Friday, June 30, 2006

What even happened to protecting communities?


In the last few weeks the Protect Communities Coalition has evolved into the No on 933 campaign, which was bound to happen, but I wish it didn't have to when it comes to their message. It seems like the No on 933 folks are taking too close of a look at the old messages from the Take Another Look Oregon folks, the No on Measure 37 campaign.

Measure 37 was the ballot initiative on which Washington's I-933 is based.

The problem with No on 37's campaign was that its argument was not taking into consideration the voter's best self interest. By boiling down their stand to "It is complex, it will cost too much money," and putting that up against the oppositions "It is fair," they were bound to lose. Sure, it will cost the government money, but they essentially let Yes on 37 make the case that is was money owed to land owners anyway. And, they let the Yes campaign portray voters as the main beneficiaries of the initiative.

In Washington, though, we seemed to be taking another tack, shooting straight for the "this initiative will screw your neighborhood, your community, so far up... well, you won't know what to do. And, they're giving money away to developers."

But, now with the new No on campaign up and running, they seem to be going back to the old no on Measure 37 message:
Cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars
Create a “pay or waive” system that makes local communities decide whether to waive laws for special interests or force taxpayers to pay them to follow the rules
Cause loopholes for special interests that lead to irresponsible development and more traffic congestion
The above image, which is being used as a blog button, is even worse. It makes no mention of protecting neighborhoods or communities.

The deeper you go into the No on 933 website, the more they mention the Protection angle, but they need to move it front and center.

Dori Monson on taxes, what an ass

I usually leave the talk radio blather watching to the experts, but I went on a hunch hunting trip this morning and had to share. Yesterday afternoon Dori was railing about how even though he liked Ron Sims' idea for transportation in King County, he wouldn't actually vote for a tax increase to support it.

His reasoning was, that according to the Tax Foundation Washington state has the fourth highest tax burden in the country, taking into consideration all sources of taxes, state local federal.

(Fourth highest! FOURTH Highest! He kept repeating, as if every time it became even more true.)

The implication is that while everyone in every state pays an equal share of the federal burden, our state and local burden is so freaking high, that how can we be expected to pay more? Actually, the opposit is true. Our local/state tax burden is lower than our federal burden, way lower.

Our local tax burden is 13th, and 20th in the year the Dori kept on yelling about (2004). Our federal burden is much higher and actually brings out total tax burden way up.

And, when you look at per-capita state and local collections in 2004, we're even lower at 18th. Not only that, but Washington state government, in terms of per capita spending, puts more money out there than most other states, putting us at 6th in the nation in that category.

On average, Washington citizens put $3,452 into state and local government, and then those governments put over $8,000 of that back as investments in education, roads, etc. I don't know where they come up with the other $5,000 per head, but it sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Questions for Mike Rechner, Democrat for the 20th

I'm working on a list of questions for Mike Rechner, who's running in the 2oth LD against Richard DeBoldt (of the sex predator letter earlier this year). I have 4 or 5 right now, don't want to overload him, but does anyone have anything they want to ask?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Civic republican platform: participatory budgeting

In a response to Michael Tomasky's essay on civic republicanism as a voice for Democrats, Brad Carson writes that we need to move beyond just rhetoric:

The "common interest" is fine as a rhetorical ploy. Tomasky's "common good" won't be the Democrats' grand narrative, though. Because, its linguistic utility notwithstanding, the "common good" lacks any real substance and is incapable of doing the important work of prioritizing among (and adjudicating between) competing ideas. In the first 100 days of a new Democratic president, does the "common interest" dictate that we should first do universal health care, welfare reform, or gays in the military? We've been down that road before, and we know the baleful destination already.

I've been thinking about this, and I agree, that is as much as putting though into action. So, what would be the political policies of a civic republican agenda?

One idea is the concept of participatory budgeting, or as I like to call it, the Tim Eyman anti-body we should give all our cities and counties. One of the reasons that folks tend to vote themselves tax cuts and demand more service is that there isn't a connection between them and how their local governments spend money.

Which totally makes sense because local government budgets are written over multiple months, and come to a head during the holiday season.

Participatory budgeting is the opposite of the typical way of developing budgets. It brings citizens close to how decision are made. It opens wide the most basic part of government, and the part that people trust the least.

participatory budgeting has its origins in the radical-left politics of South America. It was first proposed by a political party as part of a platform in the late 80s in Brazil, and first practiced in Porto Algre, Brazil in 1989. The purpose there was to break the lock upper and middle class elites had on the budgeting process.

