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liveoaktx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-26-04 01:32 PM
Original message
Texas Democratic Party Angst at a local level
The county I live in has a very weak Democrat party except when it comes to parties where the food is free or they can rally. The county chairman is in failing health and most of the precinct chairs are not interested in anything further than showing up on election day to help with the polls. I started up monthly meetings under the auspices of the chairman, who was not doing it and had occasional party meetings... in contrast to the Republicans who have monthly meetings regularly. The monthly meetings were sparsely attended, no more than 10 people tops showed up, despite telephone calls, notices in the paper, and the fact that more Dems than Reps voted in the primary (that was not the case during the election proper, more Reps turned out than Dems). I arranged movie nights as well which were also attended by no more than 10 people tops each time, indicating that most people in this county aren't interested in political documentaries such as Bush's Brain, Hijacking Catastropher, etc (the ones that did attend thoroughly enjoyed the movies).
Seems like this Dem party is composed of 2 main groups- a small one that wants to be politically active, and a larger one composed of those who are Dems for the social occasions.
The chairman told me he's been frustrated about the turnout ever since he's been in that position. My own experience with the chairman and his wife have been for them to tell me to stop having such strong opinions, tone it down and aim for the middle positions.
My main question is this. Frankly, the outcome of this election demoralized me but I'm looking to pick up again. The local Dem structure, party-wise, or at least through official channels is weak and I don't think at this point I can alter it for the better. I would like to meet with the Dems locally who share some strong viewpoints and want to be active politically. The chairman has already told me that if we have monthly meetings it will only be because I take the initiative and arrange them-he usually shows up to them but not always. I haven't felt like doing meetings since the election nor has he made any attempt to organize (or console) the Dems.
I'm considering hosting Dem meetings but perhaps not under the *official* auspices of the local Democratic party, but still comprised of Democrats in this county who wish to attend. I don't have any hope that there would be a huge turnout every time unless we made it a party, but the core people would be those who are concerned and we might be able to make a local difference by our partipation.
I know that Austin, for example, has some organizations that are Democrat, but aren't necessarily the local Democratic parties. Fair to say? Is this a problem in the making?
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mhr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-26-04 01:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. I Think Democrats Are Demoralized Because They Have Finally
Figured out how rigged the system has become and that the Republicans have done the rigging.

I think we are all witnessing a "you can't fight city hall" moment.

I believe that we will need to see a demonstrative failure by the Republicans or a telling stand taken by national Democrats before party members will muster the energy to fight again.

In other words, why beat your brains out if no one cares or worse yet no one is even watching.
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Tandalayo_Scheisskopf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-26-04 01:44 PM
Response to Original message
2. It't politics...
And there will always be problems. Politics is about people and people always find a way to turn to friction.

That said, if you believe in your positions, organize a group of like-minded souls. Develop the positions and present them as a bloc at some future meeting. Use your group to spread out.

Remember: politics is also about coalition-building.
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ChicanoPwr Donating Member (536 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-26-04 01:45 PM
Response to Original message
3. I am 100% there for you
I wrote to our chairman and he never responded. I wrote because I told I has happy to criticized the National Party for ignoring us. I also told him I was happy to help and felt since I was a young adult I am being ignored. Obvious, the chairman is no different. If you are willing to lead the charge on this endeavor, I got you back. Our State and County really needs to be revamped. Take a look now, where the hell is our Party and how come they are not standing up for the two State Reps who won their elections and now being challenged by the Repukes? We should crying foul. THEY ARE NOT DOING A DAMN THING, I really hope it's not because they are minorities.

So, if you need help, you have one loyal Dem who is willing to help all that I can.
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ashling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-26-04 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
4. what county are you in?
I just moved back to Llano County after spending 3 yrs in Washington State.
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Gman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-26-04 02:38 PM
Response to Original message
5. Live Oak, Tx is in Bexar County
But what you describe is not what's happening in San Antonio & Bexar County. Are you in Live Oak County/Three Rivers?
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liveoaktx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-26-04 03:50 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. No, my name doesn't represent the county
I live in Somervell. I just have a lot of live oaks on my property!
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crispini Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-27-04 12:00 AM
Response to Original message
7. It's happening across the nation as well as Texas.
The election brought in a HUGE groundswell of new activists who are full of energy and want to do 1,000 things. The old line who have been around for a while are reacting in various ways.

IMO it sounds like you are ALREADY doing good work under the auspices of the DP w/ meetings and movies. It seems like you have built a dedicated more hard core of people who attend your viewings etc. I am not sure why you think building something outside the party would bump your attendance. Is there something in the meetings themselves that you think is turning your attendees off? Are your leaders being deliberately obstructionist, or just kind of lacsadasical?

I am trying to encourage local groups here in town to merge. I am strongly against duplication of work by various organizations. That said, if there is a clearcut reason why you don't think you can work with the local DP, then try to build your own. I haven't seen a really clear one in your post, (not to say there isn't one, I just haven't seen it), other than frustration with turnout. The Q: there is, would you get better turnout by doing something outside the DP?

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muse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-27-04 03:12 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. Are people even attracted to working with the local dem party?
I sense that is one of the problems with the Democratic Party on all levels. There needs to be some new ways of doing business and FAST or else the scenario presented here will be repeated all over the country - and that may be a good thing (or not). When you think of working with the democratic party, do you think "organized, efficient, changing to meet new ways of doing things, modern, uses technology and communication tools well", etc.?

