Friday, November 10, 2006

A Perfect Storm

On Election Day, as I made my way from the polls, I called a good friend at the DPG and told him that everyone, even Marshall, was in trouble. Georgia Democrats were caught in a Perfect Storm: it was raining, Republican turnout was strong, the National GOP had invested heavily in Georgia because of Burns and Collins, Democrats failed to invest in meaningful, coordinated GOTV, and our candidate for Governor was a twenty point drag on the ticket. Had any one of these factors been different, it might not have been such a blood bath.

While Democrats have had a great week nationally, a tornado we both seeded and ignored the warnings for ripped through the DPG. We seeded the storm by failing to prevent our two strongest candidates from destroying one another in the primary. We failed to respond to the warnings provided in polling, and despite knowing that we would be unable to match the Republican Money Tree, we failed to invest in field. Seems like all the Street Money went up in smoke during the primary.

Now, many of us have emerged from our storm shelters, ready to clean up the mess. Fair warning: we do need to analyze and clean house, but the energy that follows a disaster of this proportion is often short-lived. As people realize that the task at hand is long, hard and expensive, people become depressed, and blame and anger often replace resolve. We already know about blame. What remains to be seen is whether we've learned anything.

There is no overnight fix, but business as usual is not an option. There has been a lot of discussion about who should become Party Chair. We definitely need a change in direction, but, seriously, isn't that sort of like trying to decide who should be the new captain of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg? We need to salvage what we can and get a new boat.


MelGX said...

It's generally agreed (at least among everyone I've talked with), that the party will be starting fresh in January. How the party rebuilds from there (the direction and form it will take), depends in large part on who is elected as the next Chair.

That's why getting the right person in this position is key to any future success. The next chair will set the tone, the priorities and the agenda for the next 2-4 years.

demblogs said...

Great post. This nation spoke on election day and Dems have a great chance and a big chore ahead of them, ending the divided government that the past Republicans were so famous for. Many opinions have been offered as to why Georgia broke the national trend on Nov 7, none are very convincing in my opinion. But even as Georgia remains solidly Republican the Democratic party of the state has a rare opportunity and with the right leader and I believe respect and party loyalty can be regained. Although the next chair will no doubt be important local party chapters will be the glue. In the past 8 years these chapters have been basically nonexistent, esp. smaller rural areas. I think building from the ground up with local chapters will be the key and maybe even a split chair-one representing Macon and north and one representing south of Macon..culturally speaking these 2 parts of state are light years apart in every way imaginable.

Tina said...

We have county chairs who need to decide whether they are going to be active Democrats or not. Those who are "laying low" as Democrats or supporting their friends who are Republican candidates need to go ahead and quit and let someone more enthusiastic about the Democratic party take over. I would suggest that it would not be amiss to request an audit from some of these county parties.

Jackie A said...

Suddenly I find myself very interested in becoming involved in politics.

I went to my assigned precinct fully intending to vote straight Democratic, but
on November the 7th I was not allowed to vote. I had been purged from the registration records. I also found the following information at the election board website misleading:

“Registration is permanent if you:

Notify the Board of Elections of a change of address within Bibb County. Notify the Board of Elections if you change your name. (NOTE: Upon registration in Bibb County, previous registration will be cancelled.) A separate registration for city elections is not required. “

I have not had a name change or change of address since 1990. I do not remember ever getting mail from the board of elections or any other information related to my voter registration. In fact I still have my voter registration card dated 1992 and have thought of it as being a valid ID.

I can not recall reading anything about the voting registration process in the news. I thought registration was permanant and the few people I have discussed it with also seemed to think that registration is permanant.

It disturbed me that I was turned away from my voter precinct on November the 7th. After leaving my precinct I made a trip to the election board offices to find out why I was not in the system as a registered voter. I was informed by a representative there that if I hadn’t voted in the last two general elections that I was no longer eligible to vote. (I haven’t voted since the Clinton election.). I went online to research the codes and found the possible explanation for being purged from the registration data base in code 21-2-234.§ion=234

My goal will be to educate voters before the next elections (especially the presidential election) I will let voters know that if they haven't voted recently their registration is no longer valid. I know that I am rarely the "only one". In fact people that I discussed it with also thought that registration to vote was permanant.