Here it would be to bring people back into a murky process that we have handed over to elected officials and hired professionals. In Washington there are at least two small examples being played out now in Olympia and Tacoma. Both are limited in scope but have expanded the public dialogue and engagement in budgets.

Civic republican platform: participatory budgeting

Cross posted at Better Donkey

In a response to Michael Tomasky's essay on civic republicanism as a voice for Democrats, Brad Carson writes that we need to move beyond just rhetoric:
The "common interest" is fine as a rhetorical ploy. Tomasky's "common good" won't be the Democrats' grand narrative, though. Because, its linguistic utility notwithstanding, the "common good" lacks any real substance and is incapable of doing the important work of prioritizing among (and adjudicating between) competing ideas. In the first 100 days of a new Democratic president, does the "common interest" dictate that we should first do universal health care, welfare reform, or gays in the military? We've been down that road before, and we know the baleful destination already.
I've been thinking about this, and I agree, that is as much as putting though into action. So, what would be the political policies of a civic republican agenda?

One idea is the concept of participatory budgeting, or as I like to call it, the Tim Eyman anti-body we should give all our cities and counties. One of the reasons that folks tend to vote themselves tax cuts and demand more service is that there isn't a connection between them and how their local governments spend money.

Which totally makes sense because local government budgets are written over multiple months, and come to a head during the holiday season.

Participatory budgeting is the opposite of the typical way of developing budgets. It brings citizens close to how decision are made. It opens wide the most basic part of government, and the part that people trust the least.

participatory budgeting has its origins in the radical-left politics of South America. It was first proposed by a political party as part of a platform in the late 80s in Brazil, and first practiced in Porto Algre, Brazil in 1989. The purpose there was to break the lock upper and middle class elites had on the budgeting process.

Here it would be to bring people back into a murky process that we have handed over to elected officials and hired professionals. In Washington there are at least two small examples being played out now in Olympia and Tacoma. Both are limited in scope but have expanded the public dialogue and engagement in budgets.

Another argument for civic republicanism

Washington Post:
A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from around three to about two.

The comprehensive new study paints a sobering picture of an increasingly fragmented America, where intimate social ties -- once seen as an integral part of daily life and associated with a host of psychological and civic benefits -- are shrinking or nonexistent. In bad times, far more people appear to suffer alone.

I'm not saying that the government should go out and find friends for everybody, but in a country like this, what kind of message is more attractive and hopeful?

"No, seriously, you really are on your own. Screw your neighbor, look out for yourself."

"Trust. We're all in this together."

Friday, June 16, 2006

McGavick, Locke and the golden parachute

David's question this afternoon about whether Safeco Shareholders are pissed about Mike(!) McGavick's Golden Parachute reminded me of something that I noticed a couple of weeks ago. Gary Locke, our former Democratic governor... (you remember him, right?) has been on the Safeco board of directors since early 2005:
Safeco's board of directors has appointed former Washington State Governor Gary Locke as director, effective immediately. Gov. Locke will be included with the class of directors standing for election at the company's annual shareholders meeting on May 4, 2005.

...

"We are delighted to welcome Governor Locke to the Safeco board," said Mike McGavick, Safeco chairman and CEO. "The governor's long-standing reputation for thoughtfulness and leadership will serve the board and our company well as we work to take Safeco to an even greater level of success."

"It's an honor to join the board of one of the nation's leading property and casualty insurance companies, headquartered in Washington," said Gov. Locke. "I'm proud to be associated with Safeco's history of service and community involvement as well as its strong commitment to diversity."

So, was Locke in on the decision to give McGavick his golden 'chute? Did he care? What does he think of it?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The initiative process isn’t the problem, Dunmire is the problem

Cross posted at Printer Democracy

That the initiative process has been used in Washington in the past ten years to run rough-shod over state government’s finances isn’t evidence that the initiative system is broken, it is evidence that initiatives are the territory of the rich. Regular people, folks not like Michael Dunmire, don’t get their ideas (or ideas they like) on the ballot.

Since the beginnig of Tim Eyman career, Dunmire has donated $1 million, almost totally to the Eyman initiatives blowing holes in the state’s taxing authority.

