow and ineffective.  ;)

      •  no... (none)
        I am in NJ -- in a suburban & very red area (but now, less red than it used to be : )  ) of our great blue state.
      •  Yes Pam is a force to be reckoned with (none)
        I don't know how many of Pam's war stories you've heard, but I call her "the Erin Brockovich of North Carolina."  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you must ask her about "You Don't Need an Attorney" sometime.
        •  we hope to have her come down to randolph (none)
          to train us in how to terrorize republicans. ;)

          but alas, our executive committee wanted her to come give a talk first.  these ppl are really behind the curve.

          if i can get her to make the trip twice, i'll do that.  otherwise, i'm just setting up the training and the chair and his 3-4 followers can ignore it at their own peril.

          •  I will be curious to see what she says (none)
            You are talking about Pam up northwest, right?  Unless things have changed, part of her strategy was to join forces with the moderate Republicans to terrorize the rest of 'em.  In an overwhelmingly red county, she sat down with the moderates and said pragmatically, "I'd rather lose to you guys."

            I really think the Dems should do more of this, instead of demonizing all Republicans.  Dems keep telling me how the central problem is that the far right has taken control of the Republican Party.  Seems like it would make good sense to try to help the moderates get back in the driver's seat, instead of always tarring them with the same brush.

            •  oh yeah (none)
              same pam.

              she has a lot to share, esp. w/red counties like my own.

              i've contacted her about coming here and she was game.  the only thing is i haven't spoken w/her since my meeting w/the executive committee.

    •  This warrants a diary (none)
      We need to hear more success stories like this, and we need to hear them in more detail. Give us more information about what you did, where you are, etc.
  •  Interesting (4.00)
    I think I know where you live, I used to live around there myself.  I think there may be more left-leaning people that don't realize they are left-leaning where you live, especially if you are in the area of your login's namesake (which I am very familiar with too.)

    I haven't been in touch with him for a while, but I know of a guy that used to run a restaurant that was a popular hangout for liberals and gay people close to downtown W-S, I'll see if I can get in touch with him and see if he is doing anything politically.  Of course, I'm also assuming you are somewhere near W-S.

    •  Thanks (4.00)
      Yea, I do not think the numbers are that bad. The city is Dem, the suburbs heavy red.

      But the GOP is so much better organized.

      Four years ago the Dems put up ZERO candidates for the school board!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:08:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Big Tobacco (4.00)
        I think that it's the fault of the tobacco companies, who support the Republicans.  Not only did they help the Republicans organize, but they also vilified the Democrats as northern liberal elitists.  Most places in NC seem to hold on to the civil war as some sort of mythical movement that they belong to that makes them cool and gives them a reason to believe that they are victims of rich northern liberals.  The only way you can really fight that is to show them that it's truly the Bush administration and their corporate cronies who are screwing over southern people.  There's a lot of anger in your state just waiting to be tapped and focused, and I wish you good luck in it.
  •  Objectives (4.00)
    My wife participates in the local democratic ward in New Haven, Connecticut, but this area is about as blue as blue can get, so this is not one of the key points of struggle.

    I have greater sympathies trying to dethrone an officeholder in a red area.  It seems to me that for the dysfunctional groups--and there are many, through no lack of good intentions--because of inertia, "old guardism," the strains of volunteerism on any working bloke, and many other limitations imposed by that thing we call life.

    It seems to me that the key issue for getting individuals involved and enthused is by focusing on a few basics in either starting or--from the sounds of posters to this diary entry--restarting a ground operation.

    1. Hold regular meetings--even if only one person shows up--and have something definite to talk about at each meeting (so planning early comes with the territory).
    2. Advertise the meeting and its agenda regularly, whether by snail mail, e-mail, posters on college campuses, electronic bulletin boards, your blog, the DailyKos, etc.
    3. Have a set of small objectives.  The baseline should always be two simple objectives: a. how to gain more meeting attendees; b. what electoral position(s) to target for takeover, first locally, then more expansively (if Democrats you like already control the posts).  This will be the most challenging (but fun) for red area folks because your objective is right in front of your face
    4. Everything else that you do is a subset of 3.b. above: educational seminars, trips to the city council, state house, what have you.  Sometimes individuals focus their party efforts on influencing local, state, or national legislation (i.e., to change someone's vote).  That to me is just another subspecies of 3.b., above.   More often than not, if you get the right person elected, the policy will follow.  
    5. Note, however, that targeting an elected office as an objective need not be the same as working for an office seekers campaign.  You can educate towards a position that a candidate fits rather than fight for a candidate who ostensibly supports the position.  The former, to me, is the more satisfying fight since the latter means a dependence on the candidate's personality rather than his or her voting activities.

    There is more to say, but I'll leave it at this.  Political activity differs little from businesses in terms of goal orientation.  Most democratic ground operations at the very local level suffer from the absence of that business-like application of skills that many of us already  have and instinctually understand.
  •  Us too (3.75)
    Our local dems are nearly as fucked up as yours.  My wife and I have been quite active the last two years until a cabal of republican infiltrators (seems that way) hijacked the party with their pro-life anti-gay agenda.

    The party is now so engrossed in infighting I doubt they will amount to nothing for the 06 campaign

    Some of the the people are quality folks, but quite a few of them are retards.  Some of them are literally retards.  Now dont get me wrong, I appreciate retarded people participating, but they can really muck up the decision making process.  If there is one thing the republicans understand it is effective hierarchical command structures (a necessary evil at times).

    Since most of my factual posts have been getting troll rated lately, I would like to issue a pre-FU for those of you troll rating this post.  Have a nice day.

    -5.50, -5.69   I'm Gandhi who happens to own a Machine Gun !!

    by Stink Tank on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:06:53 AM PST

  •  Take it to the next level (4.00)
    This is sadly all too true of far too many local and county Democratic organizations around the nation.

    It's no accident that national Democratic candidates do so poorly, when there are so few true foot soldiers at the precinct/ward level.

    Where I live, those of us who were prepared to be truly active (rather than passive donors, or once-every-four-year phone-a-thoners) were ignored, resented, and opposed by those holding party positions.

    So we took over our local Democratic Committee, via primary elections, ward by ward, in 2003. (The old boys tried to knock us back out in the next election cycle, 2005, but we picked up more seats. They don't even come to meetings; before we took over, all business was handled by the chair, who claimed that they "met by telephone.")

    So that's my advice to you: take over. Find out what the procedure is for becoming a party official, and commit to organizing a group of people to

    The only answer is a lot of work, but it is necessary, and actually pretty exciting.

    (I had a long post at MyDD about strategies for and philosophy of activism a week or two ago: link below.)

    http://hudson.mydd.com/...

    "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

    by Hudson on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:13:25 AM PST

  •  Preach it (4.00)
    The key to taking the party back is showing up and doing something. Commenting on the baby Jesus' meta preferences in diaries concerning Hillary Clinton may scratch an itch, but it doesn't move the ball down the field.

    State and local parties are usually short of staff and cash, even if the staff aren't a bunch of burned out shells. Don't worry about it. Find a task and do it.  Get a copy of the vote file, and start calling people who vote in the Democratic primaries in your area. Find a few like-minded Democrats and work your own projects. I met up with some locals on this blog, we did a few things together and now I'm doing analysis and advising three campaigns, as well as working with local Dem clubs in two cities. Doesn't stop me from making snarky comments back on the blogs, but I'm also in a position to filter through all the noise here and find the nuggets to bring to my candidates' attention.

  •  Example (4.00)
    Here's one specific example of how lazy and ineffectual our County Democratic establishment is:

    I actually went to a County meeting once, about developing a platform for the party, where the "Parliamentarian" spent a good 20 minutes speechifying about why registering new Democratic voters was a waste of time.

    Staggering.

    In our town (where, once we took over the Dem Committee, we were then able to elect a progressive mayor and council) we took Dem enrollment from 1,200 to nearly 1,900 in four years.

    "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

    by Hudson on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:16:57 AM PST

    •  Good news again! (none)
      The more broken it is, the easier it is to make a difference?

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:27:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True enough (4.00)
        It's true that there is less initial resistance if you're facing more of a vaccuum than an entrenched, good-ol'-boy machine. But both can be a problem.

        For example, in many places in New York State the Democratic Committee  has lots of vacancies, so all you need to do to become a Committeeman is to get appointed to fill the vacancy. Where I live, this requires a recommendation from the Town Chair. But the Town Chair can be hard to find.

        A friend had been trying to get appointed to her Town's Democratic Committee for some time, and was getting no response from its Chair. Finally, I raised the issue explicitly (the person at fault was absent, of course). While there was a lot of resentment and tut-tutting about my raising this matter in public (oh my god, we might actually be expected to be responsive!), in fact my friend did then get appointed.

        And, miraculously, the formerly-absent Town Chair has now become quite active, and even ran a successful campaign to be elected Supervisor of his Town last fall. (It helped that the local Republican incumbent heavyhandedly used the police force to punish a political enemy, turning people against him just a few weeks before an election he otherwise would have won.)

        In short, while I didn't make a lot of friends among the entrenched Committee members by raising this issue, speaking out led to results. And that's what we have to care about: not so much being nice, but delivering results.

        "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

        by Hudson on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:49:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  yeah, i'm quite unpopular w/our chair (none)
          and a few others on the committee.  but i'm treated like a hero on the ground.  and isn't that where it matters?
          •  Definitely (4.00)
            I'm in the same position.

            Last year, certain County party leaders took the unusual step of promoting candidates against many of the most active and effective members of the Democratic committee, including myself.

            There were five candidates in one small ward. I won by a 2-to-1 margin, and my running mate got in as well. The three who tried to run the progressives out lost.

            What is crucial is to form one's own base of support, and keep it active and informed at all times. The bad guys have no energy or capacity for that.

            And while some like to call such primaries "divisive," I have found it to be just good training for beating Republicans in the general election.

            "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

            by Hudson on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:04:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  i try not to take my complaints to the streets (none)
              although i have a "venting committee" of a few choice dems and i put lil bugs in their ear.  but nothing that could be perceived as hateful or even complaining.

              it's just good to sometimes say, i don't know why the chair chose to do it this way, but we're going to try to be as successful as possible with the frame we were given.

              very innocent, and very effective.

  •  Congratulations on your new enlistment (4.00)
    and thanks for the diary.

    My story in a nutshell: I got involved for Kerry/Edwards, helped them out, and joined after Bush was reinaugurated.  Our party had a cobweb site, and I joined so I could run the darn thing.  

    Others joined and formed a communications committee . . . which now tends to wag the dog.  We are no longer 6 elderly people giving each other the sunshine report--we're a packed room full of Democrats every month, and other counties are wondering what's in our water!  

    We're also following Dr. Dean's prescription and organizing the equivalent of our precincts, registering people to vote, putting on our CD convention, cranking out PR, getting publicity for candidates opposing Republicans and otherwise getting our affairs in order for 2006.  

    And one of our members has written a book on health care reform and is campaigning for it.  Another project of mine is flogging the idea of sustainable living, and I am now an officer, too.

    Sure, the GOP has a way with dtabases and pigeonholes for its members.  We haveto think outside that box, though.  A big, detailed database and responsive web site is just one aspect of a much bigger grassroots chore.  We have to do better than the GOP and their targetted spamming, mailing and astroturfing.  

    •  Communications committee -- brilliant (none)
      Will file that under best potential ideas for what to do next.

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:28:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Our communications committee (none)
        sometimes meets outside of the regular meeting, and tries fairly regularly to have a program for the meeting, be it a candidate speech or showing of a Lakoff video snippet.  This spring its big deal is organizing the network of "neighborhood communicators" to spread the latest word among Dems, host parties, write LTEs, etc.  I myself am in charge of three townships--yikes!

        Th committee chairman has turned into a kind of de facto chairman, and our county chair is only too happy to have somebody else come up with the ideas and agenda . . . it's very handy, actually.

        We do have a problem with a lot of spectators in the party.  I call them "boarders."  They come to meetings, they contribute ideas, but then they don't come through with any kind of action.  Lately I am thinking simply that we haven't asked them to help forcefully enough--or personally enough.  

  •  Preparing (4.00)
    I'm a voyeur preparing to be a soldier.  I started with the bat!

    Atheists for Democrats!  Donating is at least easy to do.

  •  Drill Sergeant (4.00)
    As my tag suggests, I work with a group of veteran Democratic activists and campaign workers to train up new blood (and provide instruction that the old blood should have had years ago).  We train staffers as to how to operate an effective campaign organization, and we train candidates in how to effectively serve their own efforts.

    For decades, the Florida Suncoast had a tragic dearth of trained workers, meaning well-financed candidates had to import staff and train their own volunteers, and less-financed candidates had very little in the way of resources.  Likewise, our candidates had no idea what their role within the campaign organization should be.  Our group, which is mostly comprised of professional consultants, campaign managers, former staffers and former candidates, was created after the 2004 election to try and keep our Party a viable force on Florida's west coast.  We've worked with DECs, activist groups, and ordinary citizens looking to have a hand in a Democratic renaissance.

    Not quite a foot soldier (though I am running a petition drive for one of our Congressional candidates), not quite an officer (though I have played a part in local strategizing and serve on the executive committee of my College Democrats chapter)--more of a drill sergeant than anything.

    I'm a Democratic Non-Com: I work for a living!

    Florida Democrats: Learn how to WIN at the polls! www.victoryfordems.com

    by JR on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:27:44 AM PST

  •  Congratulations! (4.00)
    You managed to get me off my fat a$$ today.  I just signed up on our local website.  Now we'll see how long it takes for them to get back to me.

    Thanks for the motivation.  I'm also thinking of running for school board, but that's going to have to wait until my son lets me sleep through the night...

  •  Overreliance on union and public employee support (none)
    If you live in an urban area, the phenomenon described may arise from the local party's preference for unions and local government employers to provide (and organize and even pay for) the necessary bodies for the standard GOTV effort.  If money is short and labor is plentiful, there isn't much motivation for local party operatives to allocate resources to grassroots efforts and organizing volunteers.
    I suggest starting out by working on a specific campaign for state or local government office, e.g. state representative or senator.  Once you earn a reputation for follow-through on a campaign, you will never lack for opportunities.
  •  I've had a very similar experience (4.00)
    Starting the day after the 2004 election I started trying to get more involved. Several emails to the state party went unanswered, I still am not even on the mailing list.

    Last Fall I dropped in on one of the DNC meetups and met face to face with people who were disturbed to hear how my communications were unanswered. Now I'm putting my tech skills to good use creating and maintaining websites for my local party committee (www.rochesterdems.org), a candidate for US Congress (www.carolforcongress.com), and have become active in my local DFA chapter.

    So now I've got as much volunteer work as I can handle!

    I think the difficulty in getting involved is very disturbing but I'm hopeful that this is more of a matter of moderinizing the infrastructure than people at the top wanting to keep everyone out. But if you are persistent and willing to get physically in front of someone you can put your skills and energy to good use. I see this less as taking over the party so much as building bridges between the grass/net roots and the establishment.

  •  Form your own posse... (4.00)
    What I believe will be needed is not hoopla from traditional party bosses and cliques but aggressive action against the election machinery in every precinct in the country.

    When I say "machinery" I mean the kind that can be, and is ALWAYS tampered with so that the wrong people win the election.

    Hurt feelings over inattentiveness or complete ignoring by party hacks is sad if not enraging to read about.  But what I want to see is the voter registration drives, the individual  voter's awareness that his or her vote may not be counted.

