Friday, October 29, 2010

Back To The Front Lines of Campaigning: Vote Row E New York

In January of 2007 I walked into the Working Families Party office at 2-4 Nevins Street not fully sure of what I was getting myself in to or what the job I was applying for really meant I would be doing.  For the following seven months I would get the best first hand understanding of how an organization can mobilize people through their organization and the passion of it's workers into creating real social change.  I wish everyone even if for only one day could experience what it is like to walk in the office knowing that they will see the other side of what it means to be truly involved in our democracy and help to organize those in their communities.

When people think of the democratic process the first thing and for many the only thing they think of and is required of them is to go vote on election day.  For me there are many very sad parts of that statement in that even with that mentality more than half of the registered voters in this country do not even fulfill that right which so many before them have fought for them to be able to exercise.  The other part that saddens me is that many think once they exercise their right to vote on Election Day that their requirements as a citizen of this republic are fulfilled until the next time elections come around.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Who we elect certainly plays a role in the policies that we see in our daily lives, but it is in the action of holding the politicians we send to the state county office, the state house, or Washington D.C. that we can have the most impact on the policies that are passed.  My first experience with WFP was an election campaign and I believe a canvass operation was in the field for 34 of the 35 days leading up to the election to inform voters of the choices in the election, allow them to ask questions so they could make informed decisions and most importantly encourage them to vote and be a part of the process.  Seems like a normal thing for most to pay attention at least in the last couple weeks of an election cycle but in that case it was a special election in January on Long Island where the expected turnout was only expected to be 10-15%.

When that election was over there was no consideration that the fight and the work for social change was at all finished but in the results of the election all of us were more driven to enact it in what many deem the "offseason" of the political process.  In the weeks that followed the work stopped being about a particular candidate and shifted into a letter and phone campaign about budget cuts to health care that the new governor was proposing in his first budget.  This is the real work of democracy.  You elect representatives in this case having just been sworn into office a month prior and then you see the proposals on the table and you hold them accountable to the desires of their constituents by getting the constituents organized in a united voice.

If in this economy you believe in things like the right to a higher minimum wage, affordable housing, transparent government, green jobs, a living wage, paid family leave, and of course universal affordable health care then on November 2nd in NYC you will vote Row E to help the Working Families Party hold your politicians accountable.  Since I believe in all of those things today I go back to the front lines of organizing and seek to help others understand those things and make that same choice in the midterm elections this year.  All the talk in the mainstream media is about the enthusiasm gap and how the passion rests on the conservative side of the aisle.  I dare all those in the media to walk into a WFP canvass operation because when they walk out they will think much differently.

In 2008 Barack Obama ran his campaign on the idea that one voice could change a room and that the accumulation of those voices could eventually in the domino effect change the world.  I am a believer to that in the abstract, but what I know even more is that every person I see when I walk in that WFP office this morning will do their part today to help change the world of someone they talk to today about exercising their rights as an informed voter come November 2nd, 2010 and even more they will still be doing it on November 3rd when the cameras stop paying attention at the local levels.

And now a message from Matt Damon:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Republicans Admit There Shall Be No Compromise

For anyone that doubted the conclusions I had drawn last week when I said that if the Republicans were rewarded for the “just say no/take your ball and go home” tactics of the last two years, Mike Pence has erased any of those doubts now.  On Friday, The Hill’s Michael O’brien released an article laying out the GOP game plan post elections titled, “GOP says compromise not on the agenda if they retake the House.”

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Congressman In A Conservative District Shows Democrats The Right Way

Tom Perriello Shows Democrats How To Fight on Donations
Perriello closing Statement 10-19-10 debate Promoting Progressive Principles.

The videos above is exactly what I was talking about the other day when I said that Democrats needed to show their voters that they are proud of their beliefs and values instead of running and hiding just trying to survive and save their jobs.  Perriello is from the conservative leaning 5th district of Virginia and won a close race back in 2008 and many would have "understood" or at least excused it if in trying to get re-elected he did what so many other Democrats have done in this cycle; distancing themselves from their votes and the principles of the party under whom they are on the ballot.  This is not Tom Perriello's way.  He has gone the opposite way and pushed even harder to espouse and explain the progressive values in the face of the long odds in his district.  Whether he wins or not will not be the measure of the character of Tom Perriello because in victory or defeat he gave his constituents an honest campaign and a real choice on Election Day, which is more than many of his colleagues can say.  This is leadership and we need more of it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Look at the Senate Picture

In looking at the races in the US Senate we must in some ways understand where we have been to see where we currently are.  Twelve months ago the assumption was that the Democrats even in a bad environment were going to be a lock to hold on to a majority in the Senate.  A few months ago and even as shortly as a few weeks ago it started to seem as if the Republicans had a real shot at taking control away.  I say taking control away, in terms of the majority, since we have all seen that in reality they have had control of the Senate already by imposing the filibuster proof margins to do anything. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Enthusiasm Gap: Who Is Responsible for It

One of the buzz phrases for the midterms has been “enthusiasm gap” and the talk of how the Republicans are so energized this year while the Democrats are rather indifferent.  First I am not willing to concede the point that the gap exists, but what I will say is that the Republicans/Tea Party supporters certainly appear to be more vocal about it.  What I will look at today is not if the gap exists, but analyze why it might and the responsibilities of the different parties if does.  In doing that I am going to look at the voter, the media and the politicians themselves to see what role they play in ability for an enthusiasm gap to exist.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mainstream Thinking Clouds Reality For Midterm Elections

Here we sit 13 days until the 2010 midterm elections and all across the mainstream media all I see is how the Democrats are about to get rolled by the Republicans/Tea Party candidates.  It may very well happen and to some extent it always happens that the midterms mean losses for the President’s party, but certainly not to the extent that some are projecting.  The talking points are that the losses will be because of: the economy; a distaste for big government; fear of the deficit/national debt; high taxes; health care reform; the need for divided government are the main drivers of the backlash against Democrats and Obama.