David Goldstein:

It should also be noted that Eyman’s scandals have finally caught up with him, at least in terms of his so-called “grass roots” support. Of the $593,000 he raised for Initiative 900, over $514,000 can from a single source: investment banker Michael Dunmire of Woodinville. All it takes to qualify for the ballot is a half million dollars worth of paid signatures, and with a deep pocketed sugar daddy like Dunmire, Eyman is virtually assured ballot access. But that won’t mean his latest $30 car tab initiative has popular support.

That initiatives supported by Dunmire make it on the ballot is not a reflection on the public will.

It is a cynical reflection that if you have enough money, you can get your idea on the ballot and control the debate. While it is impossible, even unconstitutional, to stop guys like Dunmire from supporting ideas with all the money in the world, you can allow the rest of us to shoulder up to him.

By making the bar of participation so high in the initiattive process (for example, large sized initiative petitions) that state is benefiting people who can pay the price over folks who can’t write $25,000 checks.

I'm always going to read Don Brunell's column at the Vancouver Columbian

Because they allow comments immedialty following opinion pieces. And, not those cheapo haloscan comments either in a pop up window, but real in line comments.

Don recently wrote a lame brain piece on how local communities should stand aside while telecoms lay down tracks. He used the Ashland, OR example to build up his straw man and then knock it right down. None doing though from the mighty comment:
Ask Californians and Portlanders how they feel about the power copmanies. Ask yourself how you feel about your cable company. Now, ask who is in the best position to ensure that high-speed internet? AFN currently offers 3-5 Mbps at $40 per month in Ashland. Next year, that will be 10 Mbps. The losses on the system (now almost 10 years old) have pretty much all stemmed from the cable TV side. Why? Because the city tried to do a good deed by charging a ridiculously low monthly fee ($24) for cable TV. No other market in the country is at that price. Even with the low cost, Charter Cable decided to compete in Ashland for cable customers. They do this by offering Charter cable services below market and below their own cost. (That's probably illegal, but the FCC has never bothered to investigate it. I wonder why?)
I was going to write a post replacing the words "Ashland" with "Tacoma Power" or "Grays Harbor PUD," to point out how laughable it is to argue that cities shouldn't provide telecom while they do provide power, but this is way better.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

MySpace as Civics Class

Cross posted at Better Donkey

A while back I had an idea of creating a school based civics/democracy program using a social network like Myspace (withouth the iritating music though). My thought was that while kids aren't familiar with the how to be a citizen (who among us is?), they do know how to work in an online community.

But, the difference between being a citizen and a member of a good online community isn't all that different. The skills learned at MySpace, how to make friends, how to communicate and discuss, are all skills needed to be a good citizen. We can teach these skills by holding on to what is working right now.

Anyway, looks like

Twyman says the idea that understanding the rules of association online can help you understand the rules of association in the real world has more potential than reality at the moment. But as 13- and 14-year-old members of social-networking communities and MMORPGs grow up, we could see that start to change. These young people may relate back to what they learned online.

In England, the government has decided that all new citizens must take a course in what it means to be a British citizen. The idea is to fight the alienation that many immigrants feel - young Muslims in particular, but all young immigrants in general.

Lectures, videos, and classes are one thing, but what if an MMORPG or online community could be developed to help young people learn more about British history and their duties as citizens? I'm not talking about some Pollyanna version of history: I mean a real game that young people would not see as a chore to play, a game that would also tell the story about Britain and how it came to be.

Twyman agrees that this could be done - he points to a highly successful game developed by the US Army to show young people what it's like to be a soldier - but he says the determining factor would be the quality of the game.

"Most people in the industry tell me that motivation is really not relevant to young people," he says. "What matters is how good the game is. The Army game was successful because it was fun to play. You could create a game to help young people learn to be citizens, but it would have to be a high-quality game."

Take that Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick.

MySpace as Civics Class

A while back I had an idea of creating a school based civics/democracy program using a social network like Myspace (withouth the iritating music though). My thought was that while kids aren't familiar with the how to be a citizen (who among us is?), they do know how to work in an online community.

But, the difference between being a citizen and a member of a good online community isn't all that different. The skills learned at MySpace, how to make friends, how to communicate and discuss, are all skills needed to be a good citizen. We can teach these skills by holding on to what is working right now.

Anyway, looks like Tom Regan has the same idea:

Twyman says the idea that understanding the rules of association online can help you understand the rules of association in the real world has more potential than reality at the moment. But as 13- and 14-year-old members of social-networking communities and MMORPGs grow up, we could see that start to change. These young people may relate back to what they learned online.

