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Web Letter

I have been a grassroots organizer for the Democrats and I suggest a follow-up piece on several implementation components of the strategy that need more work.

1) Establish transparency in financial aspects of campaigns to include, e.g., fees made to campaign managers based on ad dollars spent (talk about a disincentive to fund yard signs) and fees paid for mailing lists. (I worked diligently to add voter names to a file only to learn a private individual owned the list!)

2) Get campaigns of individual candidates to work with the party--very little list-sharing or sharing of volunteers' proprietary information--so there are multiple campaigns running in the same area.

3) Develop an architecture for data gathering so that data can be shared between campaigns and over the years.

4) Provide support for creating mailings and websites so that each group can build on a solid base rather than start fresh.

5) Our group could not figure out an economic way to have a phone or a computer. Instead, we changed phone numbers frequently as volunteers changed or had no phone. Our computer work was done on personal computers, so the effort was dependent on the availability and whims of one person. Why couldn't the party figure this out and let us purchase phones and computers and software through a nation wide buying plan?

6) Set up a target for election day and work backwards to figure out how to make it happen.

Joe Messinger

Cedarburg, WI

Aug 8 2007 - 6:46pm

Web Letter

Thanks, Bob Moser, for an excellent article about the accomplishments of the Fifty State Strategy that perfectly accords with my experience here in Berks County, Pennsylvania, a swing county composed of rural farms, the diverse city of Reading and suburban commuters to Philly.

I became a precinct leader a year ago, after years of outside-the-party activism in movements, campaigns, and Moveon.org. A fellow Deaniac who had become a precinct leader recruited me. For the first time in twenty years our little Republican- majority precinct now has Democratic precinct leaders. Last summer, a dynamic new DNC organizer (a local, community-based hire) came to our County Committee meeting and organized precinct leaders into regions by state legislative district. In the November 2006 election, we chalked up victories in three out of four offices on the ballot including winning our seat in the State Assembly, which had been Republican for twenty years. Statewide, Pennsylvania Democrats won a new, one-seat majority in the State Assembly.

A couple of observations that I would add to Bob Moser's account of Howard Dean's influence on the party: Dean has not only put organizers into the states, he also inspired many of his supporters to become active in the party and to run for office. Our local party is enlivened by many 2004 Deaniacs who are now precinct leaders, and who may develop into candidates. And Chairman Dean has also introduced into the party the democratic, you-own-it online organizing that fueled his campaign. Check out the Party Builder software, which enables any Democrat to easily establish an online profile, event announcements and groups, and to find and communicate with local Dems.

While the DNC was spending small amounts of money to help us build our local party in 2006, we also witnessed the DCCC waste millions in poorly conceived direct mail and TV ads that turned off voters in a failed congressional race last fall. The campaign in PA 6th was directed by Washington people whom we never saw and who did not know our region. And when the DC-based staffers left, they also took all the volunteer data bases with them--leaving us with nothing to build from for the next attempt to take back this Congressional seat. The DNC organizing efforts, by contrast, have both an immediate and a long-term focus, helping us to build local organizations that will carry over from one candidate and election year to the next.

I spent last evening volunteering at our County Democrats table at the Reading Fair. In the music tent nearby a Beatles cover band provided the soundtrack as we helped voters switch their registrations from Republican to Democrat, and our candidates for sheriff, county commissioner, judge, and recorder of deeds handed out their printed buttons, pens, emery boards and yard signs. We'll be there all week--our county commissioners' race is crucial: we need to elect two good Dems and defeat an ultra-rightwing Republican (a graduate of Bob Jones U., and opponent of farmland preservation). The local stakes are high in this election, but the national stakes are high too: The county commissioners oversee the Board of Elections, and we know that we will again be a swing county in a swing state in 2008, and we want a clean and fair election.

Contributors: please support the DNC while Dean is in charge. I used to send DNC appeals back to Terry McAuliffe with angry notes, but Dean is spending your money well. Here's my DNC fundraising page, where you can contribute online. And here's my DNC Party Builder Page, alive and well in Purple America:

Cynthia Baughman

Douglassville, PA

Aug 7 2007 - 10:37am

Web Letter

The Beltway is not the country, and national Democrats do not listen to the people who put them in office. The national Republicans didn't listen to the people before the 2006 election, and got their heads handed to them in that election. Local party leaders are closer to the people, and hear their concerns. Based on their concerns, local candidates can formulate polices that addresses those concerns in their campaign and, hopefully, in Washington when they are elected.

The national party is hot for "free trade" that outsources jobs and industries overseas for cheap labor. They are for in-sourcing cheap temporary labor to drive down wages in the jobs that remain in the US. It is not only low-wage jobs but high-tech jobs through HB1 type visas from India. There are, at least, eight temporary worker programs now in place. In other words, all classes of labor are threatened by "free trade" and open borders.

I do not like most of the Democratic candidates for President because they will sell out this country as quick as the Republicans. The one or two I do like, as people, don't have a clue about running the country. We are in big trouble.

Pervis J. Casey

Riverside, CA

Aug 2 2007 - 1:13pm

Web Letter

Just read Moser's article about N.Carolina and Dean online, and am glad to see The Nation including more about the South, and Moser writing about the details of this organizing effort.

I was living in Atlanta, and worked in the various campaigns in the metro area, including that of Sen. Nan Orrock, WAND and antiwar leader, and was glad that she won, and amazed at the little resources given in the preceeding election to organizing and getting out the vote by the losing campaign of the then Democratic Governor, replaced by Republicans Purdue and shameless draft-dodging war-crying Chamliss.

Long-term rebuilding of democracy, as well as the Democratic Party, in the SE requires steady, long-term commitment of resources, as Gov. Dean has begun (note begun)!

I'm now in Nashville, and hope that former Sen. Sasser's son, a party activist, can help rebuild from the ashes of hysteria politics, based on "guns" and "gays" and get back to the reality of fraudulent wars, fraudulent tax cuts and fraudulent "justice," and get this crowd of thugs and imposters out.

Howard Romaine is the author of "Why a Black Man Should Run," in the September 27, 1971. issue of The Nation.

Howard M. Romaine, Attorney

Nashville, TN

Jul 29 2007 - 3:06pm

Web Letter

My first issue of The Nation arrived...with Bob Moser's marvelous story about reaching Democrats in red states! Marvelous. I have been preaching this for years...we (elitist liberals) cannot talk down to the people...we have to talk to them and with them. Moser has caught this perfectly.

I am so glad I've started getting The Nation again. We really can win in 2008!

Richard Calderhead

New York, NY

Jul 28 2007 - 10:59am

Web Letter

Dems certainly need to be focusing their campaign with more effort in the Southern states. If you look at election history, nearly all Democratic Presidents were either from the South (i.e., Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter) or they won two or more Southern states in the electoral college. Yet most Democrats seem to think than "Dixie" is a dirty word. They seem to be afraid to come here. I live in Nashville, a place where we always have a Democratic mayor and council, and where Democrats dominate in the polls. I have also lived in other "liberal" cities such as Louisville and Atlanta where a lot of Democratic support remains to go unnoticed. Not everyone down here is happy with the Republican party... I think it's time for Democratic candidates to show some appreciation, because Southern Dems are just as eager to give it back.

Rachel Hoover

Nashville, TN

Jul 25 2007 - 10:40pm

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