The critical difference between Democrats and Republicans in this area is that the entire Congressional Black Caucus consists of elected representatives who have managed to graft a power center in various Black Communities on to the structure of the Democratic Party -- and win elections on that base. The CBC members actually are accountable to that coalition, and if they do not satisfy, they can be removed. The Republicans on the other hand have not sustained any elected Black Officials at the national level, and those whom they have appointed (Thomas, Powell, Rice) are distinctive in having virtually no significant relationship with traditional Black Community organizations, i.e., no black power base.
By making this point -- and making it over and over again -- we can frame the issue of which party actually encourages full Black participation. Which is most important -- participation in society's institutions, or a envelope full of cash or a check? The argument does not need to get more detailed than this.
I don't think we need a "Drudge" -- If one were to calculate his error rate it would be out of sight -- and when he is close to correct, it is usually because an insider has used him as a means to leak.
But that doesn't mean Left Blogs should not cultivate sources and encourage them to use Blogs as a parallel system. We should, and that is something missing. Josh sometimes offers up an unnamed source, but what's really needed is to cultivate party and Hill staff letting them know blogs are another way to media attention, a place for trial balloons and the like.
The success of political blogs will always be in part measured by expansion of audience, particularly into realms normally unreached by either blogs or the net itself. I have several ideas: -- a very short Blog digest with links that could be supplied to party mailing lists several times a week. There are thousands of these lists -- most just track local events -- but if something could be mass mailed by this route, it might tie to parts of the Dem party that currently do not read blogs.
Another audience we need to reach is the unattached and underorganized working class. At least in the mid-west, the place to reach this audience is in the cafes -- the small town and highway places where people stop for coffee, and do the politics of the day around a table. If we3 could find a way to organize it -- getting a nicely formatted but single article "thought of the day" copied off, and just available for coffee-time reading, I suspect we would achieve a larger and important audience. In other words don't just think office watercoolers, think truck stops.
The old idea of a very narrow window for voting is clearly a problem -- Modern life simply has too many odd schedules for work and other obligations to be accomodated in say a 12 hour window. I am not certain I like 11 days, but perhaps a 48 hour period including Tuesday election day would satisfy.
But other things need to be added to this -- first an official ratio of voting machines and sign in desks (typical bottlenecks) to the number of registered voters in a district. I do not favor eliminating precincts unless every voter has reliable public transportation if the place of voting is greater than a short walk. We must not disadvantage those who do not drive or have access to a car. If the voting window is lengthened, then the rational for absentee voting is restricted. I strongly favor limitations on who can vote absentee. (I think you must be absent from your county of residence during the entire voting window -- or be sufficiently disabled that you cannot attend the polls.)
I live in a state where we have same day registeration at the polls, and we have had it since 1974. About 40% of Minnesota Voters have used the option one or more times since 1974 -- and I don't think we have prosecuted a single case of fraud. It allows people to make corrections such as name changes or registeration errors in a no-fault way. Our state-wide electronic data base allows for constant updating of the rolls -- we have no purges -- it is a constant operation, When errors happen (and they do) you can correct with a sworn statement. What it does mean is that one poll worker has to be particularly trained for each precinct to work the system properly. (Person needs to be computer literate and able to administer an oath.)
Another reason I favor keeping precincts is because it is helpful in uncovering discrimination that disadvantages racial and cultural groups that live in de facto residentially segregated circumstances. Any change in the system must build in the ability to monitor this phenonema. We all know it is illegal and unconstitutional, but it is also a widely practiced crime.
Any reforms neet to be designed to vastly improve the transparency of the whole system, and include requirements for quality audits of all elections. If they are going to propose changing the window, then this is the chance to demand total transparency. (that means open source code in any electronic device used in any part of the election system.)
The Felons issue -- let's not forget this. Florida's clemency board is yet another bottleneck in the system. If a state wishes to have a stupid law like this -- it is obligated to operate it efficiently. I think Jeb has a backlog of several hundred thousand petitions -- and that means several hundred thousand people who have to personally appear before him.
We have to address the whole "election reform" thing as a system and not one byte at a time. This proposal is a single byte, with no rational as to how it impacts the whole system. That is the biggest fly in the bottle.
John McCain is currently 68 years old, and will be 72 in 2008. He has had Cancer twice, I would suggest the odds of his being healthy and able to run a flat out campaign in four years are a bit iffy -- so I would not predicate a Dem strategy on that assumption.
I do think the Republicans will be faced with the need to nominate someone with national security credentials in 2008. I suspect this leaves out Jeb. I also would keep my eyes on the Neo-con's -- they won't seek a nomination themselves, but will want veto rights.
Late last week I got an E-Mail from one of Minnesota's six elected members of the DNC announcint that there would be public hearings on who would be the best DNC. Four dates are annuunced at this point -- more may follow.