In England, the government has decided that all new citizens must take a course in what it means to be a British citizen. The idea is to fight the alienation that many immigrants feel - young Muslims in particular, but all young immigrants in general.

Lectures, videos, and classes are one thing, but what if an MMORPG or online community could be developed to help young people learn more about British history and their duties as citizens? I'm not talking about some Pollyanna version of history: I mean a real game that young people would not see as a chore to play, a game that would also tell the story about Britain and how it came to be.

Twyman agrees that this could be done - he points to a highly successful game developed by the US Army to show young people what it's like to be a soldier - but he says the determining factor would be the quality of the game. "Most people in the industry tell me that motivation is really not relevant to young people," he says. "What matters is how good the game is. The Army game was successful because it was fun to play. You could create a game to help young people learn to be citizens, but it would have to be a high-quality game."

Take that Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick.

More on Maria's blog/website

When I wrote about Senator Cantwell not having comments on her blog, which she should, I didn't write that she did have a tool that allows folks to get together and show her love. Pretty neat, folks over at wa-democrats.org should check it out.

I'm going to be a standup guy and host myself one of these in the next few weeks, but I can't decide whether to make it a morning coffee or afterwork thing...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More on Tim Sheldon and the 35th LD

From the chairman's blog:
We had a tremendous turnout at our meeting yesterday and we accomplished a great deal.

First, we approved Kyle Taylor Lucas as our State Senate candidate. That means she will have access to all our services, except funding, for her campaign.

If you look at our Bylaws, we have to approve a candidate at one meeting before we can endorse anyone when there are two Democrats running. We could approve Tim Sheldon at the August 6 picnic, but we can also endorse Kyle at the picnic, which will release funds to her campaign.

Many political organizations do not have an endorsement that allows funding until after the primary.

Civic republicanism, youth political engagement and service

Service is up since 9-11, despite deep federal cuts in volunteer programs.

Young folks are engaging politically at a higher rate than generations before, and they're doing it online.

And, yes, this means civic republicanism should be the overall theme for the Democratic Party, because "You're in this alone," and the "Opt Out Society" needs an enemy.

I'll write more about this later.

Maria blogs, well not really

The new Maria Cantwell site is up, and boy does it look pretty. It even includes one of those blog thingies, and I'm no kidding you, it is Shiny. But, it doesn't take comments, and it doesn't even pretend to.

Well, crap. I'm honest enough to say when I'm wrong, or that the person I'm going to vote for is wrong, but Tim Goddard, you win this round, you stinker. Mike McGavick, that hack, has a better blog than Maria.

There is some interesting stuff going on out there otherwise on the Maria vs. Mike blog wars:
Tim get's his licks in, can't help himself (I'm bloggy! Yes, Tim, you're very bloggy)
An Open Letter to Maria Cantwell
Follow up on my open letter to Senator Cantwell
Postman: McGavick may be ahead in battle of the Web

Go to the bottom of this post, but Doug Dobbins and Tim have a contructive conversation in the comment thread.

If I seem to be harsh on this post towards anyone, it isn't personal, it is only because I am mad that Republicans are out-doing what we should be better at. Anyway, for a much, much better example of a Democrat who blogs, check out Dave Upthegrove's Uptheblog and my reasons for liking it. Wheew... breath out.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Online money and small donations

Turns out we're better at raising money that Republicans, online. Kari Chisolm down in Portland points out that MyGOP really didn't do all that well:

...the Republican Party's MyGOP portal -- intended to be a social networking and activism site -- has completely fallen flat.

Apparently, the RNC ran a promotion in which the top five participants who raised money from their friends would win an iPod. Well, the top five are:

GOP Bloggers - $498 Brian Bridgeforth - $426 Melissa Nolen - $150 Hank Gill - $100 Matthew Larvick - $50

Wow. Even a little bit of promotion should have helped the site pull in more than $1224. Looks like the RNC has some work to do to catch up on the online side of things.

This could be because the GOP really has no interest in connecting online (a large blog convention in Nevada populated by progressives with no conservative equal would support this supposition), but it would also imply that we're getting better at raising money in a very important post McCain-Feingold way. Since soft money was outlawed, small donations, especially small donations online, are becoming more and more important.

Who cares if you can put together several big bundles of money, when a good online operation can bring in both money and actual support from actual people.