    I believe there are some 3200 voting precincts in the country?

    We need 3200 posses - yeah, posses - that will concentrate on getting voters to the polls, on the precinct election machinery - on the voting machines, and vote tabulators, etc.

    Demand to inspect them. Are they touch screens, or what are they?  And do they have a tangible paper receipt?

    The play -the actual voting and tabulating - is the thing.

    Everything else, raising money and meetings and whatever else that doesn't directly affect that 12-18 hour period when votes are cast and counted, is all well and good.

    But it's that third act, final scene that makes the drama in all this.

    Get involved with the actual voting equipment and ballot counting.  That's where the action is.

    That's where we lost the last two elections - and probably many more.

    •  This needs a diary (none)
      Seriously, a lot of the ideas here need their own diaries. This needs to happen. For too long a lot of us have thought about what should happen and not done anything about it. I know lots of people here ARE involved, but I know lots of people are whining and not doing. But we need information- one of the things holding me back is I hate to not know stuff but I don't know HOW to get involved without asking and relying on people who want to waste my time. I need to KNOW before I start so I can plot a course of action that won't leave me frustrated and defeated. Getting involved means dealing with laws and by-laws and the whole red tape and malaise involved with local politics. I hope this is the start of more diaries on the process of getting active and DOING it and not just going through the motions.

      Dean saws we need people running for dog catcher, but is the party (or anyone) providing the means or info for us to find out HOW TO DO IT?!

  •  The hapless Democrats (none)
    is the label I've given them. It comes from no real passion for power at the top, and this lassitude radiates downwards through the ranks. Its source is programmatic: the Democrats do not really wish to shake up the way things are done. That would require, at this point, systemic change. I have yet to hear one Dem make that point.

    Nor do the Democrats want to really mobilize the discontented masses. They fear them. The GOP knows they will mobilize the reactionaries, and don't fear that. The Dems know the "people" may slip outside of their control.

    The leadership is well-educated. They know that, for instance, at the opening of the French National Assembly in mid-June 1789 the members, royalists all, shouted "Vive la Roi!" -- Four weeks later, the Parisian masses were storming the Bastille.

    "...in this abject posture have ye sworn / To adore the Conquerour?..../ Awake, arise, or be for ever fall'n."

    by Valtin on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:37:21 AM PST

  •  Terrific Diary. Thanks for your ... (4.00)
    ...persistence. Muchos kudos.

    This reminds me a great deal of what happened during the recall of Gray Davis in 2003.

    Although I was no great fan of Davis, I didn't want to see him ousted and replaced by a Republican. I called the county Dem HQ in Los Angeles and volunteered my time and talent and previous campaign experience for whatever project(s) - low or high - they wished to include me on.

    I was told I would be called back.

    A week passed. No phoneback.

    I called again. Same story. A week passed. I called again, and again, and again, with shorter waits between each call, eventually phoning eight times, with three of those to the state HQ, getting essentially the same message each time.

    So, I and four other southern Californians in  three relatively unorganized precincts decided to do "our own thing."

    We went door to door, made phone calls, and by the time of the recall had visited or called every Democratic and independent household in our precincts. We wrote and printed our own simple, double-sided anti-recall literature. Although Democrats abandoned Davis in droves statewide, that didn't happen in our precincts. So, we decided to expand our efforts for the general election in 2004.

    We organized 25 strongly or marginally Democratic precincts, based on their turnout for the recall. Some of these had precinct leaders already, but most did not. We recruited them. This time, campaign literature and lawn signs were available from party HQ, but organizing assistance was nowhere to be found. We decided to raise money for John Kerry's campaign by holding precinct parties. Ultimately, we held one in 24 of the 25 precincts, raising more than $80,000 ($6,000 in my precinct alone). The five of us served as unofficial advisors to the leaders of the other precincts. We again walked the streets, knocking on doors, and made phone calls. We bought precinct voting lists for $38 a thousand names.

    It was a lot of work. But when election day came, the turnout in these precincts was up, from 3% to 22%. All precincts voted for Kerry and other Democratic candidates.

    Now, we are working on 25 "sister precincts," those that are part of Republican congressional districts, in hopes of pushing them into the Democratic column by spurring apathetic Dems and independents to vote. While our own efforts probably won't turn around a district - too few precincts involved - if we are successful at upping the Democratic turnout significantly and closing the margin somewhat, our efforts can serve as a prototype for other precincts in those districts during the next election.

    As demondeac points out so well, this can't be a oneshot, if-we-don't-win-this-year-we-quit kind of project.

    •  Sister projects a great idea (none)
      I will file that one away.

      The idea of having templates that have worked and that can be adapted for others is the kind of force-multiplier we need.

      I am confident I can host a party party for people like me around here.

      Voting lists are on-line and free. I already downloaded it to my hard drive.

      Thanks for the ideas and the inspiration.

      As you say, this is a long slog, not a one-shot deal.

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:48:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you (4.00)
    I agree with the person above who said that this was the single best post they've ever read on Dkos.  Your unwilingness to use your experiences as an excuse to give in and/or complain is positively inspirational.  I am accepting it as a challenge and plan to answer.

    I've have diaried lately about how important I believe it is for our party to seek higher ground and to aim to inspire.  Thank you for exemplifying how that attitude can be applied to seeming hopeless situations.  The fact is however, it is not hopeless.  We are a hair's breadth away from the Republicans in terms of electoral power even with our systemic dysfunction.  Imagine what would happen if we got organized.

    Wait..strike that.  Imagine what is about to  happen now that we are finally getting organized.

    Keep banging this drum!

         

  •  Another example (4.00)
    While we have a bunch of exciting gubernatorial, senatorial, A.G., and congressional elections coming up in our area for 2006, my County Committee has been putting much of its effort into entirely internal, navel-gazing activities -- such as revising the party bylaws.

    While the bylaws are hardly ideal, and indeed something of a mess, it is not the real problem with the Party. This bylaw revision process is a nice substitute for actually doing things, such as finding candidates for State Senate and Assembly, distributing signs, educating voters on the importance of this election, writing letters, identifying petitioners and phone bankers, raising money (the party has about $1,800 to its name), hiring a staffer, training poll inspectors and watchers, and dealing with the various serious matter of HAVA implementation -- what kind of electronic voting machines our County will adopt.

    One such proposed revision to the County bylaws was a rule saying that no one could form a group in the county with the word "Democrat" or "Democratic" in the title without the leadership's blessing, and that all Democratic activity in the County had to be approved by, and loyal to, the Party leaders.

    I pointed out that such a rule is unenforceable to begin with, makes the party look doctrinaire, and fairly invites someone to form a rogue Democratic club just to spite them. We'll see if it stays in...

    This kind of thing goes a long way to showing you the mentality we're up against: rather than working on the mechanics of winning elections, the Party wastes time revising bylaws no one reads, to achieve goals no one cares about.

    "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

    by Hudson on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:58:39 AM PST

  •  Great story and one I have experienced as well (4.00)
    For the last two years I have been asking people frustrated with the Democratic Party, how do they expect to take back our country if they can't even take back their own party?

    In 2005 I experienced the same disenfranchisement from participating in elections for our local delegates to the state party.

    This year I've made it as an alternate onto our party county central committee and am now a delegate to the state party for the upcoming convention.

    Currently, I'm encouraging progressive people to run for the county party committee seats.

    Next step will be to get progressives elected as our local delegates to the state party.

    Third step will be to get progressives elected to the DNC positions from our state.

    In the meantime, work on lobbying our DNC members to support Dean and try to get the DNC to post all of the upcoming appearances for Dean in various localities. It almost seems Republican in their efforts to keep his schedule secret from Democrats.

    I'm also working on bringing peace activists back to the party. Has anyone even heard of a Democratic Peace group? I'm lobbying my Democratic club to form a Committee of Peace. We've got to bring peace activists back to the party and run for party positions!

    And finally, volunteer for progressive candidates. Especially in the primary over party hacks or bad voting Democrats. They party expects us Democratic voters to pull the Democratic Lever. It's the least they could do to also expect elected Democrats to vote Democratic Party positions on legislation.

    Peace,

  •  Tried To Join Local Democratic Organization (4.00)
    During the 04 elections the local Democratic organization left a door hanger listing the local meeting with telephone numbers. Since I had previous commitments, I could not follow up at that time. At a later date, I attempted to contact the names on the list to get up to date information on the local meetings. No one returned my calls. Have to admit that I was not as persistent as you were. Decided that I would postpone my involvement until a later date.

    My experience in working on the Kerry campaign has left me with the impression that Democratic Party is one of the least organized and most ineffective organization around today.  During my corporate days (Fortune 500 Co), my job duties included setting up new processes or redesigning ineffective processes. The challenges there pale to the challenges that are involved in just the effective use of voter database information by the Democratic Party. More often than not the process did not address the individual voters concerns and pissed off potential voters more than bringing them on board.

    Plan to begin again to get involved locally but have to admit that I dread the entire process.

     

    •  Went to a local Dem meeting other night (none)
      Appalled. Enough said. Navel-gazing I believe someone said?

      Here's my idea, and tell me what you think of it. Get ahold of the "walking list" or whatever for my local area. Invite those people over for a potluck. Have said potluck once/month. Allow people to network with each other, get to know each other. Get empowered, feel it might matter if they volunteered an hour or 2 here or there.

      Because inviting them to the Dem meetings would only make them want to run screaming out the door.

      But if these local people were meeting, wouldn't getting ahold of them in future be simpler?

      In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

      by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 12:30:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Now You're Talking! (none)
        As I said earlier...if you go at it like you are starting a new party instead of trying to take one back, you might actually get somewhere.
        •  One problem (none)
          Unfortunately, the official party is the one that has official rosters of registered Dems, so unless you can infiltrate the existing structure, you don't have access to that and other information that you need to canvass, phone, etc.

          I don't like Bizarro World... I want to go home to America.

          by willers on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 08:52:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's right outside your door (none)
            I have to ask...you mean you can't get this information from your board of elections?

            If not, then all you have to do is invest a little shoeleather.  Get out and knock on your neighbors doors.  Or, if you are afraid of Republicans (in which case I must venture the opinion that your taking over the Democratic Party isn't likely to help it much), you can just distribute flyers, but that's not nearly as effective.

            If you can pry loose the date, time, and location of your precinct meeting, flyer the neighborhood with announcements.  Since most Democrats don't like to do anything that actually involves their party, you might also invite everyone to a pre-precinct open house a couple of days before the actual meeting.  Most of the Democrats who show up will probably tell you that they would love to attend the meeting, but they just can't...and then proceed to give your their lengthy opinions about what the people who "can"  go to the meeting should do.  But with a little luck you'll find a few Democrats who really can.

            Then, rinse and repeat.  Keep inviting people to meet informally until you find enough to take over your precinct committee.

            Then, rinse and repeat.  Work with other Dems in other precincts to do the same until you own enough precincts to take over your county party.

            Then, rinse and repeat...

            And that's how it's done.

            •  No, it's not. (none)
              First, no, I had no idea you could just get all this information from a "board of elections" (which is located where?), else why would my local group not have just given it to me when I asked for it?

              Second, I am in a VERY rural area. I live in the middle of a National Forest. My nearest neighbors are over a mile away. There are no neighborhoods here, only houses dotting the landscape between expanses of trees and bushes and bears. At Halloween the only trick-or-treating is done at the businesses on main street because there ARE NO NEIGHBORHOODS.

              Thus, the vital importance in my area of knowing who to contact in advance. I don't need shoe leather to accomplish this, I need a phone or a car with a lot of gas (and even then, census workers and others driving up local rural driveways are met with suspician at the least, guns and dogs at the worst).

              Also, as of this minute, there IS NO PRECINCT MEETING because there IS NO PRECINCT LEADER. I will become the precinct leader after they are elected because 1) I will be running unopposed, and 2) they have not had a precinct leader in many years. Then we can have actual precinct meetings.

              Dunno where you live, but the city strategies don't work for us mountain folks. So I'm doing the best I can with the microscopic amount of information I have.

              I don't like Bizarro World... I want to go home to America.

              by willers on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 10:42:09 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  yup (4.00)
     I had a near identical experience of trying to get involved and getting blown off by apparently flaky people. The first step was to "sign up" as a volunteer on the website which really meant I got spammed with pleas for money. After getting tired of that I tried contacting people directly and the spent a whole lot of time writing emails back and forth and waiting for phone calls that never came. Then I got sick of it and gave up.
  •  Sounds like you're in NC (none)
    Democrats have not grasped the fact that the South is no longer a one-party system--well not at the level of local organization at any rate.  I had similar experiences trying to volunteer for the Kerry campaign in 2004.  They were enthusiastic to have a "volunteer" but not a clue about how to put them to work.

    The precinct structure in NC long ago withered on the vine.  The precinct captains were the primary canvassers who got the right groups involved.  No voter ever had to face someone knocking at the door--until 2004.  That is one thing the Kerry campaign did--whether it was a help or an irritant is up for debate because it was a departure from the way politics was run in the South.  The more prominent precinct captains were always the ones who got whatever patronage was going on in the system.

    To a great extent having a precinct structure in North Carolina is going to take a lot of organization in places that never knew they were a precinct other than on voting day.

    •  This is the way it is in a lot of places. (none)
      I'm in Florida, the disorganization here is very demoralizing - and we're a critical swing state!

      "The collapse of confidence in the Republican leadership is not enough to elect Democratic leadership." -Dean

      by MarionCountyDemocrat on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:11:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yep, NC (none)
      But the times they will be a changin'.

      We have no Governor nor Senator race this midterm. Seems like the perfect time to build at the local level.

      If we can up the Dem turnout a bit and GOP doesn't improve (they have nowhere to go but down) we may make some real inroads.

      But if not this year, then the next and the next.

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:33:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Elephant in the Room (none)
    All the Democratic "pundits" and "strategists" have all danced around this issue. I have yet to hear any prominent Democrat (other than Dean) say that the main problem with the Democratic Party is its infrastructure. All the other problems mentioned (message, candidates, money, insert your problem here) can be traced back to the party's piss poor organization.

    "The collapse of confidence in the Republican leadership is not enough to elect Democratic leadership." -Dean

    by MarionCountyDemocrat on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:10:24 AM PST

  •  Astoundingly important post (4.00)
    Great post about the nuts and bolts of the Democrats' recent problems. But there is much room for hope:

    1. Every problem is an opportunity. We are close in most elections because the core of what we're about - a just, progressive society - resonates with most Americans. It's so much easier to fix websites and doorlocks than a warped world view that keeps revealing itself as leading to failure. Our upside is huge if we take our game from a 3 to even just a 5. Meanwhile the Reps under Karl have a machine operating in the 9.8 range. Where are they going to go from there?

    2. Your comment about fixing the Democratic Party rather than starting a new one is dead on. It ain't perfect but the Democratic Party has more members than the Republicans nationally. It has the history of creating social security, medicaid, driving the civil rights, women's rights and gay rights movements. It led us thru WWI, WWII and the Cuban Missle Crisis. It started the Moon Landing project and created peace, prosperity and a surplus during the 90's. Why give up all that over a few hundred votes in FL in '00 and a few thousand in OH in '04? Let's take back our party. We're the loudest, smartest, most involved Democrats and if you want to get nominated you gotta deal with US! You hear that Hillary?

    Very inspiring Demondeac. I'm with you all the way.

