Saturday, June 10, 2006

Paging Taylor, Cox and Kahn: We're Losing the Battle

On the homepage of the Democratic Party of Georgia, there is a tab marked "Get Involved." Go, there, click on that tab, and this is what you will find this:

Coming Soon
This section of the site is under construction and should be available in the next couple of days. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to call our office at (404) 870-8201 and we will be glad to assist you.

Not exactly what I was hoping to see. In defense of the Party, the site is new, and much improved, but let's face facts: in Georgia, and nationally, republicans beat us on the ground in 2002 and 2004, and they are set to do it again if democrats do not develop a coordinated field campaign. I'm not suggesting that no one is out there trying. But I am saying that we have not accomplished establishing the coordinated, effective network of local volunteers necessary to carry the fall election. And if we don't do something soon, all the television in the world is not going to win this critical contest.

In 2002, I recall sitting with others at the Bibb County Board of Elections watching the numbers roll in on the governor's race. We were stunned when the race was called for Perdue. Perdue, the guy from Bonaire who we couldn't quite believe made it out of their primary. Perdue who had been out-spent, by what? Five to one? More than that? Perdue who had never been ahead in any poll. Sonny Perdue was going to be governor. You could've knocked me over with a feather. What did it? Teachers? Flaggers? Maybe, but I'm going with the Ralph-Reed-created stealth network of loyal volunteers that day after day rang the phones, knocked on the doors and beat the bushes for Perdue.

And they're at it again. Several weeks ago Perdue announced that he is the only candidate in the race with a chair in every Georgia county. Today, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that local Perdue supporters gathered this morning in Dalton to vote on 23 precinct captains and to fill other positions in the local Perdue organization. I'll bet this is not the only county where that's happening, and as a side note, these folks are taking the time to organize despite the fact that in 2002 Perdue carried 69% of the vote in Whitfield County. Their goal this time is to add another five points.

I'm trying to imagine what it would be like here in Bibb (a traditional democratic-as in we voted for Kerry-stronghold) to have to hold an election for precinct captains. Hell, I'd be pleased if one person from each precinct showed up for a meeting.

This year, the republicans will have both the money to run the media and the volunteers to get out the votes. And there-in lies our problem. No matter how wonderful our candidates are. No matter how poor a job Sonny's done. No matter what ethical questions plague Reed. This time around, the Georgia Republican's potent punch of money and local, grassroots networking will be the demise of Georgia Democrats this November, and we will wind up with Governor Perdue and Lt. Governor Reed, unless we act right now to put in place local, well oiled teams of volunteers.

So, I am ringing the alarm bell today. I'm not pointing fingers because I see this as every democrat's challenge. I'm not suggesting that Taylor and Cox are ignoring field work. It is a key component of Cox's plan, and and I impressed with what I have seen so far. I am sure that Taylor is addressing it, too. At the level of the state party, we have spent a lot of time planning, a lot of time trying to define grassroots, and there have been efforts to recruit and train at the local level, but at this point, I'd have to say we still have a lot of work to do, and the election is less than six months away. So, if you are a Georgia Democrat, and believe as I do that this is a watershed, must-win election, then pick up the phone and call your local party, or call the State Party at 404-870-8201. If we hope to win in November, we have to do this right now.


Button Gwinnett said...

Part of the problem is that even when the Dems were in control, some of the smaller counties outside of the metro Atlanta area didn't even have an active local chapter of the Democrtic party. Not because those counties didn't support Dems (most of their local offices were held entirely by Dems), but because there was so little Republican opposition.

But in just a decade, the Republicans put together some effective local leadership and have either pulled even or gained control. And they caught us napping.

I used to get extremely frustrated when I needed to find Dems for the local election board or for poll workers, and there wouldn't even be a current contact person.

Like you, I want to win this election more than anything. Because I fear that if we don't, we won't see Dems elected to statewide office here for a long time. We've got to get back to our roots. And we've got to do a better job of recruiting candidates, poll workers, poll watchers, and volunteers.

Marc Garvey said...

From the OP,
there-in lies our problem. No matter how wonderful our candidates...
Uhh...far from taking that for granted, I vehemently disagree. Our candidates aren't wonderful. The Republican Party is the party of the white male (and his hangers on). The Dem Party is racially stratified and thus there is no coherent message and a very serious lack of unity.

