Wednesday, June 29, 2005

KC Dem Convention thoughts

We all can agree that if more people were involved in political parties, political parties would be stronger. Andrew and I can agree that stronger and more inclusive political parties would benefit the democratic process.

The problem comes along now as the parties try to grapple with the new Top Two primary in their current state. Right now, the parties aren't exactly the most open organizations around, and it looks like their King County parties are nominated county council candidates that probably won't get beyond the Top Two primary in September.

The Top Two conventions for both the GOP and the Democrats proved one thing, that in this crazy world, it counts more to motivate people than raise money. In my humble opinion, that is what matters most in politics, or should matter most. Unfortunately, Bob Ferguson and Steve Hammond are likely to get beat in September because people matter little in elections, it is money that counts. And, if Edmonds and Dunn can get on the ballot (we'll see what the federal courts have to say later), money may very well trump people.

I guess my point though is that it shouldn't be that way, people should matter more than money.

And, political parties have a lot to say about to what point people can be involved in the democratic process. In short, political parties should be a significant conduit for people to easily involve themselves.

Think yourself a Democrat, though, and show up to the King County convention last weekend, you wouldn't have had any say on who was nominated. It was PCOs only that could vote.

In a way, that is an open nomination process, because, all King County residents could vote for PCOs. But, how many of Democrats in King County knew they were electing nominators last fall? Either way, there aren't enough people who are active in political parties for nominations to mean anything really right now.

Now, if we had half the turnout and the exact same setup that we had for the presidential caucuses for the county conventions this year, that would be an entirely different bowl of noodles.

Other King County Dem Convention stuff:
NPI Blog: KCDCC media coverage
NPI Blog: Summary of the KCDCC Winners
Pleasing to Remember:The King County Democrats Nominating Convention

Monday, June 27, 2005

Maybe a bit too hasty on the new DNC website

Two folks I respect and like to read came up with different takes on the democrats.org. Matt Singer and Julie at Red State Rebels both liked it way more than I did. Julie says:

There's also the opportunity to invest $20 a month in DNC "Democracy Bonds," with the quip, "you don't get any money back - but you do you get your country back." Howard Dean bought the first bond today, renewing his campaign idea of building a party fueled by many small donors. "You can decide to commit more money per month, depending on what you can afford, but the principle is democratic with a small-d -- one person, one bond. Every person can be a stakeholder in our party," the website says.
And, she has a good point, Democracy Bonds do what I and a lot like me want to see, campaign finance reform the only way it has to work, by regular folks giving small amounts regularly, investing in Democracy. I'm a bit jaded and I really want to see a meetup like tool.

But still, Democracy Bonds rock.

Olympia blogs (over to the right and down)

At another blog I did once, but gave up on, I had a list of blogs from Olympia. I'm trying that list again.

Its pretty cool after a few years how many people I couldn't find, and how many more there actually are. I didn't look very hard, but I got a pretty good list in under 20 minutes. Some of my favorites are still out there (Flummel..., Atomic Raygun) and some are still there, but haven't been updated for awhile, but I listed them for old times sake (Making Mistakes).

Some new cools ones are Lacey Libertarian. If you go to his blog, its titled Puget Sound Libertarian, but his url is way cooler. Just something about being a Lacey Libertarian that sounds good to me, maybe its the alliteration.

Best name? The Pillow Farm. And, I don't know why.

Hopefully democrats.org gets better than this

Man, that wasn't much of an improvement.

The design is certainly, uhmmm, shiny, but the content isn't all that differerent from the old, clunky democrats.org

Democracy Bonds? Huh? Is this just a dedicated fundraising tool for the 50-state strategy? It seems like a "I'll give $20 a month" sort of thing, but its not particularly inventive, not what I expected at all.

And, democrats.org/meetup is totally gone, I think meaning they have no plans on resurecting it, which was my hope. Or at least providing a similar tool, like house parties or something.

Surpringly, the blog didn't get much of an update either. At least, they could link to some of the blogs the state parties have up.

One things includes the local portion. The Western section almost reads like westerndemocrat.com.

But, I'll say it again for anyone hasn't gotten it, Give Us A Meetup.com Like Tool!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

What will the new DNC website be?

For the last few days I've been seeing a new splash page on democrats.org, and it seems like that about this time Monday, I'll know what the brand new DNC website is all about:
In case you haven't noticed, there's been a special splash page on Democrats.org for the past few days. Tonight we're working on re-launching Democrats.org so that we can bring you a better and more powerful website that's built entirely around the Democratic community.

So sit tight, and when you wake up in the morning, come right back here and see the new website built with you in mind.
You want to know what I want Santa "New DNC Website" to bring me? A tool, like meetup.com, for Democrats to organize online and meet offline. But, I bet you already knew that.