    "I shall follow the light of reason, express my honest thoughts, help destroy superstition, and work for the happiness of my fellow beings." - Robert Ingersoll

    by JavaManny on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:11:29 AM PST

  •  NYC party (none)
    Well, I typed "Democratic Party" and "New York City" into Google.  First link was a very nice website, with introductions, dates and times of meetings (with countdown clocks), bios of members etc.

    I couldn't pursue this more right now (I'm just taking a little break at work) but it certainly looks good at first glance

    "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants, and the creed of slaves." William Pitt

    by plf515 on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:13:00 AM PST

  •  Here's an encouraging example (4.00)
    underway as I write, except, with caveat:

    This is a "pulling-up-by-the-bootstraps" while skidding on thin ice (to mix metaphors) situation for the Dem Party in a deeply Red state/county.   My constant thought watching this one is, "Does the name "George Armstrong Custer mean ennything to you guys?"  Not to be discouraging to 'em there, but let's get real...

    I know their Dem chairperson personally, and she's a real legal-eagle powerhouse.  A Deaniac since before January 2004.   She organized a very effective grassroots .org in her area for Dean (when she was just a mere Deaniac, not a chairperson).  When Kerry got the nomination, she switched her .org capability over to work for Kerry, and did she ever...day and night, all the way up to the bitter end, late on that fateful November night 2004.  (I remember getting the cell phone call from her.  Sad, really sad, on my part, but she was stoically philosophical.  I said, "Why?  How can you be so calm about this?"  "Because I've done everything I could possibly do to change this outcome." [emphasis mine])

    Okay, fast forward to January 2005 or so, and the shakeup of the local Dem party leadership.  The current chairperson won the elected position by write in vote, so she was, in effect, drafted by the local Party.  This is a volunteer position, btw, not paid, like the local Repub chair position is (about $75k/year, I think.)

    And she's been slogging hard ever since.  How well I know this.  (I keep tabs by phone and email.  Not my district, not my state.  But I'm definitely interested and concerned....see "Custer" comment above...)  

    I went to visit once in about March 2005, and was appalled to see how poverty-stricked the local office was.   They were using ancient computers, with only, like 64mgb of ram (haven't seen a machine like that in about 10 years), and they didn't have enough cash to send a needed election flyer to the printer, so I paid for it out of pocket that day.  They were just busted financially.  (Outgoing leadership apparently did nothing for the party, who knows, there's speculation, I understand...)

    Now, about a year later, they've got bucks in the bank, they've got a whole new upgraded computer system throughout the office, with security added, and I understand they're beginning to be felt in the area.   There are many disaffected Republicans needing some place to turn to!  "Republican Rehab," AirAmerica Radio, calls it. <g>   Membership and $$$ are pouring in.

     (The Prince of Darkness, Karl Rove, even had to make an appearance in the area during a recent local election, evidently, because the Democrats were making such inroads against their Repub candidate.  Black box voting, anyone?  But I digress...)

    Madam Chairperson is a real inspiration for putting her energy where her convictions are.  She got the attention of Howard Dean to the area, with apparent delightful success for the local party.   Dean stated publicly that he was proud that one of his devoted "Deaniacs" was such an effective "grassroots" warrior and now party chair executive.  See link reported here by local Kossacks:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    However:  here's the caveat:  an appalling situation recently occurred:  the local Democrats in the area started eating their own.  WTF??  

    It seems that a small faction of local "Progressive Democrats" (their official name, I understand) are resentful that they didn't get control of the local party.  So they've started a petty cat-fight with the local DEC (Democratic Executive Committee, which includes Madam Chairperson).  They incredibly, went to a local left-leaning weekly rag, (you know, the free kind that publishes all the entertainment events in the area, etc.) with a spiteful, one-sided story of near-malfeasance against my friend, Ms. Devoted, Volunteer Chairperson.  

    The rag published the tabloid story without checking any facts, so now they have caused chaos and roiling controversy in an already difficult area for Democrats.  WTF??!!  (Would never happen where I live.  We stick together and would never eat our own in front of leering Republicans.)  

    For any of you affected in that area who read that tabloid story, I can tell you, I have seen all the evidence and the story is unequivocably false, distorted and biased (for what reason, I can't discern, since it is allegedly left-leaning.  Did someone slip the rag some big $$$ for advertising dollars to print a smear campaign?  Who does that sound like?  Hmmm....)  

    (If this is your Democratic DEC Chairperson, I strongly recommend you email the HQ and inquire for the other side of this sleazy smear action.  Many have written rebuttal letters to the rag, and in enthused support of the DEC Chair's leadership, refuting all allegations in the "article", including some of those allegedly "quoted" in the article, but so far, the tabloid rag has refused to print them.)

    Anyway...the caveat is, we simply can NOT afford to be publicly fighting each other at the local level, especially in deeply Red areas, in my opinion.  Maybe we need to battle it out on the national Dem front (DLC vs. netroots fighting Dems, etc.), but shouldn't we be careful not to eat our own in our local districts?

    Gaaaaah.

    And....Bravo, Madam Chairperson.  You've done an outstanding job, as a volunteer in your area, and you're an inspiration to all  Democrats who despair that nothing can be done.  

    •  dirty tricks abound (none)
      the fact that rove himself showed up makes one suspicious.  

      these people are old hands in fucking up genuine popular expression

      keep fighting, demand a correction from the paper, don't let them get to you.

      if your friend was not effective they would not have targeted her.

      PS I agree with the others - this is a great diary! thanks so much.

      an ambulance can only go so fast - neil young

      by mightymouse on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:22:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Repub county chair makes $75K a year? (none)
      Hurray for you for counter-acting the sleazoid story, but...Republican county chairs make $75,000 a year? You have got to be kidding me! Where do they get that kind of money? How does the Democratic party plan to start paying our county chairs $75K? I'm thinking we wouldn't have the infrastructure problems we've got if our county chair persons were making that kind of money.

      A word after a word after a word is power. -- Margaret Atwood

      by tmo on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 12:55:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't quote me on that $75k (none)
        I thought I heard that in passing about that district.  But their Repub chair is definitely, ah, comfortably paid for his time in that county, that's a fact.

        Where do the Repubs get that kind of money to pay their local chairs?  Is that a snark?

        And yes, I totally agree that if we could pay our county chairs a good salary for a full-time position (and maybe in some counties/states, they are paid positions, depends on how rich the state Dem party is, I would guess, like maybe in Northern California counties?), we would see some much improved job performance.

        In the example I gave, Ms. Chairperson works tirelessly and relentlessly as if she has a paid position, by all accounts of those who know, and she does it as if there is a nation and a Constitution at stake.  Amen.

      •  This is Possible (none)
        through a recurring donor program. Check out my blog on reforming county parties to find out more:

        http://reformfloridasdecs.blogspot.com

        It maybe focused on Florida, but the prescriptions I talk about can be applied nationwide.

        "The collapse of confidence in the Republican leadership is not enough to elect Democratic leadership." -Dean

        by MarionCountyDemocrat on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 02:55:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  are you in tampa? (none)
      gotta wonder because there has been publicity here too .... but as it turned out .... most of it was true and our chairwomanhad to appologize, refund and then resigned and then renigged on the resignation .... and our local candidates aren't being assisted, precinct files aren't going out, training is at a standstill, our chairwoman is under the misunderstanding that the VAR softare is not availabe till Spring and its up and running now ... we just need the $$$ but noone trusts her with the $$$.  And because of the offenses, there is a state-wide judicial com hearing this sat .... and we're just trying to get PROUD FLORIDA DEMOCRATS elected
      •  Tampa? (none)
        Not even.  Follow the link I gave.  

        Nope. Don't get confused now.  If y'all are havin' some real and legit problems with your Dem Chairperson, take care of it.  (But as quietly among the Dem constituency as possible, would be my recommendation.  Why give the Repubs the satisfaction of watching the infighting?)

        That's a different issue than what I addressed as being a baseless character smear campaign that appears to've happened in another county in your state.  

        What's up with your STATE Dem chair person/s, btw?   Why is all this happening on their watch??

        No, NOT the Tampa area.  Not related to my post, anyway.  Good luck with that, ya'll need all the good help you can get down there.

        (I firmly believe that none of us are gonna get any traction until we bring Florida more into Dem play.  Which is the emphasis that my friend, Madam Chairperson made to Gov. Dean while she had face time with him.  I hope he got her message.)

  •  Quote by Ashleigh Brilliant (none)
    "A really unfair method sometimes used to take over an organization...is to attend all the meetings."

    Rubus Eradicandus Est.

    by Randomfactor on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:17:36 AM PST

  •  Forget Precinct Captain.... (none)
    Go for County Chair!

    LetsFight. re handle: Fight the radical right is the sentiment!

    by letsfight on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:18:26 AM PST

    •  too much too soon (none)
      a county chair cannot succeed without devoted precinct workers ... deacondem might become a fine county chair, or even dare anybody suggest state chair, but to build concensus and organization, needs to:

      • become familiar with the inner workings of grass roots organization and
      • develop the kind of credibility that can only be developed by improving performance at a very local level

      BushIsWeak.com ... somebody really ought to register this domain name ...

      by wystler on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:25:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My status - Democratic campaign mgr UN-(ret.) (none)
    After 10 years of doing zip, yesterday I came back.  So did 2 other guys I had never met - all 3 of us back after 10 years.

    Stop, listen, look around....somethin's goin on

    ;)

    "Time to clean out the crap in Congress" - Jesus (D) Nazarath

    by llbear on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:21:11 AM PST

  •  Central problem: ACCESS (none)
    Every County (or large precinct) needs a permanent headquarters.

    And these headquarters need regular hours. Even if it is just three hours on every other Saturday, at least people then know where they can go to volunteer, pick up materials, and talk with a live person.

    Having a headquarters for campaigns has been essential to the success stories I've been involved with locally. People see the sign and drop in -- with ideas, offers to volunteer, and checks. They have conversations about issues and get their friends to do the same. It provides a place to store records, maintain a database, and encourages you to meet regularly (because you don't have to find a new venue and set up every time).

    As we get close to any important election, we have
    hired full- or part-time staff to increase access. But this has been limited to the local level.

    The big problem is that of the chicken and the egg: Our County Party says it has no money. It has no money because it generates little excitement or confidence. It generates little excitement or confidence because it has no volunteers. It has no volunteers because it is unresponsive. So it needs a headquarters, for which it needs money...

    The way out of this cycle is electing new leadership, which genuinely commits to working with rank-and-file Democrats.

    "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read the 'Union'

    by Hudson on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:23:29 AM PST

    •  One of my ideas: evening office hours (none)
      Let's face it. Volunteers have more time in the evenings. (No offense to night shift workers).

      I figure I can find enough people to have office hours from 7-10 p.m.

      Then we can have coffee and treats. We can have a fun environment, too.

      As it is now, the HQ is only open 10am to 1pm.

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:22:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  One night a week (none)
        have something called a "Cafe". One guy at my computer club instituted this, and it's been a raving success. He was absolutely right -- people love the title "Cafe".

        I absolutely second his insight in this way -- people love to socialize, they love food. You mentioned it -- always make sure there's food ther. Some people love to cook and are good at it! Others will just buy donuts or bring juice. All are OK.

        Ours is 9-1 on Sat mornings, but if you're doing evenings, have it Fridays. You "think" everyone else has a raving social life on Fridays -- if they're over 25, hah, and possibly before then, too.

        Try to show a "progressive" or "alternative" movie at your Cafe if you can. All work and no play... leaves no time to NETWORK and get to know each other and have fun. All of which are vital to building a community that will get things done.

        Another thing, when you get your office, put out a donations box. NEVER get rid of it. ALWAYS have it there. Ours is about 8"x6"x14" tall -- solid wood,  with a big slot in the top, and a hasp for a lock.

        People put money in it! Every little bit helps. We used to have "free" donuts. I put a sign on it asking people to help keep the donuts coming... People started putting a lot of money into it. Like 2-3 times as much as we spent on the donuts.

        If you give people an avenue, they'll give.

        In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

        by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 12:11:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  that's our first goal (none)
      permanent headquarters.  i was so happy when we adopted that.

      of course, they put me in charge of raising the money to make it happen.  (working on that now)

      but do you know we still have ppl on the exec. committee (bless their heart) that say "do we need a headquarters if we don't have any candidates."

      grrrrr.

      thank god most of the committee is sane (like me ;)) and said overwhelmingly (hell) YES!!!

      •  Friendly Business-owner? (none)
        This is the kind of thing you can often get donated froma friendly business person. Maybe it is only a desk in a spar office. Better if it is a store-front for walk-bys or drive-bys. Uh...
        •  we have a person that consistently donates hq (none)
          for no charge, but he is a real estate mogul and he rents the site out from under us w/no warning if he can find a lessee.

          one year we were in our hq for 3 days b4 this happened.

          not good.  def. not good.

          so we're trying to find a dem that will at the very least reduce rent for the space and give us a long-term lease.

          the thing is, many dems are scared to give outright support to the party.  the people who do donate enough money to sponsor an event, often don't want their names listed.

          i have my eye on someone to ask at our next meeting and it might go well.  the thing is, it's futile to ask at this moment b/c we have NO money.  not for electricity, water, or anything.

          but after our spring event, things will be different and the boulder will be rolling downhill for a change.

          •  Much as hate to say it... (none)
            bake sale. I used to just LAUGH at them. But then I participated in MoveOn's bake sale -- couple years ago.

            Now -- unfair analogy, because MoveOn put out a lot of publicity about it, and we're in a metropolis. People would drive up, grab 3 cupcakes, and hand over a $100 bill. Other people would come up and spend, you know, $3-8. on goodies. People who had baked got excited when they saw their stuff fetch outrageous prices, went home, baked more, and came back.

            With 8 gabillion outlets (starbucks etc.) selling such junk food at outrageous prices, you'd think it might have occurred to me that bake sales actually work.

            You can have a bake sale and raise money from Republicans, if you have it in the right location. (Innocent smile.) (Just need low-key signage.)

            In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

            by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 12:17:55 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  I HAVE IDEAS! (4.00)
    My whole blog is devoted to reforming county parties. Check it out:

    http://reformfloridasdecs.blogspot.com

    It maybe for "Florida DECs (Democratic Executive Committees, or county parties)" but these prescriptions can be applied throughout the country.

    Enjoy!

    "The collapse of confidence in the Republican leadership is not enough to elect Democratic leadership." -Dean

    by MarionCountyDemocrat on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:25:36 AM PST

  •  I heartens me (none)
    a diary here that is both critical about the present and optimistic about the future of the Democratic Party.  There are too many people who are interested in doing a puff piece for "last week" (which is just as dangerous as railing against the party with nothing positive to say).  Thank you for balancing both and encouraging us to keep working.  I look forward to reading more from you in the future.  Rec'd!

    I will never disappear. I will always work for peace. Cindy Sheehan

    by Cather on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:26:31 AM PST

  •  Sometimes it's easy... sometimes it's not. (4.00)

    My personal experience with volunteering met similar resistance or incompetence. A friend of mine exerted a huge amount of effort, and finally got to be half-precinct captain. Even then, when she showed up first in line for the county meeting, she was 20th to sign in because the "in-crowd" had already met behind closed doors.

    Your report about the difficulty of entry into the local Democratic Party has several possible interpretations (all of which I think are true):
    - (1) Dysfunctional Management; long-termers just holding down a chair between elections
    - (2) It is human nature to work with known factors (friends, culturally similar)
    - (3) Intentional barriers to maintain control and keep out people and ideas they don't like.