Busy professional adults are looking for something that is effective and efficient and we know what that looks like when we see it. The Democratic Party isn't necessarily the first organization that comes to mind. Witness the rise of all of the 527s during the election. Everyone flocked to them as exciting possibilities of a new ways of doing things and getting to the grassroots and right down to business to cause change.

Yet, crispini, I too am very concerned about all of these groups working in parallel with the same missions, goals and objectives. I think we saw during this election that the Republican Party had an effective machine (again) organized from the national level on down to the local level that made it all happen. We had a many different groups doing our work in an uncoordinated fashion.
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crispini Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-27-04 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Hey, the local dem party is what WE make it.
I've seen cities where the local DP had stellar use of technology, wonderful coordination, and totally organized people. So I know it can be done, and it's one of the missions of our group of activists -- take over our local DP as much as possible.

Of course they are hamstrung by some regulations, so there is a case to be made for some groups for remaining outside, but despite all their flaws, the local DP is, and I think will remain, a natural rallying point for local candidates, clubs, etc. in a way that no 527 can be. So IMO, if you can, it's better to fix what you got than try to reinvent the wheel.

IMO a LOT of people who are new to organizing and new to volunteering for political causes are mistaking the problems that come with working with a mostly volunteer, mostly underfunded organization, with problems that are specific to the (local) Democratic party. I've been on the boards of charities and my HOA and I've been a volunteer leader at my church, and this whole, "We can't get stuff done efficiently," issue has NOTHING to do with the (local) DP specifically, and EVERYTHING to do with working with an underfunded group of busy volunteers, who have wildly different levels of expertise and committment, and different personal styles.

Basically, SSDD. :evilgrin:

Just my two cents.....

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muse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-27-04 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Good examples and your position is a good one.
You are right about volunteer organizations being all about what the volunteers make it. My concern is also a top down one. Are the people at the top who are getting paid - national and state chairpersons - doing all they can to modernize and make our organization efficient and effective? I think the perception is "no", but that might change with a new leader at the top. I use the term "perception" because I know McAuliffe has done a tremendous service to our party to move it forward in terms of modernizing our operations. The perception is that we still have a ways to go, but perhaps a new leader can articulate the situation for us in a way that will build confidence in the DNC.

This is a great topic thread because all of this needs to be addressed before we all go off in a million different directions and start right now making a mess of the 2008 election due to duplicated and uncoordinated efforts. I am VERY concerned about this.

Crispini, are you confident in our state dem chair? I don't know a lot about the history or current situation of the person in that position, so I don't know what to think. I know he was furious about TX not getting a dime from the DNC during this election cycle and told the state dems to send their contributions to the state dem party and not the national. I thought that went too far because we HAD to get Kerry elected and if that meant concentrating on the swing states, so be it. Now that we lost, the state dem chairs that were treated like ours was are all very unhappy with the DNC about the decision to not give money to non-swing states.

I know our chair has just had cancer surgery, so I don't want to heap a lot of negativity on him right now, but I wonder what those who know, know about him.
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crispini Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-27-04 07:52 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Yeah, I don't know much about the top down concerns.
Edited on Sat Nov-27-04 07:54 PM by crispini
I agree with you that leaders can do a lot. I'm just getting involved here, with this election, so I don't know too much about how good the state party leadership is.

My total experience with Charles Soechting (sp?) is the editorial you cite about keeping your money in Texas. I do think he's got a good point about that, and I have to admit, I like the "standing up to the big guys" attitude that it's got. I also like the idea that he is not willing to write Texas off but is really interested in building something here. And, the TX state and individual county parties, from what I have read, are so hurting for money that it's probably more than a little irritating to have the DNC come in here and raise a shitload of money at the Barak Obama fundraiser and take it all out of the state.

So, to answer your question about state party - I don't know, yet. I'm hoping as I get more involved I'll find out more.

Now, my impression is that the *county* parties have a fair amount of autonomy as far as how they run their business. When I went down to Austin for the Democracy for America training, and Glen Maxey described how they ran their coordinated campaign, I was COMPLETELY blown away. He strikes me as amazingly organized and together. I'm REALLY looking forward to the next Austin DFA training... we hope to take a TON of people from here. Are you going to go? What county are you in again?
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muse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-28-04 06:23 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. sorry to say, I'm in Tom DeLay territory
Fort Bend County. During the election season, I participated in a lot of stuff in Harris County - League of Women Voters as a volunteer voter registrar, meetups, etc. I was a volunteer in the Richard Morrison campaign against DeLay. The Fort Bend County dem party is interesting because they have different "clubs" that meet separately from the FB dem organization - there is a Fort Bend club and a Katy club and others.
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fudge stripe cookays Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-04 11:03 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Hey muse--
Have you hooked up with Brazosboomer yet?

You guys are both in that area, and she's a feisty, mouthy, liberal gal. If I was in Juanita Jean's neck of the woods, I'd latch onto that girl and hold on tight. She's a jewel!


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crispini Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-04 03:16 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. I hope you'll come to the DFT training in Austin!
That'll be big fun. I saw Richard Morrison at the one I went to before the election. I really like him, he's a great speaker and such a charming fella. We need more like him.

We've got clubs running out our ears up here too. I think that's just kind of SOP for a big urban area, to have smaller, more regional clubs which support the county party.
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