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November 17, 2006

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Sara -- many thanks for this essential backstory, ludicrously ignored by our so-called leading political journalists (guys like Broder and Russert, having lived through it, know the story, but it's the real "inside baseball" they don't reveal).

I was solicited by both the DCCC and the DSCC for contributions -- I made it clear that a condition for fulfilling the pledge I made was unqualified support for the victor in the Connecticut U.S. Senate primary. The condition wasn't satisfied, of course, and your post helps make it even clearer as to why.

There is no "national" Democratic party, except for the de facto parliamentary Democratic party that is loyal to itself, having progressively detached itself from its roots. It's how a dyed-in-the-wool Connecticut politician like Joe Lieberman, protegé of Abe Ribicoff, biographer of John Bailey, elected to the State Senate from New Haven when the legendary Arthur Barbieri was still the Democratic machine boss, and state Attorney General, can turn himself into a stranger to his own party, beaten from one end of the state to the other except for his stronghold in Stamford and for the machine remnants in Bridgeport (aided by the unaccounted-for $387,000 in walking-around money).

The proof of the pudding, so obvious that practically nobody mentions it, is that our parliamentary Democratic party is so seriously out of touch that Al Gore can't carry his home state of Tennessee when he's running for President and John Edwards can't carry his home state of North Carolina when he's running for Vice President -- does anyone really think Lyndon Johnson would have been nominated for Vice President in 1960 if the Kennedys thought he wouldn't carry Texas?

It's also why a "one size fits all" ideological litmus test for the Democratic Party has never, and will never work, and generalizations from the particular are absurd. Of course Heath Shuler and Brad Ellsworth are more conservative than Chris Carney and Chris Murphy, just as western North Carolina and southern Indiana are much more conservative than northeastern Pennsylvania and central Connecticut. As unrealistic as it may be for progressives to think that conventionally progressive candidates can win in the Great Smokies and along the Wabash, so is it unrealistic for the chefs at Rahm & Chuck's to serve up the same menu everywhere in the country -- tempering the message probably cost Lois Murphy, for example, an eminently winnable seat.

We shouldn't be naive -- state party barons can be as bad as Washington barons, and until campaign finance is reformed (and pigs fly), we have to respect the ability of K Street to raise serious dough for the battles ahead. But the salutary message for Rahm, Chuck, et al. is that what is true in the policy realm is likewise true in the organizational and structural realm -- to refashion the Democratic party in the reflected image of the Republican party is to doom Democrats to the irrelevance that Karl Rove would like, and that the Democratic party with its grass roots motivated and mobilized, and with savvy power brokers making the Government work, is a force that sweeps Karl Rove's conjuring tricks aside with disdain.

Great, great post, thanks Sara.

Thanks for the post. I hope it gets a lot of reads. Have you cross-posted to Kos?

Ah. Arthur Barbieri. A name from the past I had ong forgotten. I remember watching his people hand out money at a poll on Willow Street in New Haven in 1968. Memories.

I'd say that the Dems did well this year because of these sorts of arguments, diversity v. the monolithic Repubs. The only person who looks bad in this is Carville, the best cure would be to see some more warming between Rahm and Dean.

Carvelle and Clinton go to Toronto during local elections. NDP who elected the mayor, gets confused between Liberal Democrats and New Democrats.

Now, it's Dean. Going to Ottawa for the Liberals. Liberal Democrat. So, why is Dean okay? He's considered 'radical,' but is the DNC, so why are Liberals upset? They are being shown for what they are-run by the US democratic party, which is worse than anything that can happen to a Canadian.

Thanks Sara,

I can give a little more distant or neutral viewpoint.

First I don't like Dean or Carville.

That said, it is pretty durn obvious that Dean has done the Democrats a great service since 2004 and maybe even before.
I would say more than any other Democrat with the exception of Bill Clinton..

Dean is not always smooth, but Carville is generarlly obnoxious.

What Dean has is unbridled enthusiasm, and desire, and a work ethic. He brings to the table an honesty of purpose.

There is always the old 20/20 hindsight thing where someone says, "well looking back maybe we should have ..."

It is also possible that there is some fear that Dean might get back into the candidate business.

Sara,

you might have missed my question earlier.

What/who are you calling "Unreconstructed Segregationists?"

One essential difference between Democrats and Republicans, I think, is that we actually conduct elections for Party Chair.

with all due respect, in BOTH parties the position of "party chair" is (for all intents and purposes) an "appointed" position when that party controls the White House, and an "elected" position when it doesn't control the White House.

Carville also has a vested interest in this fight. he is a campaign consultant who makes money taking a cut of media buys. Dean stresses grassroots and field. No money there for Carville. Carville has outlived his usefulness for Dem candidates and should be pastured. After all, is he really going to criticize his wife's employers very seriously?