And, it is good to know that this is getting us somewhere:

A surge in small, individual contributions is lifting Democratic campaigns this year and is slowing a Republican fund-raising advantage that has existed for years in national politics, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Democratic House and Senate candidates, and their two major campaign committees, are enjoying stronger grass-roots support than at any time since the GOP took over both branches of Congress in the 1994 elections, according to strategists from both parties.

The strategists have reviewed the most recent Federal Election Commission data, which were released this spring.

In the meantime, Republican campaign committees are stumbling. The Republican National Committee is lagging behind its totals from two years ago, though it has a financial lead over the Democratic National Committee.

Tim Sheldon loses endorsement of 35th District Dems

Much like in Thurston County, Tim Sheldon doesn't get the support of his local Democratic Party:
The battle for a state Senate seat continued Sunday between incumbent Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, and candidate Kyle Taylor Lucas of Shelton.

At the 35th Legislative District Democrats quarterly meeting at the North Mason Timberland Library in Belfair, the executive board and about 50 members present voted to approve Lucas. Three members voted against the approval.

"I’m deeply gratified by their support collectively," Lucas said. "They’re so eager for a change in the 35th District."

The committee said they did not approve Sheldon, who has held the seat for nine years, because his questionnaire was not received before a scheduled board meeting. Under the group’s new by-laws, candidates seeking endorsement must return a form to the board for them to consider approval, said district chairwoman Fran Moyer.

According to Sheldon, he did not receive the form until late last week before he left town. At the meeting, Sheldon said he learned the executive board held its meeting to discuss the candidates before he received the form in the mail. The group e-mailed the form to him, according to Moyer, although Sheldon indicated he did not receive it.

"They absolutely dislike my bipartisan approach to politics," Sheldon said after Sunday’s meeting. "I don’t take it personally, it’s politics as is from a very small vocal minority."

Moyer, who is also the co-chairwoman of Lucas’ campaign, said the committee supports Lucas because Sheldon does not represent his Democratic constituents in Olympia.

"When Republicans identify Tim Sheldon as a Republican," she said, "I think that is very telling."

Sheldon was criticized for his support of George W. Bush in 2004, as well as his other votes that have sided with Republicans. Sheldon contends that when he votes, he represents his constituents — Democrat or Republican — first and his party second.

The board is scheduled to make a recommendation to the central committee to approve or not approve Sheldon for office during a scheduled Aug. 6 meeting. Because two candidates are running for the 35th District, the committee’s by-laws states the "executive board shall serve as a screening committee and shall then recommend to the Central Committee approval (when there is more than one candidate) or endorsement or non-endorsement when there is only one candidate."

"Approved" candidates may receive any "non-financial aid, such as walking lists from the 35th Legislative District database."
Earlier this week, he referred to himself as an infidel:
State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, is sure his own party leadership is out to get him.

"They want to purge the party of infidels like me," said the lawmaker, who is considered a renegade for his voting record.

When 35th District Democrats meet Sunday in Belfair, Sheldon faces the prospect that party members will endorse Kyle Taylor Lucas of Shelton for the Senate seat Sheldon has held for nine years. He previously served seven years in the House. Lucas has never held elected office.

So far, they’re the only candidates of any party to register their intent to run with the Public Disclosure Commission. Candidates officially file for office during the last week in July.

This will be the first time that Sheldon, 59, has ever faced a primary contest in which only voters who identify themselves as Democrats could cast ballots for him. Sheldon has broken party ranks many times, including endorsing George W. Bush for re-election in 2004. If they are the only two candidates to file for the seat, a Lucas victory in the September primary would send Sheldon out of the Legislature.

Friday, June 09, 2006

new style

It was time for a change.

Tim Sheldon and the "I vote the way my district wants me to vote" stuff

One of the things I couldn't reconcile from the Tim Sheldon time at the TCD meeting a few weeks ago, is the way he begged off questions on his votes by saying something to the nature of "I voted the way my district is." This implies that while he himself may be a fairly liberal kind of guy, he had the duty to represent his district.

No word though on the duty of his district to vote for people that actually believe in their own votes.

This "blame the district" excuse is lame and dishonest. If it were true, the 35th wouldn't elect both Kathy Haigh and Bill Eickmeyer. I've been looking for examples of the difference between Tim, Kathy and Bill and this morning I ran across the Washington Conservation Voters' new scorecard.