Of course, on Novemeber the 8th I filled out a form to register once again and sent it to Atlanta. Too late for this past election but I want to be sure that I can cast my democratic vote in 2008.

Amy Morton said...

Jackie, I did not know that missing two generals nulified your registration! How absurb!

Melanie: I agree that who becomes chair matters. I think, though that the needed change is more fundamental. There are plenty of people who believe that the Party has been a walking corpse since 2002, maybe before. I am concerned that we will do the immediate and 'easy' thing- fill the posts and offices but fail to really make any substantive changes.

How can we avoid that? Is it time for a Democratic 'summit" not called by the party-proper?

Tina said...

Jackie, I would check with the State Bd of Elections w/regard to your being purged from the rolls.
Also do find out if you need to register again so this won't happen to you in 2008.

MelGX said...

A summit would be ideal, but it's always difficult to pull together State Committee Members. A series of conference calls might work, but I’m not sure who would host them. Maybe this is a good project for GWV.

As absurd as it sounds, there is value to blogging about this. I'm beginning to see consensus emerge, both online and offline about certain issues. For example, I've spoken to about 30 friends since Tuesday and everyone agrees there was no "ground game"--no field plan or volunteer base to support the candidates.

That’s just one example, but it seems many of the problems are glaringly obvious to most of us, and are being mentioned repeatedly. Tina pointed out the issue with “chair squatting” at the county party level. How many Democrats around the state do you think have the same complaint? My guess is plenty. For this reason, I’m in favor of terms limits on County Chairs, That’s a controversial notion, but I’m convinced it’s necessary.

It’s important for as many people as possible to discuss this with friends and fellow State Committee Members in order to crystallize their thoughts on the matter. Maybe I’m delusional, but the beauty of this next DPG administration is that WE, not the Governor, get to choose the officers and set the tone. This is a first in the history of the DPG.

I’d like to hear what would be at the top of your priority list? Your ideas are often some of the best. I know you’ve posted a few entries about this in the past, but without a search function they’re a little tough to find. Maybe you could do a recap and list them, or start over and lay out your main concerns and ideas.

Many State Committee Members read this blog. The press people read this blog. The direction you think the party should take is important to many people, and will influence the thinking of others.

Tina said...

My first suggestion is that a "roll call" survey of all county chairs be done. All need access to e-mail'; all must pledge to be willing to vocally support Democrats in 2008. My second suggestion is that beginning with 2008, all county chairs be required to submit an audit to the state party showing what was done with donations and fees paid by candidates in 2007. That will give them a year's notice to get their books in order.

Amy Morton said...

Melanie, thanks. I think that there are a lot of good ideas out there, but I will put some personal priorities in today's post with the hope that others will add their two cents. We do need to move forward with a plan, and I would be glad to help host a meeting. Perhaps others could suggest a facilitator who would both draw the crowd and help us focus on a plan. You can use the google search at the top of the blog to search for old posts. Just click the "search this blog" option. I will try to link a couple of oldies. As it happened nationally, if the Georgia GOP continues to value partisanship over partnership and the public becomes convinced that power has indeed corrupted, then we do have a shot at some recovery in 2008. But only if we change our own course.

definitelydemo said...

Since business as usual with the state Democratic party has not worked, I agree we need to look outside of the box. I'd like to throw out an idea just to get feedback.

I was thinking it would be a good idea to have Co-Chairs for the state party. Possibly one good at raising money and the other good at grassroots organization. Possibly a male and a female.

It's just a thought. I think the by-laws would have to be changed.

I know two things for sure. One,I have talked many times to the powers that be regarding what we are doing wrong as a no avail. Two, we can't keep doing the same thing.

Thanks for your thoughts.