What I am left wondering about is the substance of Carville's gripe. Did Dean leave a bundle of money sitting in the bank in the last few of weeks, when shoveling it into close races might have pushed several more of our candidates over the line?

If he did, that was a really big screw up, and has to be weighed against his successes in party building. But if there's some Hillary subtext going on here, I want to know about that, too.

I didn't know how bad the state parties were until Dean was campaigning for DNC Chair. I'm from Baltimore and NJ where the party is strong and there is a party machine we take for granted - and have to fight sometimes because it is 'the machine'.
So thanks for the additional info on organization.
I used to like Carville when he seemed populist but he is a hack and in bed with .....well I sure don't trust him.
I do trust Dean - would be pleased if he became a candidate again but he is surely creating a strong party. Happy Birthday, Howard.

Hesiod did a Kos diary yesterday in which he argued that Carville was acting on behalf of Hillary.

Appreciate your 11:41 Mimikatz, I had no idea about that angle.

Well, I didn't support Dean for President in 2004, I was one of the early petition signers for Wesley Clark. I too belong to one of the healthy Democratic Parties -- the MN DFL -- and I suspect because most of my adult experience is with such that I understand the consequences of states that allowed their parties to go into bankruptcy. Thus when Dean was recruited to run on a platform of rebuilding the party everywhere, I became very interested. He had discovered in two ways the problem -- many states where he ran in primaries had zilch in terms of a Democratic Party. For starters one can ask a very simple question -- who has custody of the lists of Democrats, and what do I have to do to access it? When you find there are no lists, and no custodian -- then you have to wonder if there is really a party. Dean also got hit with the Democratic version of Swift-boating in Iowa when he appeared to be front-runner, and at the time I doubt if he knew what hit him, and where it came from. We know now that it was private money from DC funneled in through Richard Gebhardt, but with the help of Vilsack's wife. A healthy party makes such back-room deals more difficult to pull off. The more wise observers you have, the less likely something like that will succeed. Anyhow, Dean's genius is perhaps not as an elected executive, it is more as an organizer, and thus with his plan, I think he was exactly what the DNC needed in late 2004.

Assuming we can elect a President in 2008, I would agree that a sitting President should have some influence over who heads the DNC. But that should be based on consultation with State Party Chairs who move things in the DNC. That didn't happen during the Clinton Years because the DNC was nearly morbid -- but if that can be changed the party will be the better for it. What happened this year as a result of Dean's efforts was a huge increase in live-wire races for State Legislative Seats and other down ballot positions. We picked up several hundred of these. Now if state parties sustain the effort we will be a long way toward the goal of empowering those state parties to take back power from the DSCC and the DCCC to "select" the candidates for federal office.

I certainly can illustrate. Paul Wellstone's race in 1990 was written off by the DSCC before it hardly started, and at least some in DC actively supported his republican opponent. It was only when the numbers moved in the last month of the campaign that some money moved into the race, and the normal Democratic funding organizations supposedly independent of the party were permitted to cut some checks.

In a sense, the same thing happened this year. The DCCC was not at all happy about 5th District's decision to endorse and then nominate an African American Muslim to perhaps the most progressive district seat in the whole country, on the grounds that we could elect him, keep him there for 20 years, and he would add diversity to the party. Not only could the convention nominate -- but he would be supported by the district and county elected officials, including all of the members of the Hennepin County legislative delegation who had worked with him in St. Paul. I don't know the whole story yet, but it appears there were serious derailing efforts out of DC -- but the decision was successful largely because the party is strong here and able to push back. The only way to get the DSCC and the DCCC to collaborate with local parties instead of acting as an authoritarian structure, is to be sufficently organized to exercise power when necessary. The prospect of this working is, I think, what motivates Carville and his crowd.

Jodi, you really need to do some serious reading in American Political History if you really don't know what an "unreconstructed segregationist" is. If you seriously want to know why the Democratic Party was dependent on the single party racist south between the Civil War (and even earlier) and more recent years -- you actually have to crack the books and study the subject. And one cannot possibly know anything about the contemporary Democratic Party without knowing the long history of this struggle to free the party from dependence on legal racism with all its institutional structures.

If you are serious about comprehending it, I'll furnish a reading list that will keep you busy for a couple of years.

Al Fubar: It is more complicated than Carville makes out. It depends on what you mean by funneling money to races. My feeling is that many of the close races we (probably) lost like CT-04, IL-06, PA-06, NM-01, OH-01, 02 and 15 would not have been helped by more money for ads. Dem reported on the total innundation of the airwaves in CT and I saw it firsthand in NM the week before the election. The only one that might have used that money was OH-02 and maybe 15. What lost those races IMHO was a combination of overly cautious candidates following the DCCC script, too many R's in the district, the last minute GOP robocalls and not quite enough field. Field has to be built up over a matter of weeks if not months, so money wouldn't have helped that much.