    Perhaps you mostly need persistence to push through barriers 1 and 2, although you can see how difficult-to-open the gates might be to busy people, different culture from present club members, minorties, less-educated.

    Barrier number three requires strategy, intentionality, and knowing when to keep your mouth shut. I know, it's supposed to be democratic, but think about it more like getting a new job at a company where you have to start at the bottom rungs, perhaps even a company where you don't agree with corporate policy or the corporate culture. You're not going to change things right away, but build a resume over time. In the short term, competence, courtesy and volunteering for the dirty jobs can gain you respect.

    In the medium run, generating money, voter registrations, volunteers and ultimately voters moves you up the ladder.

    Speaking of resume building: Join a non-profit board with community visibility. Learn how to fund-raise. Make lots of political friends. Dress nicely. Speak articulately.

    •  Excellent advice (none)
      Shorter version: you need to be a politician?

      (Politician does not need to be a dirty word).

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:14:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  One thing to keep in mind (none)
      regarding the intentional barriers.  Sometimes they can be a bad thing and keep out people who would make a good contribution.  But it's a bad idea to try to knock them down altogether.  This is not a social club.  If you have no barriers to entry - or if they are not guarded - you get situations like what happened near here a few years ago, when some Larouchies almost took over an entire district.

      If we are not careful Republicans could do the same.  So the question to ask is, is this a barrier that is serving the necessary purpose of preserving the mission of the organization and protecting it from outsiders who are opposed to that mission? Or is it just a barrier that protects the positions of the people already running things? Maybe it's even both...

      The point is just that these situations can be complex and that it's important to let the right people in and keep the wrong people out - and that can be hard.

      How can we get over it when people died for the right to vote? -- John Lewis

      by furryjester on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:44:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's nice to know it's not just here (none)
    Though it's also pretty depressing to know that it's not just here.  Part of the reason I volunteered for YearlyKos was that the local Dem party was pulling the same stunts with me.  I can't see how anything is done.  At the same time, if just one effectual person breaks through, we just may save the party.
  •  You're right (none)
    I live in Contra Costa County, which is east of San Francisco, on the otherside of the hills from Oakland.  So after reading this article, I Googled Contra Costa Democrat and Contra Costa Republican.   GOP's site is slick and professional looking and well layout. AND they've got a volunteer link.  The Democrats look like a web page for a failing clown school. It is utterly disorganized and just try and find anything.

    Ok, time to sign up...and why to I suspect that joining the local Democratic party is going to be much harder than it has too be.

    http://www.ebaydemo.org/
    http://www.contracostagop.com/

    •  Check out the local Democratic clubs (none)
      The clubs are full of vibrant activists -  ex-Dean supporters & others. They funnel time and strategy into a host of local and statewide races. (Not to mention central committees. The part of Contra Costa I'm in is part of the 14th assembly district, and at the last 14th AD election we filled the room with residents voting in a progressive "fresh horses" slate.)

      This page of links is from the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, which is a bit more Oakland-Berkeley focused for local races. But it's got so much going on that some Contra Costans join it too in addition to their favorite local club.

      In Contra Costa, the Lamorinda Democratic Club is quite active, for example.

    •  Hey, not fair, I choked (none)
      Looked at the Republican site first, thought -- yeah, what's so great?

      Then opened the Dem one, and started laughing and choking. Good good almighty, mighty mighty. I am glad Mz Lucy is not still with us to see that. Rest her soul.

      Good grief.

      In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

      by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 12:22:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  UGH! (none)
      Holy crap, what's wrong with this picture???

      WOW. That SUCKS.

      I don't like Bizarro World... I want to go home to America.

      by willers on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 09:00:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If you can't find info by county, look by town (none)
    I live in a small town in Massachusetts, but I can find out a lot of info on line, and I have never had a hard time finding someone who can use me to go around with petitions or do visibilities, or place yard sigs or register voters or drive people to their voting place.

    Presidential politics: __ supported John F. Kerry in the last election. According to unofficial vote totals for 2004, Bush received 1,717 votes and Kerry received 2,197 votes.

    In the November 2000 election, __ County strongly supported Al Gore. Countywide, 110,010 people voted for Bush and 178,400 voted for Gore.

    Electoral College: Massachusetts has 12 of the Electoral College's 538 votes.

    Campaign contributions
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     Dem/Rep contributions, by Massachusetts county
     Congressional campaign totals, in Massachusetts districts
     Presidential campaign totals, by Massachusetts metro areas
     Top contributors in Massachusetts
     Grading campaign finance disclosure in Massachusetts
     Federal donor name lookup
     Federal donor ZIP lookup
     Neighbor search - Check contributions by address

    Census & demographics
     __ population, race & ethnicity
     County data
     State data
     Data by street address

    Elections
     Massachusetts elections board
     Federal Election Commission

    Government
     
    __ local government
     __ County government
     Massachusetts state government

    Media
     Daily newspapers in or near _
    _
     AM radio stations in or near __
     Commercial FM radio stations in or near _
    _ Public & educational radio stations in or near __

    TV stations in or near_
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    __area

    Office holders
     Find your current state & federal representatives
     Biographical info for Massachusetts state & federal representatives

    Parties
     Massachusetts Democratic party
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  •  ARGH (4.00)
    Yes, this drives me nuts too. People are always marvelling at my organizational skills, so when I come across things like this it makes me crazy! And when I try to help, they always, ALWAYS say things like "no thanks, we're already doing that." I offered to be a web, or at least a Kos liason for a local senate race, and was told "no thanks, we already have a Berkeley PR firm working on that." Have they been posting here? No. Do they have a working website yet? No. ARGH!

    Same thing at the county level -- the county groups that I managed to find, after 6 MONTHS of looking, I found by the graces of someone HERE telling me how to find them! I assumed I had no local county groups until 2 weeks ago! I tried like hell just to FIND them before the 2004 election without any success. Now I'm being told that if I want to participate, the only way to help is to get elected to an office (!) in their organization and go to their monthly pancake breakfasts to talk about things. Sorry, but that's 1) a 1-hour drive over ultra-winding mountain roads each direction, 2) more of a time commitment than I can really make right now, and 3) not a very efficient use of volunteers, IMO.

    I keep telling these people, like the Whos talking to Horton, "I'm here!" and the only way they seem to want to use me is on THEIR terms. I'm a WAHM (work at home mom) and 3 days a week I'm a single parent. I CANNOT go to far away meetings, I CANNOT be getting myself elected to offices, and I CANNOT be driving all over the countryside on my precious Saturday mornings that my husband is actually home with us.

    I CAN make phone calls while my son is at school. I CAN do professional copywriting and editing for FREE. I CAN do website design. I CAN post campaign news to Kos and other places. I CAN gather signatures, campaign, and otherwise help the party in my area of the county (which is geographically isolated by mountain roads... we're pretty forgotten up here because the townies don't want to drive them). I CAN (and have) donate to campaigns. I CAN do a lot of things...

    Why doesn't the party give a shit that I exist?

    Well, to be fair, the campaign manager for the local candidate did send me .pdf files of the petition in lieu of filing so I can gather signatures, and he has thanked me several times for helping cover my area of the district. But that's as far as I've gotten.

    Part of the problem seems to be cliques/clubs (AKA group dynamics). I've found this to be the case in every aspect of society, from social clubs to religious groups. Once the group forms and has a relatively steady membership, the group members become more and more familiar and insular, and less and less receptive to new members. "Old Timers" are always given priority over new people, no matter how skilled the new person may be. New members must "prove themselves" if they are admitted at all. I have found this to be true of pretty much all groups I've worked with, from MoveOn and the Democratic Party, to small local religious meetings of 8-12 people.

    I hope the party wakes the fuck up very soon... and I hope us gate-crashers can find a way to revitalize the hollow, pitiful shell of what the Dem party has become. It's time to wrest the keys away from the ineffectual clique and get this classic Mustang racing again.

    I don't like Bizarro World... I want to go home to America.

    by willers on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:48:55 AM PST

    •  because of this diary (4.00)
      at our next executive committee meeting i am requesting that all inquiries that come in to our chair (who is listed of course on the state and district party websites) be forwarded to the committee, essentially hitting all of the auxilliaries and precincts.

      b/c i am concerned that people are getting missed and are not being involved in our group.

      it's long been speculation, but this diary makes me want to do something to make sure that ceases.  immediately!

      •  Brilliant (none)
        It's better to have such emails from newbies go to a team. That way, if one person is busy, somseone else can handle it.

        You just need to figure out a way for people to let each other know if they've contacted the person.

        In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

        by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 12:45:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  do you think it will make someone (none)
          angry to be contacted by more than one person?

          mb it would be encouraging?

          i can say with confidence that we would not all be contacting them about the same thing.  so it wouldn't be repetitive.  

          •  Ummm -- do you mind offers of help? (none)
            for your projects? I thought not. Just a wild guess.

            If they're as isolated as they claim -- well, doesn't it help to have a critical mass of 3-6 people working on any project?

            Etc. I can't imagine that he would mind. If he does, he can not reply or something. I think he'd be thrilled.

            In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

            by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:59:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, crumb, please ignore the above (none)
            I didn't check the parent to your email. I suggested 2 people contact the guy in CO to help with his website, and that's what I thought you were asking about.

            I'll answer separately about your question.

            In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

            by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 02:01:36 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Definitely not optimal, however (none)
            Better contacted by 2 than no one, eh? As this whole thread demonstrates. The best thing would be to work out something funny to say if you were the second person... so you and the callee could laugh about it.

            With that said, the thing to do is if someone calls the person, then send an email to the rest of the group saying you did so.

            If you can set that up in a sophisticated way online, great. If not, emailing 2-6 people every time would be fine.

            I set up something similar once myself, the group receiving the notice. It's good -- sometiems one member of the contact group will be off their feed, and others can take care of it. Ours runs on a group bulletin board, so it's very easy to open the folder, see if there are new messages, see if they've been replied to. But it can be done with less sophisticated technology.

            In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

            by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 02:17:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Hi again willers! (none)
      I was so delighted that you were able to get in touch with your local party folks.  I am not really surprised at some of the problems you are having but I want to encourage you that they CAN be overcome.  Basically, you just need to keep going to meetings and talking to people until you meet the right people.

      I have been involved for a little over a year now with my local party (and previous to that I have professional campaign experience).  Some of the leadership is very resistant to allowing new people to do anything other than basic precinct work - which is very important, but this can be frustrating for people interested in more of a leadership role.  In my situation, I had asked about getting a seat on one of the standing committees (which cover various things: precinct operations, national affairs, state affairs, women's rights, etc.) I was told I could not join.  Yet, at a later meeting they announced they were looking for a chair for one of the committees.  I followed up and pending a vote by the re-organized committee, I will probably be taking that position.

      What I have found is that the lower level leadership and the rank and file often have a greater understanding of and appreciation for the types of contributions people like you and me can make.  Once you locate those people and get to know them you will find opportunities start to open up to you.

      And in the meantime, the work you are doing with the signature gathering is very important.  If you can get someone from either the local party or the campaign to give you a list of houses in your neighborhood with Democratic voters, then you can go door to door, and at the same time as you get your signatures, you can be informing people about the candidate, finding out if they would vote for him/her, correcting your list for people who have moved away or died, etc.  This is very basic level party building work that is tremendously important.  I would recommend going through the campaign; if they are able to get you the list they are probably able to see that the information gets back into the voter file afterward.  So you should talk to them about that.

      As for your web skills and copy editing skills, I would ask around and find out who maintains the county party's website and who puts together the newsletter, and offer your help to those people directly.  They are the ones who actually have to do the work so they may well have a different response to your offer than do the self-appointed gatekeepers.

      So... it takes work, probably more work than it should, to get tasked with useful and interesting work... BUT it is totally possible and you are definitely on the right track.  So please do not give up!

      How can we get over it when people died for the right to vote? -- John Lewis

      by furryjester on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:55:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks guys! (none)
        Yeah, I asked for a list of who was in my area so I could get signatures from them, and was told "Oh... I need to check with (whoever) to be sure it's okay to give that to you." I mean, I can understand about not giving out personal info to someone you just met on the phone, but geez louise, do you want signatures on that petition or not?? And no, I never heard anything back.

        I also never heard back what I was supposed to DO with said petitions... I think I have to drive them to the county registrar's office myself and get them notorized, but I really don't know. There's half a day gone for me (about 3 hours total trip time).

        I think, upon further reflection, that while I'm there I WILL pick up one of the county committee forms and get elected to my district since there is NO representative from my town whatsoever on the county committee. Even if I don't go to the lil social gatherings and "volunteer opportunities" (which apparently consist of a parade float and manning a booth at the county fair each year), at the very least I can be a contact point in my region of the county which is currently completely ignored and unrepresented.

        I don't like Bizarro World... I want to go home to America.

        by willers on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 11:06:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Voter file (none)
          The sheets they would give you more than likely contain a lot of personal information about the voters: name, phone, address, birth date, voter registration date, voting history... so, if they don't know you, and you are requesting them outside the context of a scheduled group canvass or something of that nature, then I'm not surprised they'd want approval from up the chain.  That sort of thing has been pretty standard on campaigns I've worked on.  You don't want to hand off voter file information to any random person off the street.

          So call them back and bug them... maybe spend a weekend day outside the grocery store or mall gathering signatures, to show them you're for real. Also, if you can get the lists of Democrats, get them to show you how to pick out the strong Democrats, and start off by making some volunteer recruitment phone calls! These tasks are lots more fun with a team.

          How can we get over it when people died for the right to vote? -- John Lewis

          by furryjester on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 11:17:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Petitions (none)
          Check to see if your state board of elections has a website; if so, they should have the petition regulations online.  You may well need to get them notarized (since you're the one who collected the signatures), but it doesn't have to be at the registrar's office, if there's a notary closer.

          Someone will have to gather the petitions and deliver them once they're notarized, but the campaign really should be handling that, since if they're competent (big "if", I know) they'll want to keep track of the total number of signatures they have.

          In my experience, candidate campaigns are much worse than local parties at making use of local volunteers and organizations.  It seems like a no-brainer to use people with local knowledge, but they all seem to care more about control and hand-picking their people than using any structure that's in place, and no matter how good their intentions, they're ephemeral organizations who never get around to passing the information they collect back to the permanent people.

          Good luck on your county committee efforts, that sounds great!

        •  Elsewhere on this thread (none)
          is a guy in Colorado who might relish some help with a website for his county. Couldn't hurt his county to have one. Might help.

          He said he was swamped.

          If your local folks are too busy to use you... why not git ahold of someone who wants help.

          This guy:
          http://www.dailykos.com/...

          His page:
          http://www.dailykos.com/...

          In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

          by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 12:40:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Awesome! (none)
            Thanks! Looks like the East Bay Dems need some web work done too.... YIKES. (Look upthread... it really is like a website for a failing clown school, no joke!)

            I don't like Bizarro World... I want to go home to America.

            by willers on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 09:03:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  28% (4.00)
    That's just pathetic. What are the rest of you doing? Only 28% of us actually get off our asses and are doing something?

    No wonder we never win. When I got involved, and it was easy for me, I went from knowing no one and not knowing what was going on to having too much to do.

    Mind you, this is in fairfax county which is very very organized. My precinct captain and the other captain I met really have their act together.

    In any case, all of you who aren't doing anything, get off your asses and start working. Don't bitch about not having enough time. 100 people doing 1 hour of work a week can get a shitload done.

    But you know what? Fairfax county is a perfect example of what can be done when dems get off their asses. This is a red state. And Fairfax county turns bluer with each election.