Hopefully, the new website won't be a prettier version of what is already up there, which is a pretty shallow and pretty useless for the typical Democrat. Sites like mydd.com, and deanforamerica.com have done a lot more than democrats.org.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Getting my Meetup poster on

I just posted two posters to advertise the Oly Democratic Party meetup, one with the slogan "Get your democracy on," and another "Exercise Your Democracy Muscles."

I know, kind of cutesie, but it is what came to mind. If you have another slogan you like, just shoot it over to me, and I'll put together a poster. The little tabs on the bottom are meant to be cut so they can be torn off, like a "room for rent" poster.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Parties should be grassroots, not air forces

Reed Davis, the former chair of the King County GOP, writes a very interesting piece on the Top Two primary and the nature of parties in the Northwest Progressive Institute blog this morning:
...a real party is not a national or even a state committee. Those are professional organizations whose primary function is fundraising; whatever else they may be, they are most certainly not volunteer organizations whose primary function is to mobilize voters on behalf of candidates.

When I speak of the importance of parties, then, the parties I have in mind are the grassroots organizations that exist for the sake of, well, real people, and not political professionals.
Throughout the piece, he seems to be contradicting himself, saying that what parties are now (grassroots apparently) is what is being defended when the parties decided to sue to overturn the Top Two primary. But, what is actually being defended is the system of professional parties, fund raising entities that don't put much focus on grassroots.

The Top Two at least has forced the parties in King County to accept candidates that couldn't race money, but could organize people:
Interestingly enough, in order to avoid the possibility of members of the same party running against one another in the general election, both the King County Republicans and the King County Democrats (as well as county organizations for both parties statewide) have met in order to nominate just one candidate for the general election.

That not only preserves voter choice for the general election, it strengthens local parties: now a good candidate is someone who is capable of mobilizing, organizing and appealing to the greatest number of real live people, not someone who is simply capable of raising the most amount of money.

We have designed a system that is today exactly backwards: we tend to place our parties at the disposal of the candidate who can raise the most money rather than giving our money to the candidate who proves that he or she can mobilize the most people.
On the other hand, the GOP candidate that had the money, essentially representing the professional political class, is thinking about bucking the party and running anyway.

I agree with Andrew at NPI that parties do a lot of good, and that politics would be dismal without them. What I don't agree with necessarily is that chucking the Top Two is a way to build the parties.

Simply put:

It isn't enough to vote. It isn't enough to give money even. You have to be part of the Party. And the Party should be so damn open that you want to be involved.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

July meet up: Framing Healthcare and I-336 and I-330

In June, we started an interesting discussion on the writings of George Lakoff and how to frame progressive values. In July, we will practice our new skills by framing the issue of Healthcare from a progressive point of view. The specific issues brought up by initiatives 336 and 330 will guide our discussion.

Don't forget to bring a friend!

Tuesday, July 12 from 7 to 9 p.m.
Olympia Center
222 Columbia St NW
Olympia, WA
Room 101 (first floor)

Yes on 336
Yes on 330
General discussion on framing healthcare

This is a meeting for Democrats in Thurston County who want a "low impact" informative meeting to discuss topics of the day and to get more involved in the Democratic Party.

Also, just a short update on the progress we've been making with moving away from meetup.com. I've been talking with Christi McGinley, the county party's webmaster, and she has begun work on a new webpage. Eventually, we will use an email list hosted by the county party and post meetup information there.

Boy, I sure hate the public too

For the second time in a year, the Yelm City Council has said that they don't want to hear from the public their opinion on the most pressing issues affecting the city. I'm not really sure about Wal-Mart in Yelm, but for Pete's sake, not wanting to hear from your constituents? Wow:

"It's the council's meeting. They can decide what they want to hear and what they're tired of hearing," the attorney said. "It's maybe not good political practice to hush people."

Rivas said it's optional to even have a public comment period. Yelm's council meetings include 15 minutes for public comment.

"You can understand if you're barraged for two months at meetings -- the same people saying the same thing," Dille said. "The other issue is talking about Wal-Mart now that the application has been submitted."

Blocking discussion of Wal-Mart in general is a way to keep the council members from appearing prejudiced against the store, since an appeal of the project could come before the council, Dille said.

"They should not be speaking at all about it," Dille said.

From a "I'm getting really bored at this meeting" point of view, I can understand the city council's feelings on this. When I was a reporter, I used to get bored out of my mind at the same three guys that used to show up to this one city's council meeting. Always talking about the same stuff, YAAAAAAAAAWWN. Just wait for it to get over.

While its easy to overlook the crazies, its a bad thing not to notice that these guys are doing what we should all be doing. We should all, from time to time, get up in front of our city, county, whatever and give them a piece of our mind. And, if it just happens to be about something that they have heard a lot about, well tough cookies, you're going to listen to me.

This is why I have a soft place in my heart for the city of Olympia, that apparently takes this so seriously, we have regular town hall meetings, which are essentially very long public comment periods. Yeah Olympia!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Why Dean speaks for me

They saying showing up is 90 percent of life. For a long time, for my entire life actually, people haven't been showing up in politics. Voting has gone down, money in politics has gone way up (from corporate or recycled political money though) and we have continually been separated from the people that make decisions for us.