The races where the money would have helped were places like IL-10 and 11, WY-AL, NE-01 and 03, ID-01, WA-05, NY-25 and 29 and certainly NC-08. But those were never on the DCCC radar so it wasn't a matter of Dean withholding money from where the DCCC thought it should go. They actually lost most of the races in their initial Red-to-blue list, and abandoned races where their primary candidate lost, like KY-03 and CA-11.

Many of the races where the Dems won had good grassroots and opponents that were caught napping or inept. Races like CA-11 were won by the grassroots with only a last minute assist from the DCCC that made the margin 6% rather than 2%.

Besides, Dean's strategy is a longterm strategy; it shouldn't be confused with the challenge every race and really hit 100 races (spreading the field) that people like Chris Bowers at MyDD, Ruy Teixeira and yours truly pushed beginning last year. That was never the DCCC strategy, and they only expanded their board late in the game.

This piece may be the single most illuminating internet posting I have ever seen. Bravo. Thank you.

This explains things I have never understood before. If the state parties are so depleated, no wonder we've been on a slide. The flip side is, investing in party infrastructure is like compound interest, it builds on itself. If we keep building up the party we are going to grow from strength to strength. And it helps resolve the DC corruption issue because it places the states at forefront of party building and candidate selection. I can see why the DC insiders are so afraid, they will lose must of their control. Still it would be nice if they could adapt. Why not work with us? Give up your little DC kiddie pool to be part of the greater Democratic Party ocean.

Sara, Mimikatz, DeWitt Grey especially

Thank you for a highly informative article and thread.

If I wanted to find the status and structure of the Texas Democratic Party, can anyone tell me where I might find it? Same question for the Republican Party of Texas.

I have just realized that I understand how the primary and precinct and County caucusus and the State Convention are all held. I know little else about the party structure here. Since Texas is a bastion of unreconstructed segregationists, I know a bit about them also, and I am reasonably sure that that is a bit of the problem. The other problem is that two decades ago the Republican Xtian evangelistis found that if they sent about five people to a sizeable percentage of the precinct caususes, then got them elected delegates to the county caucus, then the county caucuses would be able to send enough delegates to state to totally control the state convention. It is the same system the Communists used in the USSR to maintain party control of the government. That system explains the horror story that is the Texas Republican Party Platform.

So how would I as an individual get information on the structure of the state parties here. Any ideas?

Nice methodical development of the story, Sara. After the Republican instaAssistance to Lieberman to stave off a Lamont win; and that combined with the mysterious temporary withdrawal of the fairly conservative Mark Warner from preExploratory nationwide campaigning after a year on the trail recently, I wonder if the Rove plan for this postHalftime multiPurpose hyperactive state we have witnessed in the past ten postelection days might include attempts at sowing more dissension among the Democrats' ranks, though that exercise would require extraordinary agility, given Democrats' innate propensity for a kind of cheerful chaos. The fragments I was attempting to juxtapose there were, well, if Lieberman now is to arbitrate some schemes in the Senate as a more reliable vote for the Republicans than Jeffords will be for the Democrats, perhaps, the Rovian plot might go, how about confusing the winnowing process during the next fourteen months among Democrats, reinventing MWarner as a demiliberal, even if only as the VicePresidential candidate on ticket2008. MWarner's illiberal policies with respect to jurisprudence are the polar opposite of Edwards', the latter himself far from progressive, widely. And taking the longview 2012, 2016, prospective MWarner ticket leading candidacies might advance the Republican strategy to keep the Democrats' drift more rightward than progressiveward; MW as crown prince; but he would be advanced in age by then, so perhaps the age span which we need to consider for Rove's tryouts for conservative Democrats needs to be a selection from the young generation of Democrat leaders. I like the idea of the young leading, but not to the rightSide of the political spectrum; by then, Rove will be oblivious, as well; but his legacy is likely in his mind now, as he, too, is looking at likely distancing from active party life after the administration ends in 2008. Maybe he enjoys clearing brush on TX ranches.
I voted for Dean, and donated. His organization grasped the utility of internet, and soon the Republicans emulated his approach. Dean has more longevity doing this; as Sara points out, it is a work in progress and is producing results. From my bailiwick view, Dean was fairly staid, and unjustly ridiculed when he exited the race; but ad hominems are part of the fabric of primary season and to be expected. Clark had some excellent hourlong interviews on PBS when it was an objective broadcast facility; mostly I cannot tolerate the specious wingnutia NPR-PBS intercalates with its journalism now; Pacifica is doing excellent reporting, for a nascent organization. But Clark was Way Right of exGovDean. Save for the strange four years around Gene McCarthy's national campaign, I have opted to vote Democrat. But our local committee controls the local slate, so it is like a politboro in that regard; I guess that is free world democracy, unseemly, even awful, but the best we have figured out how to sustain. Cranston was an interesting guy; maybe a bit understated and egregiously centrist, but had some fine progressive moments, and was eloquent. I have wondered often if PaulW's plane really had a mechanical problem; but that is past. The only recoup was Jeffords' bailing to limbo, saving the country of four years of CheneyFristian rule; though with the recent rerenomination of the likes of jedgeBoyle et al, likely Republicans are planning a nuclear future for the US Senate; kind of as an enabler for all the dozens of signing statements Addington has crafted on the president's behalf. Fortunately, our system seems to elicit greatness as a kind of prerequisite for progressing into leadership. It is kind of extraordinary to think some officials in our times get discovered with a freezer full of greenbacks, or that, as DEllsberg asserted in a 2005 interview transcribed by lukery recently that a recent holder of the post Boehner is to have in the 110th congress house accepted a valise of lucre. Though when I worked in the lobbyist world as an invisible background person, not a lobbyist, I learned political processes often are subterfuge related, and permeated with maxCash; indeed, being more progressive than the upper echelon officers in our organizations, sometimes I had the assignment to connect with the liberal legislators' campaigns; it felt incongruous, given that the famous individuals usually responded only when contacted by other prominent public figures; but at the infrastructure level my progressive voice was useful for one of the industries which we served by contacting liberal legislators, as the latter would find my approach disarmingly friendly; say, we would like to send your campaign a cool thousand dollars, ok; we really like your style of politics. It was fun. I resisted doing this job, and eventually let it evanesce. While Dean is pursuing invocation of the roots of the Democratic Party, maybe he will stir some independent voices and encourage a new vitality and vision; this party has snoozed for much of the past four decades.