    So stop being a voyeur and get to work!

    •  Ummm, (none)
      isn't it incumbent upon the dem party to run candidates who are actually interesting and inspiring?

      "Fundamentalists in America like to vote for President Bush, but elsewhere they're violently opposing him." Maureen Dowd

      by Superpole on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:41:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Dean is interesting and inspiring . . . (none)
         . . . and he is pleading with us to get involved at the precinct level, then up.

        Try speaking with the voice of "we Dems" instead of "the Dems" and see how it feels.

        Might be empowering.

        Be the Democrat you want to see.

        by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:59:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  that's a great sig line (none)
          Try speaking with the voice of "we Dems" instead of "the Dems" and see how it feels.

          Might be empowering.

          i'd love to do a poll on dkos.

          q.  do you think of dems as someone else or yourself?

          a. no or yes.

        •  I'm an Independent (none)
          and will remain so until the democrats get their act together. that includes winning in 2006 and 2008.

          I live in a blue state.

          "getting it together" means winning crucial states like Ohio and FL. if the dems can't figure out how to win those states, they are history.

          "Fundamentalists in America like to vote for President Bush, but elsewhere they're violently opposing him." Maureen Dowd

          by Superpole on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 06:34:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you for sharing n/t (none)

            In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

            by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:45:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  why not (none)
            help them get it together?  i mean truly, forget the politicians.  the PARTY is just a group of people trying to make a difference.  one more person may be the difference between success and failure.
            •  I Have Made Suggestions Here (none)
              and have been mostly ignored.

              one suggestion is for the democratic party to fully embrace Russell Simmons and others like him in the black and hispanic communities.

              failure to do so simply means continued failure in states like Ohio and Florida, and thus failure overall.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/...

              I have no idea how much more proof you need than the 2000 and 2004 elections in which the dems attempted to win with mostly the caucasian vote. want to keep losing? stay with that "strategy" and see what happens.

              "Fundamentalists in America like to vote for President Bush, but elsewhere they're violently opposing him." Maureen Dowd

              by Superpole on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 11:54:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  i'm sorry, but who are you talking to? (none)
                you're obviously not talking to me. perhaps you replied to the wrong post, but my point is that the democratic party isn't the "they" you keep referring to.

                i have absolutely nothing to do w/political strategy.  no one pays me for my opinions.

                i do want more blacks and hispanics involved and i do that by getting involved in their neighborhoods as a representative of the party.

                i can't make decisions about whether the national party will embrace russell simmons.  but i can make the effort to include blacks and hispanics when i'm out organizing and try to convince them to take their rightful leadership positions in the county.

                i don't even know what to say to the rest of your post it's so off the charts in relevance to what i said to you.

                but the reality is that i am on the ground working and making a difference locally.  you're sitting here lumping me in w/failed strategy on the national level.

                one of us is being productive, can you guess who it is?

                •  You Wrote: (none)
                  Why not help them get it together? in reference to my earlier comment the dem party needs to get it together.

                  so yes, I'm talking to you.

                  kudos to you for your local efforts. are you working in key states such as Ohio or FL?

                  as far as being truly effective in helping the dem party win back the white house and congress. Russell Simmons can bring more voters in than 100 of you or I working in the trenches.

                  sorry, I don't really buy into the romantic notion of "let's build up from the grass roots"-- simply because we're out of time. we don't have twenty years to work with here. you might think we do, but I disagree.

                  again, the dem party is making a fatal error by not adopting NOW way more effective means and methods for getting voters to the polls in states like Ohio and FL.

                  you can't seriously believe the dem party can continue with the sort of "strategy" that lost them Ohio in 2004.

                  "Fundamentalists in America like to vote for President Bush, but elsewhere they're violently opposing him." Maureen Dowd

                  by Superpole on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 06:10:06 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  i work in a key state (none)
                    nc.  long overlooked and written off even though we have more registered dems in this state than republicans, even though we consistently elect a democratic governor and council of state, and even though our state house and senate are run by the democratic majority.

                    no, i don't think the dems can win w/their current strategy but you and i differ on the cure.  i'm sure that russell simmons can reach more people than i can.  is he worth 100 of me?  i doubt it.

                    and that's not me being arrogant, that's the reality of an aged and failing infrastructure going to hell and no amount of face time with the most influential of people, black or white is going to change that.  but 100 of you and me can.

                    russell simmons could be courted and won and our infrastructure which is needed to elect people will still be in shambles if everyone took your approach. and we would still lose elections.

                    i am never going to be the person who argues that we do enough outreach to minorities esp. blacks.  i think the amount of attention we pay to minorities is pitiful and i don't think you can ask a group to save your ass every four years if you don't give them anything in return.

                    but, i am not going to wait for the democratic party to do what i expect, i am going to lead them to the water from which i want them to drink in my small section of the country and i expect others who are fed up to do the same.

      •  Nope (4.00)
        If you don't like the candidates, it's incumbent upon you to work to change the structure that's producing them.  If you decide you're going to sit it out until somebody nominates some candidates that inspire you, you're asking someone else to do the heavy lifting for you, and hoping their priorities are the same as yours.  It's true that the higher the office, the smaller the relative influence of each of us, but that's all the more reason for everyone to do their part.
    •  getting involved is appreciated... and rewarded (none)
      In 2004, I organized a GOTV trip from the SF Bay Area to N. AZ. Our Democracy Turtle Soup group chartered a Green Tortoise bus for the trip to Flagstaff to do door-knocking and other work engaging folks in Flagstaff.. doing voter reg. even as far out as Page, AZ, where I got to go knocking on friendly doors with the candidate, providing support not previously available at the local/regional level. By working directly with the local party, we learned a lot, and were able to free up local volunteers for other forms of outreach.

      When I returned just before election day for some followup work, I was given an assignment: deliver the party election-watcher paperwork to the Grand Canyon (South Rim) precinct. Glad to be able to help!

  •  I think we live in the same county. (none)
    At least, mine also has a Bethabara in it. And the behavior is the same.

    -9.0, -8.3. The less a man knows about how sausages and laws are made, the easier it is to steal his vote and give him botulism.

    by SensibleShoes on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:55:10 AM PST

  •  I crashed the gates and all I got... (4.00)
    was a room full of tired septaugenarians ready to pass the baton to anyone, ANYONE. So they got me.
    My Story:
    I got involved in politics for the first time during the caucuses here in CO in 2004, going as far as the county assembly. I had just moved to  a very red county in rural CO from MA.
    Now I am chair of my county, and don't even want to be. I got asked to be vice-chair because I was the only one under 60 in the room who came to meetings after the election. Then, two months later, the new chair moved out of state without telling anyone, including me,  and lo an behold, I am the head of the Central Committee. Now I am trying to figure out WTF is going on. Andy everyone with experience stays quiet and offers no help.
    Our corner of the Democratic Party is in a persistent vegetative state. People are so used to losing that they treat it as a social club / gripe session, and don't even want to try to change anything. What is a phone bank? Who knows, because these people won't even call their neighbors to get them to caucus.
    I don't know if it will come out of its coma. I'm working on it, but I have a 50-60hr / week job, two very young kids and am broke, with absolutely no political experience and knowledge of the area. But I can't quit, because noone wants the job.
    Maddening. Discouraging. Makes you want to start from scratch. But then what?

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't. So damn, if I won't.

    by benheeha on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:55:25 AM PST

    •  see if your state party has a database (none)
      in NC we call it the VAN network.  if it doesn't, that's ok.  call the board of elections and get them to burn you a cd with voter information on it. make sure they include voter history.

      if you're not familiar with how to query in a database program like access, find someone who can.  hell, send the file to me, and i'll help you.

      what you want to query for is just the dems who vote religously in primaries as well as generals.

      those are your core dems.

      start calling, or hold a meeting and send out 100 postcards at a time to new people from that list.

      each time sending to a new group of 100.  that's $24/meeting if you choose the postcards (free if you call) and hopefully will generate enough hits that you can start building your machine.

      •  Thanks! (none)
        I've got the voter rolls (excel), but it doesn't have a history. Just registrations. It does list when they became affiliated, so I guess you could screen some folks as to how long they've been Dem, but not how active or fervent. I have a short list compiled by a previous chair of "regulars" besides the precinct captains & central committee, but it's a small group, and most attend from time to time. What we need to do is get the rest to participate. I've made calls myself, and everyone is always too busy to drive 20 minutes to the monthly meetings.

        Damned if you do, damned if you don't. So damn, if I won't.

        by benheeha on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 12:50:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  you can get the voter rolls (none)
          w/history.  if you've already gotten a list from the boe, sometimes they charge you (for us, it's $25) for additional cd's.  but each county is different.

          i think it's worth it in the end because it will help you locate those most dedicated to our cause.

          in this area, that's an even harder strategy b/c we rarely have anything to vote for in primaries, but it's still a fairly good indicator of who cares.

          also, i don't know how other states do it, but here we have a democratic chief judge (b/c our governor is a democrat) and a democratic judge at each of our precincts.  if you have something like that, your boe should be able to give you a list of those people as well.

          they're usually good volunteers.

      •  the VAN (none)
        is part of the 50 state program that the good Dr. has unleashed ... each county in each state should have it ... mine, unfortunately, we don't yet as our chairwoman doesn't think its ready "till the Spring" ....W R O N G  it was explained at our state convention and the county north of me has got it, conducting training and getting to roll off hard with it probably next month!  NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE RED STATES OVER!
    •  If you're in CO, (none)
      I think you should be able to network with some people, possibly quite young, who'd be willing to pitch in and help. Yes, including travel.

      At the least help you with a website, or weekend phoning when cell phone minutes are free.

      Email the DNC and ask for help. Have them send one of their CO people to help you for a bit, eh?

      CALL the DNC and talk to them. The squeaky (polite) wheel gets the help and all that. They don't know you're there and what you need till you call them.

      Best of success to you!

      In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

      by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 12:47:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You would think... (none)
        I think you should be able to network with some people, possibly quite young, who'd be willing to pitch in and help. Yes, including travel.

        Unfortunately, there are few young folks in the area who become politically active. The only school is a technical college, so these are basically hard working, self-supporting types.
        Don't get me wrong, I am trying to enlist the State Party, but even they are shaking their heads. The DNC rep for our area has come and seemed a little shocked at how little of an organization there is here. I mean, this place is deep red. Less than 1/4 registered Democrats, though we are equal in number to "independents" (i.e. libertarians). The county next door has been more successful, so I'm trying to get them to come over and give us a presentation.

        Damned if you do, damned if you don't. So damn, if I won't.

        by benheeha on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 12:56:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I feel your pain, honestly (none)
          And I'm deeply grateful for doing what you're doing. Remember that.

          I meant some wacky idealists going to college somewhere in CO -- or, depending on your location, in another state close to you, but 100-200 miles away. Wacky enough to be willing to drive in and help.

          OR to help via the Internet, like I said, building a web site for you, or using cell phones to make calls for you. I know there are hot beds of liberalism in CO, I used to live next door. And have a cousin in CO in one of said hot beds.

          Again, thanks for what you do. Sounds like a great idea to get the folks from the county next door in.

          In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

          by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 11:47:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Dean (none)
    Howard Dean needs to know this is that bad.  I thought I was the only one.  I used to be Dem Precinct committee woman but there was nothing to do and nothing to meet and noone to meet or do it with so I gave up.  I too wrote that I would volunteer and received no response.  Howard needs to organize this party from the grass roots up and use peoples talents whether that is just telephoning or paper work or computer work.  There is an army out there that needs to be organized.

    The shrub needs to be pulled he is terrifying

    by libbie on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:06:44 AM PST

    •  I think he knows and . . . (none)
      Tagaris at DNC is reading this diary (he gave me mojo last night when I said I would write it if I got mojo -- e-mailed him this morning and he said it was open in his browser).

      I just hope that the money, 1/3 of DNC funds, that is going into the fifty state precinct building strategy isn't going down a black hole.

      We need to get in there quick so we can use the money, training, and other DNC provided resources to good effect.

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:12:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent Diary and Great Pep talk.... (none)
    ...but you diary shot up a red flag for me. What happens to all of our small donations once Bush's economy tanks? BushGOP will still get money from the corporate fascists, but where will Dem funding come from?

    Soot in my hair and stars in my hands

    by Alumbrados on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:14:57 AM PST

    •  lots of places (none)
      Including rich non-fascists. Keep in mind that while millionaires were for Bush, billionaires were for Kerry.

      But in any case if the economy tanks, business leaders will turn on Bush the same way they quietly turned on his father. And this time around there will be ample precedent for supporting Democrats because Democrats have shown they can create jobs, balance budgets, and even cut taxes. The only hardcore GOP supporters are the fundamentalists and rednecks. Seriously. The more reactionary and less empirical economic conservatives will take longer to persuade, but when push comes to shove there are just too many negatives on Bush unless he keeps them happy.

      Bush is doing well by the military and oil industries for which he has resurrected the lemon socialist economic architecture of the Cold War but that's pretty much it. There is some trickle down to other industries, but it's no Clinton administration.

      •  Good points... (none)
        ...if enough people realize the coming downturn was caused by Bush it could actually lead to even more action to get Dems back in power, because they'll have plenty of time on their hands at the very least.

        It almost seems to me, though, that the Dems will have to come up with something along the lines of the Marshall plan for our own country to fix all of the damage caused by BushGOP. If anyone can do it, the Dems can. Wouldn't that be something to see?

        Soot in my hair and stars in my hands

        by Alumbrados on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 11:32:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  something Clinton never gets credit for (none)
          When Clinton took over from Reagan/Bush in 1993, the economy was a wreck. In 12 years, the fiscal retards in the GOP had quadrupled the national debt - and our debt was owned by Japan, who seemed ready to destroy us economically. Think I'm kidding? Read the alarmist/xenophobic Michael Crichton potboiler "Rising Sun" to recall that not so sunny time. It's not like Clinton started with a huge surplus like W did - he started out with an economy in the toilet. And the Repubs fought him tooth and nail on everything - including balancing the budget (every Repub voted against it and it took Al Gore to break a Senate tie).

          Clinton inherited shit and turned it into gold. He created a record number of new jobs and grew the middle class, especially the black middle class, for the first time since the 60s.

          Bush has done the opposite. He is the anti-Midas.

          Yeah, if we ever take it back we will have our work cut out for us. That's why I favor those with terrific organizational and leadership skills like General Clark. It's going to take someone of rare ability.

    •  Poor people are more generous than rich (none)
      The parts of the country with the highest generosity (by percentage of income) are poorer regions. Alabama & Mississippi in particular are very generous. Let's say you donate $100/month (non-profits and politics). At $24,000/year, that's 5% of your income. At $48k it is only 2.5%. Bill Gates dumping $100 Million into medical research is a great thing, but not a huge percentage of his assets.
    •  The money will come from US (none)
      from the people of the United States, from the people of this country.  Dean proved that it can be done.  It will be done.  Save America on $50.00 per month.

      Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

      by StrayCat on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 02:16:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Weak, Very Weak (none)
    it's been obvious to me for some time now the democratic party is not all that interested in grass roots efforts, nor are they interested in the involvement of the people to any significant degree-- and there's a reason.

    the proof is your experience, the fact that the democratic machine more or less ignores the efforts of someone like Russel Simmons, and they didn't embrace/endorse Dean who had clearly tapped into the grassroots folks-- and raised a lot of money with the help of these folks.

    instead they supported Kerry, and old school dinosaur who doesn't have a politically creative  bone in his body. zero.

