Friday, December 03, 2004

 

The opportunities are there

This is one of those good news/bad news stories. From the Middletown Journal we get this fascinating nugget:
[. . .] Even though John Kerry lost the presidential election, his campaign galvanized the Butler County Democratic party and spurred it into action. In a county where almost all the local government positions are staffed by Republicans — and where a visit by President Bush drew the largest rally numbers of the campaign — Democrats came out of the woodwork to knock on doors, staff phone banks — and vote.

Now they say Kerry’s defeat only strengthened their resolve. The county party is growing, in numbers and fervor, and is planning a comeback.

“That was one of the things with the Kerry campaign. Those who had not been active in political campaigns before, for the first time in their lives they got active in it,” said Dan Gattermeyer, chairman of the Butler County Democratic Party. “People had strongly held beliefs in this election. People who believed in Kerry believed in him strongly,” he said. [. . .]

Attendance at the Democratic Party’s Nov. 18 meeting was about 70 to 80 people — higher than it had been in years, he said.

“We wondered if it would drop off after the election. It was just the opposite. Although we lost the races, we gained momentum. I think we can build a firm system to continue this momentum,” Gattermeyer said.
We aren't surprised at all by this. Actually, this is the kind of thing that we have been found ourselves discussing frequently with others over the last couple of weeks, namely that there is a huge residual amount of untapped, untamed political activism that is yearning to stay active - despite the election outcome.

That's precisely one of the points of our "Open Letter to Tim Russo." Whether it was through ACT or MoveOn or the Democratic Party or the unions or whatever group, there is a huge group out there in Ohio looking for leaders, issues, direction and a plan. The second point of the "Open Letter" is that because none of these groups have made serious attempts to keep these people organized after the election, many of them are spontaneously gravitating to recount/voter fraud issue because it is the only issue that is giving these folks an outlet and a context to continue to be politically active.

The fact is that a large portion of the 70-80 people who came to the Butler County Democrats' meeting got their on their own - not because the Dems had recruited them to come.

As we said at the top, there is apparently bad news in this, too.
The Butler County Democratic Party’s goals: win support, win votes and win elections. The first step is getting good candidates.

Butler County lost its last Democratic office in 2000, when Republican Robin Piper defeated Gattermeyer in the race for county prosecutor. The local Democratic candidates have been consistently defeated in every election since.

But Gattermeyer said he has already met with “quite a few” promising candidates for the 2005 election. He said the party will try to get a Democratic presence into lower-level offices, like township trustee and clerk positions. Then they will begin to gain ground toward the countywide seats.
We hope the newspapers got it wrong. We hope that Gattermeyer and the others didn't really bore those that attended the meeting to tears by discussing candidates. Hopefully they are not that fucking stupid.

Butler Co. and the other county Democratic Party organizations better be spending their time focusing on ISSUES that are important to those 70-80 people. Chrissakes, they could care less about candidates at this point. Those 70-80 came out because the are concerned about specific issues and concerned about where their community and their state is going. We suspect they want to do concrete organizing on jobs, schools, safety, the environment, the war, etc..

Anyone with a smidgen of wisdom would be spending time at this point just listening to these folks, and then helping them put together a plan to achieve what they want to achieve. It really is pretty simple.

We can't count how many times people have stopped us and asked, "How can follow what's going on in Ohio?"

That's the big question. We worked with MoveOn, ACT, the Ohio Dems, the unions during the elections and we were on a dozen email lists. But, with the exception of one financial solicitation from the national Dems, one financial solicitation from MoveOn, and one email about a MoveOn conference call, no one has asked us to get involved with anything. The one odd exception is the Glibs group who have at least tried to get us to be recount monitors. We doubt we're the exception.

What happened to the precinct networks organized by MoveOn and the Democratic Party? What happened to the door-to-door and phonebank teams organized by labor and ACT?
What happened to the student groups that popped up at the campuses?

It will be a betrayal of all the good activism the pro-Kerry forces did in 2004 if the Dems and the other groups let these people fall into the cracks and disappear.

The Ohio Democratic Party has a small window of opportunity to reunite these people. For gods' sakes, don't let it pass by.




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