I probably will not attend the hearings. Served ten years on the State Central Committee and ran lots (20+) of successful campaigns over the years, but comes a time when disability and the discomfort of sitting through meetings after a certain age trumps much else. But doesn't mean I am not interested, or wish to be discounted. In fact I think the other 49 states need to know that Minnesota is holding public hearings on who should be DNC.
Forget the personalities -- focus on what needs doing and which candidate for DNC has the skill set to do it.
If we want to get back the House, we need someone who can engineer getting back Dem Majorities in the state legislatures sufficient that we can deal with redistricting in 2010. That's the key to the Republican House.
As far as the Senate is concerned -- candidate recruitment is the key. Which DNC chair can do what needs to be done here.
McCain - Feingold changed the balance between the national parties and the state parties. We obscured the meaning of this with the 527's this year -- but that won't hold. We have to rebuild state and local party structures. Who can do it?
Look -- the guy was a great lawyer for a certain kind of client -- and in NC, that got him a senate seat against Faircloth, and lots of people could have run against him successfully. But what else has he really done? Why is he Presidential?
We need to take a total vacation from 2008 candidacies for the next couple of years. We need to see who puts up a fight against Bush that is worthy -- whether that is inside or outside. We don't know that yet. It is not only a matter of who is now in the limelight, it is who moves in on the issues and system.
I keep thinking that at this point in 1928, FDR was dealing with how to dispose of Al Smith's zoo at the NY Governor's mansion without really seeming to be anti-zebra when he took office, but at the same time Louis Howe was real busy making connections with the county chair's around the country and seeing how they read the lay of the land.
Edwards -- in contrast to that kind of political smarts, is a white feather.
Ok -- this suggestion comes off the deep Democratic Bench. Before you knock about names, I think the critical question is what the DNC needs to do in the next few years? In my mind, it is to build Healthy State Parties in all the states, and this is much more of an "organizer" job than either fund raising or public relations. There are many ways to find a public face for the party for TV appearances and all -- but what we need now is to get State Parties in shape to "make a difference" in Senate, House races in 2006 -- and then we can think about 2008.
So I would nominate Jeff Blodgett for DNC. (Who you say????) well, Jeff was Paul Wellstone's campaign manager in 3 Senate races, and since Paul's death, he has been heading Wellstone Action, which is dedicated to training campaign workers, technicians, and potential canidates for entry level offices. Since WA is a non-profit, Jeff did not take sides in 2004's primary -- which might be a great advantage.
Socializing alone is not what's important -- you have to make events "good" because of the food you serve -- whether the host provides, or if you do pot luck. (and you can do both). It's just that you never have an event without "interesting" food on offer and you always advertise the food as a reason for coming to the event.
I've run over 20 campaigns (won most of them) and planning the food for the volunteers was always top of the list. I've observed winable campaigns that never thought to feed workers -- and that bond that is created by enjoying good food was simply missing -- and frequently led to infighting and a lost race. And by the way, I don't mean sending out for Pizza -- I mean real food cooked by people who know how.
The best medicine right now is to develop local party organizations that tie nicely into state organizations. In some states that may mean forcing the State Democratic Party to expand its program.
So what to do?
collect useful stuff from the campaign such as lists, all sorts of demographis stuff on turn out and all. This can be very critical to the next campaign, and no sense in wasting it and the energy that went into building it.
plan social events and forums. People need to have a little fun and also reach a deeper understanding of the lay of the land. Make certain these pull in all those under 30 voters.
Where we won local races in this election was where the Democrats focused on basics -- K-12 Education, College and Tech School Tuition, Transit, sound Fiscal management and some of the basic social services. It is not the red meat of "progressive issues" but once you build the idea Democrats are strong on these fundamentals then you can move out.
we are going to need a national movement if we are to head off Bush on Social Security Privatization. The sooner the Red States and the Red congressional districts ramp up a loud defense strategy on this, the better. We have to make every Republican in DC edgy about this -- and the only way to do it is to have a strong base in the states and congressional districts.
Patti Wetterling's concession last week included a strong promise to run again in 2006. It is widely anticipated that in 2006 this will be an open seat, as Mark Kennedy is expected to run against Mark Dayton for the Senate. From what I can tell the thinking in the party is to repeat a Wetterling campaign in 2006.
Patti Wetterling has huge name recognition and very positive ID in her district. Some years ago, I think it was about 12, her son was kidnapped and never found -- and she became a national advocate regarding missing children, so much so that the advocacy groups did ads for her this time around. She has a foundation that specializes in services to families. I think she is very well suited to the district, and could win. She has no prior elective experience, and it showed early in her campaign this year but she was a fast learner. Her district is partly suburban, (North and East of the Twin Cities) and partly Rural -- tracks all the way to St. Cloud. It is fairly conservative, but it includes the core of Jesse Ventura's home base. Strong Swedish Luthern tradition in the east of the district, with the West much influenced by the Benedictines who have two colleges and much else at Collegeville near St. Cloud. Anyhow it is a district to keep your eye on -- good campaign and it would be doable.