    "Fundamentalists in America like to vote for President Bush, but elsewhere they're violently opposing him." Maureen Dowd

    by Superpole on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 10:39:04 AM PST

    •  the primary voters (none)
      didn't tap into dean.

      assuming primary voters aren't robots programmed by the DLC.

      i assume they're not at any rate.

      the primary voters tapped into.

      kerry.

      •  Problem = Iowa Caucus (none)
        Until we have a more diverse primary season, with new blue states early on, I think we'll see Iowa caucuses selecting the safest, most boring folks in the field. No offense to them, I think it has to do with both their temperament and the pressure of being the loan First Hurdle. But it seems that more than one state should go at the same time in order to take pressure off Iowa and spread some of the power around.

        Damned if you do, damned if you don't. So damn, if I won't.

        by benheeha on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 01:01:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Primary Voters (none)
        also.

        tapped into.

        Gore.

        two losers.

        equals a winning.

        strategy going forward.

        ???

        not.

        "Fundamentalists in America like to vote for President Bush, but elsewhere they're violently opposing him." Maureen Dowd

        by Superpole on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 06:27:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  transitional times are always difficult (none)
      but that doesn't mean that the Dem can't get better, and that it can't change.  Dean is proof that it can.  We get rid of the repub lites, and go for the fundamentals and we can win.

      Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

      by StrayCat on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 02:19:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd Say (none)
        about half of the dem party is either scared of Dean-- or they just don't like him.

        Dean is not proof the democratic party can change.

        IF he would have been the nominee in 2004, that would have been the proof we needed.

        "Fundamentalists in America like to vote for President Bush, but elsewhere they're violently opposing him." Maureen Dowd

        by Superpole on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 06:30:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not fast enough for you? (none)
          I look at it the other way round.

          No, the Democratic party from the top down didn't embrace Dean.  No large institution, no matter how nimble, reforms itself that radically that quickly. If you have counter-examples, I'd love to see them.)

          However, the Democratic activist base did embrace Dean, and elected him to chair the DNC unanimously. Out of a field of 7 candidates.

          That's where the change happens. It bubbles up from below.

          Don't mourn: organize.

          by Malacandra on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:07:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Dem Activist Base? (none)
            what's that? about .5 percent of all dem voters?

            I would agree with re: grassroots change "bubbling up from below" if not for the fact it now costs $400-$500 million to run a presidential campaign under the current system.

            with that kind of money in play, the grassroots impact is almost nil.

            "Fundamentalists in America like to vote for President Bush, but elsewhere they're violently opposing him." Maureen Dowd

            by Superpole on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 11:44:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Percentages (none)
              The percentage of voters in the "activist base" is misleading - without them, nothing gets done.

              Secondly, the cost of presidential campaigns is only one factor in the success or failure of the party as a whole.  For one thing, Senate and Congressional races are pretty important. So are Gubernatorial races. And while all those are expensive, the big story in the 2003 primary cycle (in case you missed it) was the grassroots fundraising taking place on the internet.

              Candidate search and development starts with the grassroots. Voter registration and GOTV is directly related to the grassroots efforts... and all the big money hasn't succeeded in electing Democrats to the White House in the past several cycles.

              Historically, Democrats had been able to beat Republicans when they've outdone us in fundraising - because they always have done so - when we had good local organization.  Now they have us beat on that count, and now we're getting creamed.  It may all be just a big coincidence, though.

              So... what's your solution?  Become bigger whores than the Republicans to the corporate interests?  Not possible. Or we can focus on improving our party organization locally, where elections are won and lost.  And take advantage of small donors in large numbers...

              If I didn't believe in the value of grassroots power, I'd be living a far more leisurely and more stress-free existence.

              Don't mourn: organize.

              by Malacandra on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 03:29:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Good Take (none)
                thanks--

                when I talk about the problem of big money in the presidential race, I'm referring to the influence it has on who actually gets picked to run-- and IMHO this decision gets made before the primaries even begin.

                the notion that "we" pick the candidate via the primary is laughable. who picks the candidates running in the primary?

                my solution is not to become a "bigger whore"; it's disturbing you would even suggest it.

                I'm thinking of Paul Wellstone and how he got elected senator in MN.

                one of my suggestions has been and always will be the dems have to bring a percentage of non voters back into the system. but as you can see, there is basically zero effort made on that front.

                why are these voters just written off?

                "Fundamentalists in America like to vote for President Bush, but elsewhere they're violently opposing him." Maureen Dowd

                by Superpole on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 06:01:05 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sorry... (none)
                  I didn't mean to offend you. I was positing a clearly absurd proposition - I didn't intend to suggest that was your position.

                  I agree that the Democrats have to bring more non-voters back. This is why I'm a broken record about having our central committee establish a permanent precinct plan.

                  That term sounds dull, but in practice it means having someone in your neighborhood who's willing to throw a pot-luck and/or block party a few times a year to help build local community - and do at the very most a real soft-sell about registering to vote (especially as a Democrat).

                  But mostly it's about networking with the neighborhood, getting a fix on the pressing concerns of his/her neighbors... (which we damn well need to know)  and also become a known local fixture: not some stranger who gets the door slammed on her/him when going around the neighborhood introducing the local candidates and/or trying to get signatures on petitions.

                  I desperately want to bring the neglected voters back into the process... and back into the party.  I want there to be credible folks on the ground that provide a substantive alternative to the empty calories provided by the slick media on Fox News.

                  That's what the grassroots means to me.

                  And we can, and do, pick and nurture candidates. Certainly a lot happens prior to the primaries, but voting in the primaries isn't your first shot and influencing that process... not if you are part of your local party organization.  

                  The candidates who run for the offices we pay the most attention to - Congress, President, Governor... they start out running for their central committees... school boards... assembly.  We can have a say in those people we nurture when they are starting out, selecting for the qualities we'd like to see in candidates for higher office.

                  All of this is a long-term process, which is why it requires persistent committed effort to achieve it... and that's why it's hard. And that's also why we haven't seen a lot of it lately.

                  We were seduced into believing that everything in the party should be controlled from the top-down, but the best experts that money could buy... who'd produce those flashy TV spots that would translate directly into votes.  

                  Well, while we were focused on that, the Republicans were working the churches, getting it together on the local level... nurturing a generation of evangelicals as school-board candidates.  They saw politics as part of an all-encompassing effort to promote their values - both Christian and Corporate -  in a society that they felt was antagonistic. They worked from the bottom up AND from the top down... all to the same objective.

                  And I thought I was a Good Citizen because I'd reliably show up to vote in primaries and general elections. But I'm 46 and I never donated a cent to a candidate before 2003. I never worked for a candidate before 2003 (not counting when I was 14!). Like most of us, I would be frustrated that the Democrats weren't fielding very appealing candidates to my way of thinking... which is very liberal... but I was focused on my family and my career and I didn't see that I had much of a voice anyways.

                  Now I realize that I've got a voice, and it goes beyond my vote. It takes a lot of work to get it out there... but we're not just the puppets of impersonal gods. We can take control of this party, if we have a mind to put our money where our mouths are.

                  Don't mourn: organize.

                  by Malacandra on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 10:31:35 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Thanks Again (none)
                    for sharing your thoughts.

                    we can certainly agree that it's all a lot more work than we realize.. and more than most people can do.

                    this is why I refuse to do more than donate $$ to candidates I support-- until the democratic party wises up and meets me half way.

                    there are black and hispanic leaders out there that can bring in wayyyy more votes than you or I, yet the democratic party more or less ignores these leaders-- forget inviting them into the main power structure-- because apparently that would offend racist democratic voters?

                    gimme a break. racists are not voting democratic for numerous reasons.

                    "Fundamentalists in America like to vote for President Bush, but elsewhere they're violently opposing him." Maureen Dowd

                    by Superpole on Wed Feb 15, 2006 at 10:48:43 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Apologies from an "Officer" (4.00)
    Let me apologize for all the crap you went through.  But more imprtantly, let me thank you for all the crap you went through.

    I've been working as a field dedicated campaign staffer for quite some time now, and fully understand your frustration with the party at the local level.

    I do however agree with you that the organization is getting better.  In fact, let me quote something from a Major Senator's (and '08 presidential hopefull) blog report to his staff and himself.

    from Red State.
    Krempasky post a link to the Democratic Party website that now provides tools for campaigns and candidates to make and manage fundraising homepages.  This in conjunction with previous services for online contributions like ActBlue have left Republican bloggers asking their party leaders "where's our sites and tools?"

    Granted, this is for fundraising, not field operations, we seem to be scaring the Republicans.

    Howard Dean started the 50 State Program in which the DNC hired and trained organizers in ALL 50 states.  This seems to be filtering down.

    I, as a campaign organizer, always encourage all my volunteers to join the local committees after the race and convince my candidate to turn over the volunteer database to the local committess.

    I think the problem lies therein, that campaigns and committees don't work together as much as they should, and needs to end today.

    </soapbox>

  •  Whoa! (none)
    At least I know the person to contact at the University City Democratic Club, even though I have been so disorganized, I have not done so. The person would be delighted to have me come to meetings.
  •  Christine Cegelis (none)
    This is why it is SO important that the progressive netroots get behind Christine Cegelis in her primary race (IL-6) NOW.

    In 2004, Cegelis forced Henry Hyde to actually defend his seat for the first time in decades. Despite being massively outspent and despite Hyde's popularity in the district (his constituent service has always been excellent), she took over 44% of the vote. Hyde found really having to run for his seat exhausting and decided to retire after this term.

    Meanwhile, Christine has been slowly building Democratic party organizations in an area (mostly DuPage County) that never had them before. 5 days before the filing deadline for the 2006 primary, Chicago Congressman Rahm Emanuel sends in his own workers to circulate petitions for his handpicked candidate to defeat Cegelis.

    While Tammy Duckworth has an inspiring personal story, she doesn't live in the 6th District, she doesn't know anything about the 6th District, she was heretofore unknown in the 6th District, she doesn't know the issues (when recently asked about the Bankruptcy Bill, she commented that companies should not walk away from their pension obligations -- really!), and 97% of her financial support is coming from outside the district.

    Christine has a network of local grassroots activists, mostly from within the district, who are knocking on doors and making phone calls for her. This is the kind of one-on-one communication that his helping build a real Democratic Party in the Western suburbs of Chicago. It is what the Republicans have been doing for decades out there.

    Emanuel is raising $1 million so he can blanket the district with mailers and TV ads right before the primary. That is NOT how to build a Party and it will not create the base of volunteers the Democrats will need to take on Hyde's handpicked sucessor (a former Tom DeLay aide named Peter Roskam).

    Defeating this attempt by Rahm Emanuel and other Chicago politicos to tell the residents of the 6th District who they should choose will send a LOUD message to the people who are resisting change in the Party. It would be a tremendous victory for grassroots democracy.

    The Illinois primary is on March 21, but early voting begins on Feb. 27. PLEASE consider giving to Christine Cegelis to help us fight the good fight here:

    http://www.cegelisforcongress.com/...

    And if you live in the area, please volunteer. We need boots on the ground. That's how we're going to beat the money machine:

    http://www.cegelisforcongress.com/...

    "We can win elections only by standing up for what we believe." --Howard Dean

    by Jim in Chicago on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 11:00:08 AM PST

  •  (mark this for later) (none)
    (great post.  here's hoping the next version of Scoop includes a bangup diary-&-comment bookmarking capability)

    I had to destroy my tinfoil hat because it was beaming coded messages into my brain.

    by stevelu on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 11:08:56 AM PST

  •  I guess I'm a "veteran" now (4.00)
    I got involved in my local party in the spring of 2004, after the Dean primary campaign.  It was an extraordinary pain in the ass to find out what meetings were the ones I needed to show up at, what it meant to be a member, and what the process was for just about anything.  If there weren't Deaniacs who were already on the inside, I don't know if I would have made it through.

    But the thing I found out is that it wasn't that they didn't want me, or weren't willing to listen to me, it was just that they weren't very good at bringing new people in.  Keep that in mind when you're frustrated with the fossilized old farts and it seems like they're afraid of you. There may be places where the local party is an exclusive enough club that they really are trying to keep out new blood, but I suspect most places are the same as here -- they're happy to have your help, they're happy to give you a position of responsibility if you show the least amount of initiative and ability, they've just forgotten what it's like to be someone who doesn't already know how everything works.

    These are small organizations, and you can have a serious influence.  Just keep at it, and make sure your willingness to work is a bit stronger than your desire to tell everyone else what direction to go, and you'll do fine.  A year and a half ago, I was a recent volunteer and not even a member yet; now I am that precinct captain, have helped to resurrect the candidate recruitment process, and am working on strategy to retake the legislature before the next redistricting.

    Let me tell you, if you're feeling "how can we beat these evil bastards and turn the country around" there's no better antidote than being part of the people who've beaten some of them!

    •  i think you're right (4.00)
      even now that i am "in", it's still a hassle to get things through committee.  not necessarily b/c we don't agree, but b/c the old guard is coming from a different place entirely.

      i swore in the beginning i would be respectful and defer to their experience, but often their experience is doing things poorly, losing elections, and letting our structure go to hell.

      so, i'm beginning to lose patience.

      they want you.  they haven't the slightest idea of what to do w/you.  but they're happy you're here.  

      (until you and your ilk vote them down--then it's war, but that's another diary) ;)

  •  so you're sayin' (none)
    the party's gettin' better.

    right?

  •  I often wonder... (none)
    First this is an outstanding diary!!

    Second, I often wonder what it will take to revive the Democratic grassroots?  Any ideas?
    What is our problem?  Have we moved so far to  the center we don't inspire people much anymore?
    Well, a generation ago we had a grassroots. We took up CAUSES that generated PASSION - the civil
    rights movement, the war on poverty, the anti-war
    movement, and so on.

    We need to take up national health care, living wages, expand the anti-war movement, and revive good old fashioned FDR type class warfare.

    I recently read an article (don't recall the link) stating we have just a few activists in West Virginia where the Republicans have many.   No wonder that state has gone Republican.

    A generation the Republicans were in similar shape. I saw a reprint of a 1976 New Republic article that stated the Republican Party might  become irrelvent. People say that about us today so it can change. But it changed for the GOP only
    when they quit being a "me too" party and took up
    issues that energized their demoralized base. The
    GOP saw the big business agenda inspired nobody-
    but abortion & church/state issues could inspire millions of people and they did.

  •  North Carolina precincts (none)
    I'm a precinct chair who will have his fourth annual meeting on Saturday. I called and called and called for about a week after Election Day 2002, didn't hear anything for months, and then, two weeks before the 2003 precinct meeting, heard from our new county chair: he invited me to organize my precinct, which I did (by inviting people from three other households on my street).

    After three years, I think I'm just now starting to get the hang of this job. And so I urge everyone reading this diary to take to heart the fact that what we're doing now may not even pay dividends by 2008. It's going to take a while for the new blood to reinvigorate the party, even in places where there isn't active opposition to new people joining the party.

    One final note: in North Carolina, heads of precincts are precinct chairs, not "captains." We're elected by Democrats in our precincts every two years.

    •  don't be shy about using the state's resources (none)
      we have a training committee now and they will come out to your county and do a precinct training for chairs and those interested in organizing their precinct.

      if you haven't had one in your county yet, you should inquire about getting one.

      www.precinctpower.com

    •  What is an "organized precinct"? (none)
      According to the NC DP, it is a minimum number of names on a list and a meeting once a year.  You are just propping up the tired old regime if you settle for that.  

