PA09 Rural America-Why Grassroots and Netroots Must Take Lead
by Tony Barr PA09, Wed Jun 13, 2007 at 08:08:16 AM EDT
In the winter of 2005-2006, there was a great deal of buzz in the political circles I ran in regarding a guy who was seriously considering a run for Congress for my district. Smart, good-looking, and wealthy, maybe he could be a winner. He was doing everything by the book. He met with the leaders in the Democratic party, and they told him that unless he had a million dollars that he was ready to burn not to bother. End of campaign.
A couple of months later, this and other incidents were weighing on my mind when my wife joked that I should run. I'd felt for a while that sooner or later I was going to have to run for some office. I'd even discussed my dilemma with my wife. We had agreed that there was no magical candidate who was going to appear from wherever and save us all. National was not going to send a candidate to us nor was it going to recruit a candidate for us. It was up to us to do it ourselves. It was up to us to quit whining and moaning and to get it done. Now was the time.
Granted, I haven't won anything yet. But, in six months time with no prior planning, no experience, and no money, my team and I put together a campaign that received 40% of the vote in a district that has gone Republican since James Buchanan's time. This is 9% better than the last guy who ran for this seat. So, you may ask, what does this have to do with anything? Everything. I learned a lot last year in my campaign for Congress, and now I am going to pass some of that knowledge on to you. I am doing this because only you can make this country better. So, whether you are a candidate or someone who is just ticked off, quit whining, get off your rump, and let's do something. Action must come from the grassroots and the netroots.
Action must come from the grassroots and the netroots because the Party Leadership is only concerned with those distracts that it thinks are safe. Honestly, this makes sense to me. We really don't want them to waste money in places where people do not have their acts together. We must prove to the powers that be that we can run and win, and we must prove to the voters that we are worthy of their votes. To do both of these things, we are going to have to develop the infrastructure to get out our message.
Let me be clear, I'm not looking for permission to run, but some money and expertise would be nice. On the other hand, I'm not holding my breath, and I don't believe that progressives in other rural areas should be holding their breath either. Maybe we will attract the attention of the National Party, maybe we won't, but in the end, it doesn't matter. We aren't running to curry favor with National. We are running to make our communities better, we are running to make our states better, and we are running to make our country better. Anything else is a distraction, and it should be let go.
Further, we must be concerned with the Mandate of the People. This is America, and in America, you get the power to rule from the people. This means that we must have effective grassroots networks that creates dialogue directly with the voters. If you are not talking to the voters about things that are important to them, what are you doing? How is that Fall Dinner helping you to get votes? Fall Dinners are important but only if they energize others to join with you in knocking doors and making phone calls. In the end, it all must go back to direct voter contact.
Lastly, we need to build infrastructure. Too many of our Democratic County Committees in rural areas do not have committee people from every precinct. In many cases, they have only a handful of people that come to the meetings. This must change. There are Democrats out there. Just about every Democrat that I know at some point thought they were the only Democrat in the county. Really. The only one. We need to be more visible. We need to shine the light that all the Democratic moths fly to (hopefully not to their deaths). But, we can't stop at County Committees. We need to form groups to address the situation in Darfur, to bring the troops home, join farm bureaus to address agriculture and energy issues, join the Chamber of Commerce to address small business issues. This is a short list. I would appreciate it if you added to it. We need to be involved in everything, and we need to identify ourselves. We do a lot of good, and we must take credit for it.
As I said on Monday, this series that I am doing is in preparation for a presentation that I am hosting at the Take Back America 2007 conference. I will be presenting on Wednesday, June 20th at 11:30 am. Any input will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
This diary was cross posted on the Daily Kos.