And Hey -- John Ashcroft just resigned. I guess he just lost too many way out constitutional cases with a couple more in the last few days.
With one exception, Ia Service International Union Member) the 13 Legislative Seats the DFL in Minnesota took this go-round were in the Suburbs. They are not heavily Unionized.
In fact the most important thing the Democratic Party needs to do is learn how to win in the Suburbs in a consistent way. That is very very different from rounding up blocks of votes in the inner cities -- though we need to attend to that too in a much more organized manner. We need to look at Democratic Organizations in small town and rural America that keep electing Democrats, and understand how they do it. We need to understand why certain kinds of candidates have good results in their own district, but could never run in others.
Yea, I live in MN. Have done since the 60's but I am a birthright Ohioan.
I have retired from Party work. Over the years I accumulated a long list of party jobs -- 10 years on the State Central Committee, I've managed about 20 campaigns, I co-chaired Alan Cranston's 1984 effort. Raised Money, and (though all my friends thought I had gone off my rocker) in 1989-90 I worked on Paul Wellstone's first Senate Campaign, beginning when it was a rented broom closet, with one phone line hooked to an answering machine. I've organized and chaired committees and commissions at the state level -- and for a couple of years I taught advocacy and lobbying at the University, and some of my former students are still in the legislature.
Yea -- I post at Donkey Rising, at Kos, and at Digby and sometimes at Orcinus. I really want to see the blog-world become a meaningful factor in politics, and I see lots of possibilities that need to be tried and tested. I think the best thing those of us who have been around Party Politics for years, and wear our "Hack" badge with honor can do, is try to tell the new recruits what we know from our own successful efforts and lost good causes.
Excuse me, but you don't need a National Message from the Democrats to win local seats in Georgia.
The South again becomes an asset to the National Democratic Effort when Democratic Southerners get busy and win some elections. You need to raise the money, set up field operations, and rebuild the Southern Democratic Parties, and if you read McCain Feingold clearly, you'll understand that it does shift the responsibility for party building to the states.
I fully appreciate the problems Southern Democrats have -- the dependable base of the Southern Parties are now Black -- in the minority/majority districts. You have to figure out how to create a coalition that includes Black Voters, and then finds enough people willing to vote their own economic and social interests instead of their fears in order to win. But that's what you have to do. We've got enough problems here in Minnesota what with the Republicans importing both Texas Candidates and Southern Tactics -- and we've finally figured out some of the tactical approaches that work. We have a strong state party that can organize and rebound.
Some years back I worked on a Presidential Campaign at the Field Organizer level, and what I found was that most Southern Democratic Parties were essentially letterheads. They had no broad program -- no party building strategy. County Chairs had no idea what was required of them in organizing primary campaigns. And it is not "anti-Southern bigotry" to note the problem -- it is necessary frankness.
If you can't win your sheriff races, your town council races, your legislative races and all -- then why should we assume you've got your game together vis a vis national politics?
Actually, the reason Newt was able to take over the House in 1994 was the result of a 20 + year long plan to do precisely that. Many tactics were involved, but they included packing minorities into minority/majority districts making the election of Right Wing Conservatives possible -- it included funding campaigns for state legislatures all over the country so as to have a hand in redistricting. It included the "Term Limits" campaign and much more than we understand clearly. It included funding many of the think-tanks, building Republican Survey Research firms, developing teams of campaign management that took candidate selection and campaigning out of local hands. It was intended to succeed in 1992, but due to Clinton's success it was postponed by two years. To eventually win at this game, we have to study and comprehend this history, and then figure how to counter it.
In the South the effort really began with what Nixon called the "Southern Strategy" -- and his author of it was Harry Dent. One fundamental of it is the "permenant campaign" for which they have a whole theory -- one we hear every day when our radio tuner hits a station with Rush. Until we comprehend how all inclusive this is, and how it is in fact a master plan for holding power, we are essentially incapable of countering it. Pea shooting is not particularly effective.
Paul -- the same process happened in Minnesota Tuesday. Kerry did about 52%, but in the same election we won 13, (maybe 14) seats in the State House, bringing the DFL up to a tie (67-67) or just down one (66-68). We lost our shirt in 2002 because of the uproar over Paul Wellstone's memorial service (largely a Republican Ploy), but the seats we won this time were largely in Suburban Districts that trended to Bush.
We won on the argument that Republicans had let ideology get in the way of decent government -- so the focus was school funding, Higher Ed tuition costs, Ideological rejection of publicly owned mass transit systems on the part of Republicans, cuts in Health Care, Unsound Fiscal practices, -- just the plain basics of State Government. Most of our new representatives are moderate women, and many of them recruited their Campaign Managers from the Dean Campaign when it folded last spring. Assuming these representatives seem to "get things done" next session, I think we will be well positioned for the 2006 election when Constitutional Offices and the State Senate along with the House stand for re-election. I know state legislative races seem small change in the shadow of the Presidency -- but if Liberals are identified with "Government that Works and Serves Needs" -- we will be on our way.