      You need to continually recruit people to your meetings and reach out to and educate all the Democrats in your precinct.  You also need to read the entire plan of operation, not just the party involving precinct officials and annual meetings.  Remember that your Party belongs to you, not to them.  Be prepared to lead rather than follow.  And above all:  Assume nothing.

      PS The website is Still Under Construction.  Big surprise.

    •  Training . . . (none)
      Yeah, but it would be nice if the state party actually sent trainers to specific places, and did so frequently, rather than expecting counties to take the initiative.

      And I'm pretty well versed with the plan of organization. And I've increased attendance at my precinct meeting every year, though it's really a tough sell.

      These two items are actually related. It's like people have noted elsewhere on this thread. The party is stuck in a vicious cycle in some parts of the country, and it goes something like this.

      1)Some county parties have no incentive to set up a grassroots alternative to the networks that have kept Democrats in power for decades -- and actively oppose efforts by activists to do so, even though the networks are aging out.

      2) It's hard to build the grassroots when people suspect that the party isn't interested in their views on policy, and really would prefer not to have grassroots involvement except at election time.

      •  Training is a great idea. (none)
        The common training thread that I found last election cycle was that most (though certainly not all) "trainers" either:

        a) Generally weren't involved in politics before 2004, and were clueless in some areas (though very sincere) OR

        b) Seemed to be under the notion that a potential voter would eagerly vote for a Democratic candidate, if only they were contacted by a volunteer.  Not only does this not take into account the not wholly converted Democratic voter, but there also was no stagegic planning so that voters in swing districts weren't contacted 20 times the weekend before the election (ask me how many times I heard "it's the fucking voting people AGAIN").  

  •  My experience (4.00)
    After Dean did his huge national teleconference, which I was unable to attend in a group setting because I was at work, I saw one of the "things to do" was to call up your local party and get involved, volunteer and everything.

    So I did.  I emailed, I called, I signed up for email lists.  It's been at least 3 months now since I did all that and I have yet to hear from anybody.  State or local.  The only people I ever hear from is the DNC.

    Living in California and in the Silicon Valley no less its incredibly disappointing to see just how lame the local Democratic Party infrastructure is.  I should try harder I guess, but unlike you, I know there is a local Democratic infrastructure in place.  Its a set-in-its-ways, ineffective party structure and I'm quite sure that my efforts to get involved and "rebuild" would be met with serious resistance.

    Oh well...time to make some more calls.

    •  The Voice of Experience ;) (4.00)
      If you are truly committed to being a foot soldier - be it calling, walking, stuffing envelopes, using your computer skills, etc. - find the address and report at a time of your convenience.  Tell anybody and everybody your skills and interest.  IF you do a little work, they'll have your number right quick and you can work more than you'd like.  Last campaign, I foolishly volunteered with MoveOn and later for the local Dems.  I never called or walked so much in so few hours in so many different neighborhoods.  Here's another TRULY cool thing-you will meet the most incredible, wonderful people you have ever met in your life.  That alone is priceless!  :)  Sorry to jump in late to the thread, but I read the original post and was nodding the entire time.
      Like they say:  just DO IT.  You will never regret your time spent. (In spite of the losses of 2004, I remain hopeful and rev-ved up, and I'm a mom, grandmom, teacher, grad student, and tree-hugger, and I should be demoralized.)

      Think what you are doing today. -Fred Rogers

      by JanL on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 03:42:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How can I help? (none)
    Consider me a recent convert to politics in general. Maybe we can even thank the administration for that, as if they weren't so, well, bad - I probably wouldn't even be on this site today. Consider me someone who leans left but doesn't necessarily trust the Dems to get it right. Consider me someone who wants to get more involved, but doesn't really know where to start.

    I want to get more involved in politics, make more of a difference. I don't want politics as usual, from the pseudo-cons or the Dems who've yet to really earn my trust. Hell, I'm a registered Independent at this point. I'm tired of choosing between the lesser of two evils. I want to help.

    So where can I go? What can I do? I can give some money to candidates, and while I do that somewhat, I'm already stretched thin.
    While my time is also stretched - I want to volunteer. Where can I find out more about this? What can I do to help? What can I do if I believe in the cause, but not the local individual?

    Actually, I'm in FL-07, where repub John Mica is running unopposed. I don't even know if it's too late to change that. Hell, I'd run against him, just to give him something to think about.

    Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do. - James Harvey Robinson

    by pi1304 on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 01:13:42 PM PST

    •  THEY DON'T WANT YOUR HELP (none)
      Until you grasp that fundamental truism, you aren't even at the starting gate.  I have heard the same complaint from countless Democrats over the years, all across the country.  I have never once heard a Democrat tell me they called their local party and volunteered to help and someone called them right back.  I'm sure it happens, but it's a very rare exception, especially outside of the last couple months before a major election.  Local parties mostly exist so a few people can be insiders who keep others outside.  As far as I can tell, many of them have absolutely no other purpose.

      What can you do?  That depends on a number of things.  If you want to discuss some options, go to my profile and send me an email.

      •  Um (none)
        I have never once heard a Democrat tell me they called their local party and volunteered to help and someone called them right back.

        I called my local party and volunteered to help and they came out of the woodwork to welcome me.  That was in Corpus.  In Newport News, VA, it was easy to get a name. I emailed him, he emailed me right back giving me the website addy and encouraging me to attend the monthly meetings.

        There ARE good Dem organizations out there.  Find out what you're facing before you put your head in the door and your foot in your mouth!

  •  This should be easy (none)
    It won't be, but it should be.  

    Our enemies are nothing.  Unfortunately, they are a well-financed nothing and money = speech.  
    .

  •  Pennsylvania Petitions Out Tomorrow (4.00)
    After checking the poll results, I am suprised that so few Kossacks are involved in local politics.  Preaching to the liberal blog choir just doesn't get it done.

    Local committeepeople in Pennsylvania are elected during the primary, which is in May.  If you want to be an elected committeeperson, get a petition and get your Democratic neighbors' signatures.  Petitions come out tomorrow and are due sometime in March.  Details can be found at the PA Dept. of State webpage.

    Chances are that there is an opening for a comitteeperson in your neighborhood.  Our town is split into precincts, with two democratic committeepeople per precinct.  Ours is one of the few municipalities in PA with few or no openings on the Dem committee.  Chances are that if you live in PA there is a vacancy on your local committee and you will run unopposed.

    I've been a Dem committeeperson or a local Dem footsoldier for all of my adult life.  The town where I live now was run by the GOP for 107 years.  The conventional wisdom was that it would always be a GOP stronghold.  A few of us - my wife chief among us - got involved in local politics, and eight years ago we took over local government.  Now there are no Republicans in any elected municipal position.  So, it can be done.  It must be done at the grasroots - don't expect any help from the county party or the state party.

    Get involved.

  •  My county (none)
    Same story. I was able to help the Tim Kaine election. I have been very frustrated because we should be and should have been getting ready for the 2006 cycle. I believe we have a real chance against George Allen. I also believe to make our chance better we should be doing more to make people aware of his votong record. The guy gets an F from the CDC on children's issues.(I suggested last June that they send out a report card for George Allen. Never heard anything.) The guy tried to make the forty hour work week a thing of the past. The majority aren't going to remember this though. Not without the Democratic party making it an issue. To me, it isn't just about getting people to know our candidates, but making people aware of how bad the other sides candidates are consistently over and over again. The GOP shouldn't be able to hide election year.
  •  What is a DINO? (none)
    Democrat In Name Only (DINO):  Someone who has never done anything for the Democratic Party, but calls themselves a Democrat because they once checked off a box next to the name "Democrat" on a voter registration card, and because every 2-4 years (or maybe less) they vote for people who have a 'D' listed next to their names.  DINOs can be easily identified by their vociferously expressed opinions about what The Democrats oughta do.
    •  Intersesting reframing (none)
      No longer a DINO,

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 02:29:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Works for me (none)
        I have to say that I often lose patience with the endless complaints by progressives concerning the DINOs (old definition) who have been running their party all these years.  I agree many of them weren't much, and some were downright bad.  But at least they've been showing up.  I think under the circumstances, I'd be a little less quick to point fingers.
        •  Uh (none)
          It's always nice to know where and when to show up in a grassroots effort?

          Unfortunately the Democratic Party only seems to want to meet up at election time. Then they are totally floored when they lose to an incumbent.

          I imagine I'll get a chance to volunteer for Webb or Miller and then in between have to limit my activism to telling people that the GOP has no ideas.

          I have time on my hands but not enough to build the infrastructure on my own.

          •  The infrastructure is fine... (none)
            It's just that there isn't any meat on the bones.

            The Democratic Party can't meet up, only Democrats can.  However, since you asked...Democratic Party meetings are held every year, and not at election times.  The format is a tad different from state to state, but the schedule is basically the same:

            Precinct meetings in February/March.
            County conventions in March/April.
            District conventions in April/May.
            State conventions in May/June.

            But Democrats don't show up when "the Democratic Party" meets up...they just show up at election time, to campaign for candidates, who lose to incumbents because Democrats didn't show up the rest of the year to prepare to win the election.

            And the circle it goes 'round and 'round, and the Democratic Party it spirals down and down...

  •  New poll option: will volunteer (none)
    I've done my share of volunteering and activism and got burned out. The last few years, I have been too busy and need to achieve some professional goals, but by the time the next presidential campaign rolls around and Wesley Clark is our guy, I will be out there.
    •  This is the problem (none)
      Democrats need to figure out how to stay involved at an even pace over the long haul.

      And they need to eliminate "too busy" from their vocabulary and replace it with "priorities."  Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day and virtually everything we fill those hours and days up with we do by our own choice.

  •  Deja vue all over again (none)
    this post sounds like my experience in Sarasota County Fl.  Same frustration, same lack of discipline, same sense of ennuie.  However, when I get back in April, no more taking "good enough" for an answer. Thank you for the inspiration and insight.  Let's all get together.

    Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

    by StrayCat on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 01:58:57 PM PST

  •  by nature (none)
    Dems don't share the same metaphysical urgency of today's theocratic Republicans. The former are merely trying to win elections; the latter are trying to win the world to Christ. It's easier to show up to organize when your mission has everlasting consequences.
  •  wow, we're pathetic (none)
    only ~25% of us are actually active within the democratic party.

    this might actually shame me into doing something.

  •  Idaho (none)
    Here in the largest county in Idaho, also the least densely populated, we don't even have an official Dem County Party.  We do have a woman who has graciously taken responsibility for holding county caucuses and other events.  She and I have also been instrumental in forming a County Progressive Council. Right now we are in the midst of developing a network of likeminded citizens.  Also we're holding the dem county caucus, Feb. 7.  I'm running for one of the two delegate spots to the state convention in Idaho Falls.  I'm also attending the Wellstone Camp in Boise in March.  So we're building our county dem party from scratch, with progressives in the forefront.
  •  Suggestions? (none)
    My town, county and congressional district are pretty solid blue.  The town committeepeople are split D/R but the Ds have the majority, and frankly, it doesn't seem to matter which party is in power at this level, in this town, as they all do pretty much the same things.  I'll support the local dems, but my immediate area is fairly well organized, and probably not in need of my help as much as some neighboring areas that are more red.  In fact, a neighboring congr. district still has no dem opponent for the incumbent Repub. congressman, the last time I checked.

    My congressman has a good voting record on most things, but there have been a few big problems with his stances, such as the bankruptcy bill.  Nonetheless, a primary opponent is pretty much out of the question, and we need the seat, and he just might try for Senate soon so that would be the time to act, not right now.  For now, he just hears from me a lot.

    Does anyone have any experience with working outside your own districts?  Any suggestions?

    On Bush: "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." --(borrowed from) Churchill

    by joanneleon on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 05:07:21 PM PST

  •  Before the 2004 election... (none)

    I got a call from a woman who is my precinct captain.  Up until that point, I didn't even know we had one.  In any case, she was lining up people to hand out sample ballots at the polls and so forth.

    The Dems in our precinct also have a yahoo group set up so that people can communicate with each other about upcoming events, opportunities for phonebanking/canvassing and so forth.  This is a cheap (i.e. free) and effective way for people to stay in communication.

  •  This is a great, an important diary (none)
    A tip just doesn't do it justice.  This is the real thing.  Thanks, demondeac.

    Now, what the heck does your name mean?  

  •  This Dairy is similar to my early experience (4.00)
    In 2002 I wanted to help the Democrats.  No callbacks, no emails back.  Local Democratic monthly meetings were not being held at posted times and places.  Finally the day of the election I walked in and volunteered.  Was sent to one polling location to get a vote count - period.

    Spent next two years educating myself. Learned in 2002 I should have been contacting the statewide candidates who had all the money and what organization there was. Although it was really the black team, the Latino team and the white team who weren't really speaking to each other and we had a GOP sweep.

    Go back to working on a progressive blog. Start getting letters to the editor published.

    By spring 2003 I start calling around and searching the Internet to link with a presidential campaign. Nobody does anything this early.  Finally learn of a Dean Meeting - my third choice.  Research and really like this guy but am doubtful an Easterner can win nationally. Go to July 2nd meeting and volunteered to set up a July 4th voter registration and Dean information booth at the fairgrounds.  It was only through the Dean team that I finally got to all the Democratic organizations.  Became a voter registrar and precinct chair - Most chairs are vacant and they need bodies.  In September myself and one and a half people I recruited ran a Texas constitutional amendment election.  Learned block walking and event pamphleteering.

    Just as I am thinking that if any Eastern Yankee can take Bush down its Dean, it happens.  He's the front runner. Watch in late November as the media press corps and Democratic insiders turn on Dean.  Watch the amp distorted Dean scream tapes make him a joke to outsiders.  Run my primary caucus. Go to State Convention as a Dean delegate and see that the old Texas party is now majority progressive new first timers. We may be in the Dean, Kucinich, Edwards, or Clark camps but we all want change.  See Progressives revamp the state party platform and push through many Kucinich resolutions.

    Fall election letter writing for Dean campaign. Work election.  See the rural voter Bush landslide and some elements of the stealth GOP church campaign.  Only good news on Election Day is DeLay runs 10 points under Bush against a first time candidate and personally having some of my relatives stop being Bushites.  

    2005 actually get paid to work a local non-partisan city election.  (Good thing it is a nonpartisan election, I am actually working against a corrupt lying DINO.)  Election ends in a tie.  Much more block walking, sign placing. My candidate loses by one vote - however several instance of vote fraud.  Opponent takes seat and thanks the local GOP state rep., a notorious homophobic and leader in the Texas House, for making his victory possible.  Doesn't mention his begging support and endorsements and workers from Democratic clubs and labor.  Friend finds mysterious $2500 campaign expense DINO paid to the GOP legislator "who made my victory possible."  My candidate takes the vote to court and wins. He now wins by one vote. Prepares to take office.  Judge rules that his reading of Texas law is all appeals must be exhausted before he can take seat.  

    Start working for candidate who joined Dean team when I did and worked that 4th of July. She took Dean's message to not let Republicans run unopposed to heart.  We are out to defeat the GOP State Representative who got his anti-gay amendment passed. Major Dean organizer becomes a director of county Democrats.  Notice a lot more Green Democrats and Libertarian Democrats, a lot of people desperate for a change period. I'm now debating if I have time to also work for the Lampson campaign against DeLay.  A primary election is coming up and I also have to recruit workers for my new precinct.

  •  There's a lot of work to do (none)
    There are 192,480 precincts to organize.
    •  Really? (none)
      They're not all disorganized.