Both Bill and Kathy score in the 90s, while Tim is way down at 25 percent:
Senator Sheldon lives in a district that not only values our natural habitat, but also depends upon it for jobs and economic benefit. Therefore, it defies logic that he continuously attempts to block legislation to protect Hood Canal and the Puget Sound, a significant part of his district’s livelihood. Comparing his 25% score with the 92% and 90% scores of his seatmates in the House suggests clearly that he can and should be doing more to protect the environment.
Even Dan Swecker, who represents the neighboring and way more red 20th District, got a better rating than Tim:
Senator Swecker represents a conservative district that has not historically produced pro-environment legislators, so it is with pleasure that we applaud him for his record this past biennium. His work on transportation issues, along with his efforts to fix failing septic systems and to ban toxic flame retardants, are commendable.
Would Sheldon say that Dan is out of touch with the 20th?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Maybe this Eyman guy isn't so cool pt 2 (interlopers aren't cool)

We just wouldn't say that during the signature gathering part:

The lack of signatures, Fuiten said, tells him that "Tim Eyman has a knack for messing stuff up. He's kind of an interloper on this whole thing in my opinion. Part of the deal is resistance to him."

Fuiten said, "There are millions of people in the state of Washington who don't want to see that become law. It's not a question of lack of support. It's really a question of organization and getting the work done."

Maybe this Eyman guy isn't so cool

...wonders Anonymous comments at the Faith and Freedom Network blog. I was looking for some other side perspective on what happened in Olympia yesterday (it sill makes no sense to me), and stumbled upon these comments:
At 2:19 PM, Anonymous said...

We have allowed our Christ filled message to be co-opted by a moron

Darth Vader represents the "dark force." Tim Eyman show disrespect for the Christian view by wearing a satanic outfit.

We should distance ourselves as soon as possible.

At 4:31 PM, Anonymous said...

well, there still was some good left in Darth Vadar. He did kill the emporer in the end. Maybe there is some good in Tim Eyman. Somewhere. In a gallaxy far, far away. Wow, that was just too easy
Yes, it is possible you sided with a jackass to get to your goal of total straigt-Christian domination. Or, like any scam artist, he saw you as a perfect mark and took you.

Why I'm glad Hillary Hunt is in charge

At one point I thought I'd have to run for president of our local Thurston County YD chapter. But, Hillary stepped in and literally saved it for us.

She was at the convention in Yakima, and with a bunch of other hard working YDs, almost pulled off a charter admendment to get the state party to take the YDs seriously. I was mostly checked out on this one, but if we want the YDs to be a serious part of the party and not just a place where young politicos can hob-nob, why don't we take them seriously enough to put them up with all the rest of the Dash-Dem organizations?

Either way, read the entire thing, but this is a great passage:
Some woman near me yells at me for asking the question. I firmly, though politely say âIâve asked a very fair question I have every right to ask.â Cheers from the immediate area. The chair comes back and says heâs interpreting my question as a request for a paper ballot.

More cheering.

So they start giving out paper ballots. I go on a made chase to find a ballot and get it turned in. I make Dad track down Paul and Grandma to make sure they vote. I whip the heck out of my LD to get their votes in and vote yes.

People keep coming up to me asking when Iâm going to run for office so they can work on my campaign.

Ballots are in â the counting begins. After a very anxious hour, we get the word from our observers that we are 6 votes down. Four ballots had abstentions, 2 people signed but forgot to vote.

Agony.

We try to figure out what to do next â we just canât believe weâve lost by six votes.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Not Third Party, Post Party Politics

Shaun has a pretty good reaction to what Joe Trippi wrote:
The best place for people with any degree of progressive instinct to be is right where Joe says he's sticking - inside the Democratic Party until we're in charge of it.
But, it left me wanting because there are a large group of Americans, already a third party, that don't consider themselves either Democrats or Republicans. Not independents, because these people participate at a much lower level than do those of us who identify, but rather people for whom politics aren't that important.

Either for some reason just don't participate, or more insidiously, they have dropped out of the process because neither party and the entire political system, won't speak to them.

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about the dual purposes of parties in general: to win elections and be an avenue for people to be involved in the political process. I think we've focused to much on the first and forgotten about the second. I'm not ready to really go into that, but here are two passages that have helped me think about this stuff.

