Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Debunking the myth of the Faustian Republicans

I have had a very quiet summer since I left my (political) job, resting up and trying to get on top of my crazy insomnia and some other health concerns.

In the past week or so, fairly randomly and out of the blue, I've had the pleasure of talking with or even seeing in person some of my favourite political people (well, favourite people, period) from Northern Virginia, many of whom are scattered around the country right now.

And I've reached a few conclusions:
  • I love Democrats, I really do. I adore the rank and file Democrats that I have the pleasure and honor of meeting and working side by side with in this line of work.
  • I hate the big Democratic machine. We aren't professional, we are grossly disfunctional, and we perform so poorly that we don't deserve to win. I'll say it again: we don't deserve to win.

  • I know great prospective candidates that get shut out by the personal prejudices or the petty provincial concerns of regional democratic organizations (I don't think I'm out of line I cite Becky Cate as an example, for any Northern Virginia readers who have followed that saga in the news); I have friends working on targetted races that are flogging their workers and volunteers to death trying to run rural field models in urban areas--and wondering why morale is low, staff turnover is high, and the candidate is slipping in the polls; I know people trying desperately to drum up volunteers, for targetted races, where the Democratic party in its infinite wisdom is fielding a candidate that is anti-choice, anti-environment...and then the campaign is suprised when the base doesn't turn up to help (the base, in fact, has made itself clear that it is making a point of staying home, and the republican-lite candidate is on its own); I have friends working with the Kerry Edwards campaign in a state that is fully staffed with multiple campaign offices, paid staff, overhead costs...and they aren't running ANY field campaign activites...(WTF???); and I know state legislators who are so naive about American politics that they don't have the sense to recognize that the same shit going on at the federal level rolls down hill (with a nudge from Karl Rove) and they are shocked when it hits them.

    A great, hysterical, celebrate-our-victimhood-and-righteous-martyrdom myth of Democrats I've worked with across the country is that the Republicans win because they are evil and sneaky.

    Er, no.

    They win because they have discipline and organization and they approach politics like a business. Democrats do politics like community theatre. They train for the Olympics like a cold-war era Soviet team and while we throw together a pick-up team for a game of street hockey.

    We don't deserve to win.

    The Democratic Party doesn't deserve to win, but the American people don't deserve to lose. And, other than Howard Dean's Democratic machine, the people are locked out of American politics.

    I am angry and disgusted right now. And exhausted.

    This week has demonstrated that I am up for helping Democrats get elected who want to win, but not for fighting with Democrats who want to lose the way we always have.

    Damn them.

    We have tremendous work to do in reforming the Democratic party. I'm committed to getting good Democrats elected in the interim. And, I'm doing what I can to teach students how to win and do this right, so they can bring a culture of winning and best practices up with them through the ranks. Otherwise, I don't even know where to start to fix up a pervasive, pathological mess like this--but if someone else can point the way, I'll do whatever I can to work towards a solution.

    (And, in the meantime, I really am exhausted and back to wacky insomnia. Plus I have the opportunity to help some great people look at their field data. I'm resting up and trying to get my brain sharpened, and real politics takes precedent over blogging.)

    Out of curiosity, how many readers are volunteering with a campaign right now? (or interested, but don't know what to do or how to get in?) How many work in politics? How many are considering or might be interested in running for elected office down the road?

    Rambly post, I know; I didn't want to abandon the site altogether while I'm fog headed.