Sunday, November 12, 2006

CPR for the DPG

As I watched the soon-to-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi on CNN this morning, I was impressed with her poise and aware that I was watching history in the making-a history that few predicted after the 2004 general election. Yet, some forward thinking Democrats-Pelosi, Schumer, Dean, and others-made it happen. The Republican Party hit their own iceberg, made of Iraq, corruption and partisanship bound together with a healthy doses of arrogance and greed. That alone, though, would not have been enough had the Democrats not worked hard for two years to make sure that they could field and fund credible candidates who could bring those issues to the forefront and, in a word, WIN.

Many people have said that the DPG is dead in the water. Probably so. Just remember, even when serious house cleaning is indicated, that doesn't mean you throw out the silver. Mel asked that I post links to a couple of past-posts that address some of the problems. To that end, I would suggest "Paging Taylor, Cox and Kahn,We are Losing the Battle," and "Street Money and Georgia Politics." These are both posts from June of this year and not-so-co-incidentally focus on the problems with the DPG's ground game. Here is a quote from one of those posts:

"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." (Paging Taylor, Cox and Kahn)

Georgia Democrats need to learn from our mistakes and from the success of the national party. Here are some of my thoughts about we need to do, and I do mean we. Assessment is necessary but as some have said, a circular firing squad is a very bad idea. I hope that State Committee Members and other Democrats will chime in with comments. As consensus develops on key points, I move that to the front page to stimulate further discussion.

My own priorities would include doing everything we can to curb the profit motive in terms of leadership at the state and local level. For example, being paid to do anything by a campaign ought to disqualify a person from serving in state or local party office. Being on a local or state committee is one thing, but when the chair of a county committee is being paid by one of the candidates in a primary, that's a serious problem. Where there is corruption, we have to clean house.

At the state level, we need to hire an executive director who will make creating a fully functional volunteer organization his or her top priority, and we need a chair who can raise money. In this election, we failed when it came to resources, both finances and field. We will lose elections as long as this is the case.

We do not currently pay the chair, but if this is to be a full-time commitment, then we ought to consider doing that. The chair needs to be someone who can lead, inspire and raise money. This person ought to be someone who can stand behind a podium and make you want to be a Democrat. We need to seriously look at the issue of losing support among women and be sure to elect either a female chair or a man who clearly "gets it."

We need to invest heavily in technology and make sure those resources are available on the local level. The online Voter File was, in my opinion, the best resource the Party offered to campaigns. We need to expand the use of that type of technology. Like the Republicans, we need to anticipate who our voters might be, not just by voting history but also by lifestyle and purchasing patterns. I note that though I have never voted in a Republican primary, I got all their mail because they hoped that based on certain demographic data, I might be persuaded to vote for their guy. Didn't work with me, but it did work with others. We need to understand that partisanship is now officially a turn-off and reach for voters who did not support us this cycle.

To move forward, we have to know where we are moving from. I am not talking about long boring non-productive meetings where we all share our ideas about message. I am talking about financial, organizational and personal audits at the state and local level. How much money do we have? What did we spend, and on what? How many county parties exist and what is their level of functionality? How many people are formally affiliated with the DPG or County Parties either as members or donors? The state party needs to help local parties accomplish this task rather than just demanding that it be done.

That's way too much from me. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

5 comments:

Sid Cottingham said...

1. "We do not currently pay the chair, but if this is to be a full-time commitment, then we ought to consider doing that. The chair needs to be someone who can lead, inspire and raise money. This person ought to be someone who can stand behind a podium and make you want to be a Democrat."

I agree 100% with every word of the foregoing quote from your post.

2. "We need to seriously look at the issue of losing support among women and be sure to elect either a female chair or a man who clearly 'gets it.'"

I do not believe the DPG has a long-term problem with female voters. I say this as a believer that the top of our ticket this year fractured the Democratic base, drove away some important supporters, and alienated the most vital interest group of all, women voters.

3. "We need to invest heavily in technology and make sure those resources are available on the local level."

Again, I agree 100%.

Keep up the good work on behalf of the party Amy.

As an aside, the link to "Paging Taylor, Cox and Kahn" is

http://georgiawomenvote.blogspot.com/2006/06/paging-taylor-cox-and-kahn-were-losing.html

Amy Morton said...

Oh, and thanks, I fixed the link.

Amy Morton said...

I hope you are right about the women, Sid. My concern is that the result of this election, in my county alone would mean that people who have never before voted for a Republican, did just that. Doing it once will make it easier to do it again, I fear. Also, many women-maybe many people-now view themselves as swing voters. I think we have to reach out to them.

Tina said...

1)Where no county chair or committee currently exists, an organizer needs to work from a list of people in that county who donated to Democrats, invite them all to breakfast at the local diner and start a committee. Make it easy for them by having sample bylaws ready to customize by filling-in-the-blanks. This cannot be done by phone, letter, or email. It needs to be done in person by a Democratic organizer. Think this way? How would a union do it?
2) County chairs who are closet Republicans or unwilling to actively support Democratic candidates because of local friendships and business associations should graciously invited to step aside and let someone else have the job.
3) County chairs who cannot/will not submit a yearly financial statement from their executive committee should find some other party's finances to handle.

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