As political parties and the entire process has become more commercialized and less personal, we have become distanced from them. Less people vote and give money, but even fewer actually participate in party politics.

Here's a great data set that actually illustrates this trend. Also, read Bowling Alone, or at least chapter 2 on participation in political parties.

The fewer people that actually work for candidates, attend local political meetings, and PARTICIPATE in politics, the worse off we are. Watching Crossfire, writing a check and voting on election day (while all good things) aren't good enough.

Dean's candidacy and his DNC chairmanship, especially the 50 state campaign, is a great start to countering this trend. I got into politics because of Howard Dean. I was always interested in politics, and thought I was an above average consumer of the process, but before Dean, I didn't realize how insignificant just being a consumer of politics was.

Its great to vote, its even better to write a letter to the editor or read news a lot. But, to really make a difference, you have to show up. Since then, I've helped out on a campaign, door-belled and started organizing a Dem meetup in my town. I also worked the Demo-burger booth yesterday. Hmmmm... yummy.

Anyway, People Powered Howard is the first national figure that I've seen talk about and address the problem of lack of civic and political participation in America. That the media titters about every time he says something like a party where 80 percent of the self identified members are Christians and white is a "mostly white Christian party" is pretty pointless to me.

Conventions in our crazy Top Two world

The KC GOP has their conventions yesterday, and I don't know how, but it was in "defiance" of the Top Two primary, according to the Seattle Times.

It shouldn't be in defiance though, because the Top Two was never intended to be a way for the parties to nominate a candidate, just as a primary election before a general election. It is the parties that took the primaries and turned them into publicly funded nominating conventions.

Prior to the KC GOP convention, it looked like the GOPsters were going to have some party unity behind their only contested race, that the guy that didn't get it would kindly step aside. It doesn't look like that's going to work out:

In the weeks before the convention, both Hammond and Dunn said they intended to abide by its outcome. But after yesterday's vote, Dunn said he would file anyway, although he didn't know whether he would do so as a Republican.

"I can't abandon this campaign because of 24 votes in June," he said, referring to Hammond's victory margin (and getting his math slightly wrong).

This is going to be awesome. Either the son of Jennifer Dunn, Washington GOP god, and namesake of modern GOP god, will either run against a Republican as a libertarian or independent OR he'll stand up to his own party's asinine position that only they get to say who a Republican is.

Personally, I hope he does the later. Political parties shouldn't be private clubs were only the members (or short of some level of participation, the leaders) get to say who belongs. If a nomination actually mattered, if who the party supported actually mattered, they wouldn't care if I moved to King County and ran as a Republican. They would know that their resources, their money and volunteer base would be enough to a nominee. But they know that a big name like Reagan Dunn could pull in more money and get more volunteers than another lesser known candidate that just so happens to be the nominee of a party.

The solution
isn't to kick out the candidate that can out organize an entire county political party, but to actually build a better party, one that can raise money, raise volunteers and actually mean something to a nominee aside from a court-ordered "R" or "D" next to their name.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Should I care if people from exurbs vote for my guy?

God, I hope not.

That big paper from back east is finishing up a series on big-c Class this week, and yesterday's piece on "relos" or people that relocate from town to town for work and career was excellent. At first, I read with I'm watching a horror movie sort of detachment, but it eventually came to me that yes, people actually do live like this.

This passage near the beginning is true to the entire piece:
"It's as if they're being molded by their companies," said Tina Davis, a top Alpharetta relo agent for the Coldwell Banker real estate firm. "Most of the people will tell you how long they'll be here. It's usually two to four years."
These are people that seem to have a few major commitments. First of all, their family. I can't fault them for that, the main subject of the story was obviously dedicated to her husband and the enrichment of her kids. Second, what I said above leads us into money, which obviously plays a roll in their decisions to move around so much.

But, at some point, I have wonder how far these folks commitment to other people not directly in their immediate circle goes. If their kids are safe, if their kids schools are good, who cares about kids on the other side of town? If her husband's job is safe, who cares if some other guy loses his?

I don't know, but their frequent abandonment of towns and communities doesn't speak to a deep connection to people around them. If the roads are so bad getting around suburban Georgia, who really cares about fixing the problem of poor planning, if you are going to leave in a few years anyway?

Anyway, much was made about George Bush's ability to win the so called exurbs last fall, which was one of the things that put him over the top. If these are the people that populate the fastest growing counties in the country, do I care?

As Joel Kotkin put it:
The new voters in the fast-growth land of McMansions, Target stores and office parks outweighed the energized legions of young hipsters, labor unionists and African-Americans who rallied to Kerry's cause.
I suspect that much of the exurbians political tendencies come from their personal choices of being rootless, not feeling connected to a particular place or holding your ground for a community. These are things that I expect the Democratic Party to stand for, and so I would assume that we would lose among with the relos.