Virtually all of the discussions among Democrats ignore this very obvious fact which cuts to the core of most all Georgia politics. Instead pretending like the Dem Party is okay 'if only we could get organized'.


We've got some serious internal problems that have nothing to do with organizing and everything to do with a lack of unity along racial lines. If one doubts this just think about how Congresswoman McKinney is one of if not the most popular black politicians in the state of Georgia and probably the country, among black folks. But self-identifying white progressives from Georgia will not miss an opportunity to disparage and take her apart along with the Right wingers. And considering the congresswoman's voting record, the criticisms almost always have nothing to do with her politics but with media sensationalism.
Same thing with Jesse Jackson and other black politicians that are highly popular among blacks but disparaged and attacked by the white left.

Our problem isn't the Republicans. The Dem Party's problem is itself and how bad it is on race.

Marc Garvey said...

And I will submit that no Democrat ever says he/she has something against a black politician based on race.

That is not the charge here.

Because even Republicans say their problem with blacks isn't about race. Whenever this is mentioned, a white Democrat will pipe up that their problems with McKinney or Jackson or someone have nothing to do with race. This is what the Tom Delay's of America say as well. That it is not about race. When that happens black people and white Democrats don't take the pious pronouncements of Republicans seriously.
When white Democrats behave like the Delays regarding black politics, the double standard kicks in and the Delay response that its not about race, becomes a valid defense for white Democrats. Who decides what is and isn't racism?

The targets, black folks and black politicians?
Or white pundits, white observers and white politicians?

As a heterosexual male, I don't feel that I should be the arbiter of what is or is not an attack on the gay community. They know better than I do when and how they are threatened. It's my job to listen and support them in their fights. Even if they say that something I'm doing is problematic.

But watch when a black person or black politician describes a racist dynamic being played out. White Democrats come out of the woodwork to challenge the reality and perceptions of black voters and polticians. Its disgusting and has been going on for decades.

So while I understand your frustration with the Dem Party. I'm frustrated as well. Paging Taylor, Cox and Kahn may not be the answer.

MelGX said...

Well, it's always tough to follow Smitty (either one of them), but I've got a suggestion that is more micro. One of the things I've noticed in my brief term as a County Party officer is that many of my counterparts from other counties have held their seats for years. I’m not talking 5 or even 10 years. Some chairs, vice chairs, etc. have held seats for over 30 years. While I think this shows a remarkable commitment to the Democratic Party, it’s not very healthy for the party as a whole. To grow an organization, there must be a regular infusions of new energy and ideas. For young, committed volunteers, there has to be the promise of promotion within the ranks of the party structure. Leadership is often the most effective reward for hard work. I’ve proposed (albeit informally), that County Party officers should be term limited across the state. I’m convinced that this small step could change the fortunes of the Democratic Party, almost over night.

yardman5508 said...

...and part of the problem is that we are trying to compare ourselves to the Republicans and we are NOT Republicans. While it would be nice to be as uberorganized as they are, we have to find our own way. Remember, nationally, we have come very, VERY close to winning elections, even being as "unorganized" as we are. What we have to do is figure out how to mobilize the electorate based on our ideas, not on our organizational skills. If our message is right, we are the ONLY party that represents the people.

Marc Garvey said...

I'd like to ditto melgx's commentary. I do think that would change the party right away. However, there are cliques (as we know) and if the same type of people just rotate around, well....

And I'll add that we seem to always get stuck discussing details that while important, don't get to the heart of our political problems.

Look at the demographics on the city, county or state level. Then look at the rates at which the various demographics vote Democrat. The only real reason the Right has a chance is because the Left is so divided along racial lines. I always get the feeling (from the distinct lack of response to such an obvious problem) that everyone knows it's true but doesn't want to or doesn't know how to even begin dealing with it and thus pretends it's not an issue and that it wasn't just mentioned.

I don't think any of the suggestions and comments in this thread are bad ideas. I question the priorities. Race is the root of the Left's problem, as it has been for a hundred years.

I don't see how we can confront this problem if people cringe just at honestly discussing even the most basic aspects of the problem or again, pretending its not the main problem and that party technicalities are. Priorities!

tribalecho said...

"Perdue who had been out-spent, by what? Five to one? More than that? Perdue who had never been ahead in any poll..."

And I'm sure it would be considered crazy to wonder if it had anything to do with those nebulous voting machines. Tom Murphy....lost in space.