Tuesday, June 27, 2006

To stop swiftboating

Go the the Vietnam Memorial, roll up your sleeves, and say, "I have friends, friends that I served with whose names are on this wall. George Felix Allen didn't serve. He has never heard a shot fired in anger. I have. If he would like to compare his patriotism to mine, let him come down here and settle it with me, one on one, man to man. Pause. He doesn't have the guts."

Call the asshole out. Kick his ass. Win Norfolk and Bristol, not just Northern Virginia.

Originally a comment on DailyKos.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Insurgents v. party regulars

Over and over again in the history of the Democratic Party, insurgent candidates and their people (Patrick, Bonifaz, Dean, Reich, Bradley) butt heads with party regulars and their people (Reilly, Galvin, Kerry, O'Brien, Gore). I've been on both sides (Patrick, Galvin, Dean, O'Brien, Gore), so maybe I have some useful observations, and hopefully they'll be unifying.

Regulars are often too insular. Many of them think they own the party and actively resist the arrival of new people. C'mon, these are reinforcements. We need the fresh blood of patriots - but unspilled.

Insurgents are often too self-entitled. Many assume that anything that goes against them is nefarious and illicit. C'mon, the regulars have been fighting the good fight for years; you can't expect to show up and run things just because you're young and beautiful and impatient. Good ideas are just talk unless you work to put them on the agenda and try to pass them.

Regulars carp that they've never seen the insurgents until they just showed up at a caucus. Insurgents sometimes encourage this by winning once and then never coming back to do the steady work of reform from within.

Insurgents often think that some ideal of fairness that they grasp intuitively can override the rules. They may be unhappy if you exclude them from voting at a caucus because they missed the deadline for registering as Democrats, as if the regulars are supposed to be able to see in their hearts that they really were Dems in time.

Process reforms can help these relationships work better. Transparency is a big one. I've been to at least six Mass. Democratic Conventions so I'm prepared for strange delays while the power brokers put the fix in. New people are very put off by this. I don't like it either, but the rules permit it. My desire to change those rules doesn't mean I'm blustering about changing their outcomes this time around.

Politics is both competitive and cooperative, a combination of hard ball and burying the hatchet. The rules are the rules, but we need to help each other when the primary is done.

Often in the past, we haven't helped each other. Scott Harshbarger would've been governor if both wings of the party regulars had cooperated. (Can't blame insurgents for that one.)

Modern campaigns need such deep organizations that those organizations have to be permanent. They can't be put together overnight. As Democrats, we are waaaay behind the Republicans on this.

My challenge for regulars and insurgents alike:

  • Build your organizations.

  • Don't settle for precinct captains; we need eyes and ears and eventually voices on the street (or apartment building floor) level.

  • But prepare something lasting; don't worry about ideological purity or a long history of working with the party. Unify.

  • Come September, be ready to hand over as much of your grassroots as possible to the nominee and the local party committees.
  • That's one part of the formula for winning.

    Originally posted on Blue Mass Group with this poll attached:

    How many times in the 5 listed contests were you an insurgent?

    o Never (hack!)

    o Once

    o Twice

    o Three times

    o Four times

    o Five times (Green!)

    Monday, June 5, 2006

    Convention transparency

    After the 2002 convention fiasco, we Dems spent four years working through the McGovern-Dukakis process to reform approval and endorsement of primary candidates. On the plus side, voting on the floor was smooth and efficient. But what was the net result?

  • All candidates gained the ballot.

  • Counting fewer than 5000 votes still took so long that the convention lasted into the evening.
  • Each of the gubernatorial candidates is a credible candidate; I will support the winner after September. So, what's wrong with the outcome?

    The problem is that the process is dishonest - or looks dishonest. Votes delivered by power brokers to give razor-thin margins of approval matter more than the rest of our votes.

    A fair and above-board process would have the following features:

  • No counting of votes until all votes are recorded.

  • No changing of votes once voting closes.

  • All challenges during the convention must be made in view of the convention by identifiable delegates.

  • After voting has closed, the only admissible challenge is teller accuracy.

  • Counting must take place in public view of the convention.
  • The tallying should be complete in fifteen minutes. And then we could get on with convincing the electorate.

    Originally posted on Blue Mass Group.