The first is from Teddy Roosevelt at the founding of the Progressive Party in 1912, he's bemoaning the Democratic and Republican parties of his time:
The prime need today is to face the fact that we are now in the midst of a great economic evolution. There is urgent necessity of applying both common sense and the highest ethical standard to this movement for better economic conditions among the mass of our people if we are to make it one of healthy evolution and not one of revolution. It is, from the standpoint of our country, wicked as well as foolish longer to refuse to face the real issues of the day. Only by so facing them can we go forward; and to do this we must break up the old party organizations and obliterate the old cleavage lines on the dead issues inherited from fifty years ago. Our fight is a fundamental fight against both of the old corrupt party machines, for both are under the dominion of the plunder league of the professional politicians who are controlled and sustained by the great beneficiaries of privilege and reaction.
And this from a British organization called Involve in a report of Post Party Politics:
The second pillar is to act as the main interface and conduit between people and government. This process goes way beyond MPs surgeries to involve all people who act to support government, giving their spare time to community initiatives or simply behaving as responsible citizens by recycling their waste or reporting crime. The more people who feel that they are part of or support a political ‘project’ or initiative, the better its chance of success. Historically this has been achieved through the wider social movements that both the Conservative and Labour party represented, which spread their reach and connection through a nationwide network of community activists, members and social events hosted and run through their clubs. Then politics was not so much about representation but connection.
We need to worry less about power and more on connection.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Progressives and the initiative process

Cross posted at printer Democracy

Steve is correct when he reminds us that progressive's shouldn't hate the game, they should hate the player. It isn't the fault of the initiative process that it has been hijacked by right wing money makers like Eyman, it is our fault for giving the process over to them. A lot of good progressive things have come out of initiatives, as Steve points out. Read his post, it is good.

So, now that we've pretty much given over the process to guys like Eyman, what do we do? I have an idea that would hopefully encourage more regular citizen involvement in the process, but there are other ideas.

I'm not a big fan of Permanent Defense's "report right wing signature gathering" (even though I've got me some to report). I don't think it is an effective way to counter the signature gathering step in initiatives, and it boarders on encouraging harrasment.

While I'm talking about Permanent Defense also not a big fan of the name. For one, it is a take off on Eyman's Permanent Offense, you shouldn't allow your opponent to define you, even in what you call yourself. Plus it is a negative term, like "we're always on defense," or "you're so defensive."

The No on I-933 crowd seems to have struck on a great alternative to the "Report" scheme. They're encouraging people to sign a petition signifying that they aren't in support of I-933. While it would be interesting if someday a "No On" campaign could compete for signatures to keep an initiative off the ballot, this idea seems to be more powerful now as a campaign/PR tool.

Imagine Eyman getting out of his car at the Secretary of State's office finding dozens of anti-Whateverhesupto folks with their own petitions.

Plus, there wouldn't be any weird size requirments to the anti-petitions.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Andrew of King County has a great idea

Drinking Liberally minus the drinking:
I firmly believe that more young people should get involved in politics. Unfortunately, Drinking Liberally would seem to discourage aspiring young activists who aren't 21 from taking part, but you can certainly come and not drink. I do.

But I think Democrats and progressives ought to figure out a strategy for reaching out specifically to young people (individuals of high school or college age) and getting them involved. Maybe that means putting on a regular event like Drinking Liberally, but minus the alcohol, and probably making it less frequent.

For example, a regularly scheduled monthly meeting could be organized at a Seattle area restaurant (not a bar though) where young people could have a bite to eat, discuss political strategy, and enjoy ice water.

One of the great things about Drinking Liberally is certainly the continuity. It goes on every Tuesday night at the Montlake Ale House. If you're in the mood to talk politics with other activists, you just show up. And you can bring your laptop with you: the Ale House is Wi-Fi equipped so you can surf the blogosphere or just get some work done.
Drinking Liberally is a great idea, but not because it brings together bear, well drinks and progressive politics. Rather, it is an informal, net-based meeting that anyone can come along and join. Like meetups, but more specifically marketed towards liberals/progressives and with no higher motive than to just bring people together.

Of course, when people come together to socialize, they'll end up talking about and doing more.

Boy, we should have more of those.

Hey Oregon

My ex-governor is lamer than your ex-governor. Just wanted to point out that Kitzaber is cooler than Locke, always has been.

Anyway, did anyone notice from that article that Locke is also a member of the Safeco board? Was he on the board when McGavick got his $17 Million Golden Parachute?