      Seems to me there are two multipliers we can use:

      1. Work from below to model what works as per suggestions above. Make one work then ublicize the template to multiple others
      2. DNC works from above to train trainers, etc.

      Anyhoo, all the more reason to get going and keep going.

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 06:37:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  To give some idea of the way it is (none)
        There are 50 states; 210 television markets; 435 Congressional Districts; 3081 counties; 192,480 precincts and 59,028,439 voters who voted for Kerry in 2004.

        For a better sense of the national geography, look at David Leip's Atlas of Presidential Election Results, especially this and drill down to the county data.  See if you can find a county without Kerry votes anywhere in the country.  And what you know is that the Kerry voters in deep red counties of deep red states are tough cookies.

    •  Actually, 192479 (none)
      Im a Dem committeeperson. I walk my precinct four times a year.  I call every registered Democrat and independent at least once each election cycle and during the evening of the general election if they haven't voted yet.  I check the voter list several times each general election day so I know who hasn't voted and thus who to call.  I take primary and general election days off so I can work the polls.  I update my phone list anually so I have valid numbers.

      And I do it for free.  I'm not a political hack with a patronage job.

      The sad thing is that I'm so sick of the Dems that I'm considering chucking it all and running for local office as a Green.

  •  Your experience is not unique (none)
    I wish it were, but it is not. Those of you who wish to get immediate gratification, well, DFA and MoveOn have a much better framework because they just built it from scratch.

    The regular party mechanism is calcified and atrophied, and there are petty little power struggles over turf and wings and myriad other issues, while there are dedicated wonky types doing yeomans work in the trenches with little support from anywhere.

    There is an all too typical scism between those in the seats of Power , in DC, and the rest of the party.

    There is a likewise scism between state level and local precinct level.

    There is no plan in place to fix this, and the answer will be to be the best you can be, from the ground up, because that has never been done "this early" in a campaign before.

    Thank God for Howard Dean, he recognizes this and is fighting like hell against all the entrenched interests nationally and for the first time in my lifetime is sending national party resources to the state level to assist.

    The clock is ticking; just go for it.

    Continuing the national debate---People for Change --*help us TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK*

    by MikeHickerson on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 07:01:09 PM PST

    •  MoveOn? (none)
      They were, at least as of a couple years ago, utterly and completely unreachable. I see now they JUST opened a forum where regular people are allowed to speak. Previously, they just handed out marching orders.

      I filled out a web form before the 2004 election saying I wanted to help. Yes, they were all over that... but then they completely ignored what I said I was willing and able to do and sent me emails on very short notice, such as the one telling me "make 10 phone calls to New York between this day and this day during these hours."

      Well, the problem with that was 1) I had laryngitis those days and was unable to be on the phone, and 2) I can't afford to make 10 phone calls to New York during peak rate hours.

      I tried to contact them to say "I can't do this, please have someone else do this and give me something else that doesn't involve speaking on the phone" but I found NO way to contact ANYONE. The emails could not be replied to. The website had a generic message form that was difficult to find (I did fill it out... never heard anything back). In short, the calls did not get made, and I wasn't given anything else to do because I had no way of telling them there was a problem. So they wasted me as a volunteer.

      I was very frustrated, to say the least! Since then, I see that they've done a little outreach asking for opinions, and they've opened up a forum, but I'm still pissed at them.

      I don't like Bizarro World... I want to go home to America.

      by willers on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 09:18:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The death of organized labour (none)
    has a lot to do with this.  Labour unions are on the job 24/24.  That's what they do.  When they were a pillar of support for the Democratic Party, they provided the continuity, the backbone, that is now missing.  The Republicans have a base -- the business community.  They have their Young Aryans -- the Young Republicans, who are doing all politics all the time.  Most Democrats have real lives.

    Lenin won because he didn't have a real life.  He was all politics all the time.  Just saying.

  •  This is the best diary I've ever read on Daily Kos (4.00)
    It so perfectly captures the frustration I feel as a young Democrat. A lot of people reading this site can remember times when the Democrats were real Democrats and actually winning. I grew up in the middle of the Clinton years (i.e. I wasn't really paying attention until after Newt's takeover).

    I'd like to recommend that this somehow take the form of a permanently recommended diary (obviously in a different place so as not to take up space) until these 2006 elections are over to motivate people. Personally, I'm working on phone banks and anything else necessary for Democrats in Maryland for the forseeable future. It's much mroe refreshing to get out there.

    Again, thanks for a great diary.

  •  Organizational Ideas I've Been Pimping (4.00)
    for a while, AND, I put them on a website last Memorial Day.

    this is a GREAT Diary.

    Basic Web Needs for Grassroots Organizing

    http://www.liemail.com/...

    Meetings, Agendas, Resolutions - Standard Operating Procedures For Grassroots Organizing

    http://www.liemail.com/...

    Event Planning & Calendaring Needs for Grassroots Organizing

    http://www.liemail.com/...

    MY EXPERIENCES AS A CAMPAIGN GRUNT AND PEON

    http://www.liemail.com/...

    WHY WE SHOULD DO IT - TO WIN WE NEED EFFICIENCY, TRANSPARENCY, ACCESSIBILITY.

    bon voyage.

    rmm.

    Grassroots Organizing Should Be for The Community, By The Community - NOT for "Leaders" http://www.liemail.com/BambooGrassroots.html

    by rmdSeaBos on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:00:50 PM PST

  •  A real grassroots party (4.00)
    Thanks so much for your diary.  I had a similar experience to yours.  I found our county Democratic party through a web site and attended a meeting.  Not much happened.  It was a small group of people who kept things going between elections.  I signed up to be a Precinct Committee Person - and that was the end of it.  No training, no call from anyone, no help with what to do next.  I started griping to my husband.

    And then I realized.  These were all volunteers.  Many of them had worked for years to keep even this small part of the party going.  I asked if I could do a training for PCP's and was greeted with glee.

    I went to other counties and learned what they were doing.  I attended trainings, asked others what worked and didn't work, and put together training materials.  By this time others were getting involved because the Presidential Primaries were coming up.  

    I have continued to train volunteers.  It works.  I serve on our central committee and my voice is listened to.  I have learned a lot about democracy.

    As I tell everyone I train:

    The thing about being a Democrat is that you never get to say "they should."  You only get to say "I will."  The party, especially in our counties, is not "they".  We are the Democratic Party.  The sooner we realize that, the sooner the country might have a chance to become the home we love once again.

    So get busy.  Find something that is not working and volunteer to make it better.  Thank you.  

    Maybe if mothers (and men with a mother's heart) ran the world, we would stop killing so many people.

    by chichagof on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 08:57:36 PM PST

    •  I will (none)
      I love the ring of that simple statement, "I will, not they should."

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:12:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (none)
        It has kept me on the straight and narrow when I start to gripe about how another volunteer is doing (or not doing) their job.

        The other saying that I find myself saying when coming home from meetings is: "Real democracy is messy."

        Maybe if mothers (and men with a mother's heart) ran the world, we would stop killing so many people.

        by chichagof on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 09:36:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Perfect example tonight... (4.00)
    I am a precinct officer (new this year) and was at my local Central Comm. mtg tonight. It's a pretty ragtag bunch of graybeards plus a few Kossack types who are gradually moving into positions of power.

    However... the newish party chairman, who I thought was one of us, just up and quit mid-meeting because the candidate he supported wasn't gaining traction.

    Everyone was stunned AND pissed. Into the ensuing silence another member jumped up and made a passionate speech about our party not being the perfect party, but it was the only party that held any hope for restoring our democracy. She said "I don't like giving up time with my little daughter to grapple with messy politics, but if I want her to have a better world, I've got to do it."

    All politics demend compromise, and they demand giving up some of your pet issues for the greater good. If we're going to play the game, we've got to stay the course.

    •  lot more to the story Joie (none)
      There's a lot more to the story then my particular candidate not gaining traction.  

      When on one hand the official party organization can back their candidate, but I'm precluded from publicly supporting my candidate because of some "unwritten bylaw", that's censorship -- and I didn't sign up for that.

      Again, this isn't about a specific candidate, but the pernicious influence of money in our political system.  I'm sorry if you're personally pissed, but you have little idea of the sacrifices I've made in support of a structure that at the end of day does little to "put people first".

      I've always been a political realist, and the first to compromise, but we're truly dealing with people who are little interested in compromise.

      •  Wow!! (none)
        These two comments are the capstones: a diary about the reality of local party politics brought to life in a late-night post-meeting tiff in the dark internet alley behind the clubhouse.

        Kiss and make up?

        It's Valentines Day now!

        Be the Democrat you want to see.

        by demondeac on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 12:00:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Oh yeah, we're really taking over (2.00)
    When people like Hackett whom we support are thrown out by OUR OWN LEADERSHIP.

    Diary unrecommended.

    •  Covered this in the diary (none)
      Here it is again:

      Listen, please:

         1. Today's party is not the party of next spring or next year. Being unhappy with what happens this week is being unhappy with what happened to get to this week: yesterday's party.

      Be the Democrat you want to see.

      by demondeac on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 12:57:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh really (2.00)
        And how do you expect us to resolve the 'problem' of yesterday (actually, today).

        Fire Rahm Emmanuel? Chuck Schumer? Harry Reid? Ain't happening, dude.

        •  Simple concept (4.00)
          The present was written in the past.

          The future is entirely not beholden to the past.

          If you really believed nothing can change for the better because something bad happened today, you would not be here.

          We can disagree about how to get to the next place, but to deny the possibility of change?

          We can disagree about the difficulty and the length of time it takes. I think the diary took note of the decades (and longer) of struggle necessary for historically significant changes in times past.

          I understand that things can get worse, too:

          1. Cede the field to the status quo Dems.
          2. Cede the field to the GOP.

          Be the Democrat you want to see.

          by demondeac on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 01:12:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Demondeac (none)
            I think this diary AND especially its comments should be distilled and rewritten as another diary next weekend, with another poll. And that should be done every weekend until the polling results have been turned around.

            Also, those who posted their personal accounts should do diary's themselves.

            This is the way. The local structure and local candidates they help win are the future congressional and senate candidates.

            This has to be turned around. This IS the problem to be solved. This IS how you take your country back.

            I am Canadian, so my role, I guess, is to observe.

            •  You could post diaries about it (none)
              Just ask the questions you want to see answered.

              That would be good. If you're trying to help, and not pretending to be someone you're not (party chair in AZ), then why not? Go for it.

              In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

              by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 02:23:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  What are you talking about? (none)
                'If you're trying to help, and not pretending to be someone you're not (party chair in AZ), then why not? Go for it.'

                Are you accusing me of not being Canadian? What does arizona have to do with it?

                Clearly, I am Canadian. Check all my comments, the evidence would be overwhelming.

                Even if I wasn't, what is wrong with my comments? They are positive and supportive. The problem with the usa is since 911 you have become paranoid.

                Go ahead solve your own problems, then. Do it now, so people like me can stop being concerned.

                •  Uh, the party chair in AZ was a joke (none)
                  sorry I didn't put in the little smiley thing. Did you know that 50% of guesses as to intent in email meaning are off -- roughly?

                  I truly am sorry I put it in there. I'm not accusing you of not being Canadian. I'm glad you are, and many days wish I was.

                  What I was trying to say -- I don't think anyone in the US would mind if you started diary topics about politics here. As an example to bolster my case that that would be OK, look at Jerome a Paris. He blogs here about US politics, and it's OK with people.

                  I don't think solving the problems of the USA is anything that just one person can do. Too many problems, too deep. We need all the help we can get, from anywhere.

                  Again, if you see diary trends that you like, I think we'd welcome you adding more like that. I certainly would.

                  Sorry the joke bugged you.

                  In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

                  by AllisonInSeattle on Fri Feb 17, 2006 at 03:06:27 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Very revealing (none)
            is the sheer number of recommends.
  •  Sounds like a familiar experience... (none)
    I'm in MA, and posted a diary on the inaction of the MA Democratic Party Headquarters recently.

    It's a frustrating lack of follow-thru - one which somehow appears to be prevalent.

    I'm glad you're still enthused and optimistic: it's through efforts of yourself and others that true transformation occurs, in spite of the apparent predisposition to inaction and failure to see things thru to their conclusion.

    The party, as it now appears structured, doesn't quite have fingers on the pulse of America and isn't sure how to intervene to quicken that pulse.

    Perhaps your efforts, and all of our efforts, will correct that.

    Thanks for the diary.

    Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
      Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
    Tempest even in reason's seat.

    by GreyHawk on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 03:32:19 AM PST

  •  absolutely (none)
    Absolutely NOTHING will change in our political landscape unless Election Reform ( ie. publically financed elections) are enacted and soft money is removed.

    Our whole political process if a fucking joke.

    "Fuck Voting, why bother, I have no choice. The rich give us two of their pissboys to choose from- you call that choice?" - me WE NEED ELECTION REFORM NOW!!

    by threecents on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 06:39:32 AM PST

    •  don't forget voting reform (none)
      You are absolutely correct.  "Clean Elections" and accurate, non-fraudulent elections are the ONLY nonviolent way anything is going to get fixed in the US.

      This is where all of our efforts should be focused.

  •  I Tried, Too (none)
    I also tried, just like you did, but I was far less persistent.  I checked out our local county Republican Party website, and the local Democratic Party website.  The Republican website was up to date, well-organized, informative, with lots of active links that all worked.  The Democratic Party website was 5 months out of date, looked "home-made" and when I sent an e-mail (to the ONLY contact name listed) asking about when the next meeting would be, I never heard a word in response.

    Prior to this I had volunteered to work during the election campaign at the local Kerry campaign headquarters.  The day that we were supposed to show up, even though I was on time, they told me that they had given out all their material to volunteers that showed up earlier, and had nothing left for me to do.  Mind you, this was after a big push from the Kerry campaign to get out volunteers, and I had TWICE received calls to confirm that I would show up.  So the big day comes, and I get an oh, sorry, we're out of handouts.  

    So when I looked at the sorry state of the local Democratic Party's website (not to mention how amateurish it looked), and remembered my experiences with attempting to volunteer, I just threw up my hands in sheer exasperation.  I could never have imagined such a disorganized, unprofessional, incompetent, sorry-assed bunch of people in my life.  I thought if THIS was the state of the Democratic Party, then we surely didn't deserve to win anything.

    Not having your persistence, I just slipped back into my regular life.  Although I do give to my local Democratic candidates, to the National Democratic organizations, to Act Blue, and to various other Democratic candidates around the country, I will long remember that the party at the state levels is a shambles.  More power to Mr. Dean if he can fix all this, but it is beyond my capabilities to deal with the mess our local organization is in.

    •  Dean can't fix it. (none)
      Not without us.

      If the local Democratic party is screwed up in your area, are there no people at all locally who are doing good political activity?  DFA?  PDA?

      There's a really dysfunctional central committee where I live... but we had a good DFA group with some great volunteers. We learned how to work together to sponsor some public events, do some voter registration, etc.  We really rocked.  

      Some of us started getting elected to our central committee. Those folks got really frustrated, and a few of them left it.  But we got more folks elected and appointed to the central committee over the next year - and it's still pretty bleak, but better.

      This year we're getting more of our folks running for central committee.  A few of them will win.  Things will get better still.

      That's one way to do it.

      So start out with the folks who seem to have their act together... but try to get involved locally, even if it isn't with the party per se.

      Don't mourn: organize.

      by Malacandra on Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 10:44:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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