``so depleated''

So, Northern observer, you think that they have been ironed flat, huh?

I find it hard to believe that Carville is speaking for Hillary. What possible interest does she have in the 50-state strategy one way or the other? She has demonstrated that she can raise all the money she needs and then some.

Further, it seems to me that she can only benefit from strengthening the party at the state level. If she decides to run for president, she will be able to bring in the bucks needed for TV buys, but she will benefit from troops on the ground during the campaign.

I'd be interested in knowing, too, how effective the local parties were in this election. In one of the Washington Post blogs, a commenter indicated that the locals had crappy (and short) lists for calling and that this list was supposedly a product of the 50-state project. This was one guy in one location, so, if anyone has details, please share.

al Fubar -- keep in mind that based on the track record of elections 2000, 2002, 2004 that any and all of us could anticipate many legal contests over tight races or voting irregularities. Defending these could cost a pretty penny and would require a healthy reserve.

Blue in VA -- I understood that the data for phonebanking varied from state to state, depending on whether the state party in question was a "subscriber" to the DNC database. The IT industry has had strong praise for the DNC's upgrade of its datawarehouse; I have to wonder what the real disconnects are.

Blue, VA, if it were true, I would expect both Bill and Hillary to bash Carville. Neither has.

Hillary likes the 50-state infrastructure that Dean is rebuilding, she just doesn't want Dean in charge of it. I suspect she wants to mimic Lieberman4Lieberman, posture to the netroots that she is bluer than she is. Easiest way to do that is to attack Dean.

From MyDD"In close Races, the Netroots and Local Dems often stood Alone

[...]

If Carville wants to complain about money being left n the table, I didn't see him jumping on board with the netroots fueled Use It or Lose It campaign, designed to drive more money into districts just like the seven Hotline listed above. I also don't see him criticizing Hillary Clinton despite the huge amount of money she left on the table and the three narrow losses we suffered in my homeland, Western New York.

[...]

More from MyDD

James Carville's Consultant Con

by Chris Bowers, Wed Nov 15, 2006 at 04:29:25 PM EST
There are two main reasons why James Carville does not like Howard Dean. The first is that Howard Dean does not trash other Democrats, and Carville prefers Democrats who throw their own party under the bus. The second is that he is a political consultant, and as such many of his friends have gotten rich off of commissions from television advertisements. As far as he is concerned, all donations to all Democratic committees exist so that he and his friends can get richer. Since Howard Dean is spending money on field organizers and grants to state parties, his friends tend to not get rich from the money the DNC raised. This is abhorrent to Carville, since Democratic Party committees exist to make him and his friends rich.

However, there is a serious problem with many of the television advertisements that Democrats run. That is why on MyDD we set up Adwatch in order to monitor if the money we raised for campaigns was being spent effectively. Looking at the final results from the fifteen House races where the DCCC spent its money, one has to wonder if we did spend our money as effectively as we could have:

* 1. PA-06: Lost
* 2. NM-01: Losing
* 3. CT-05: win, but credited the netroots
* 4. OH-15: Losing
* 5. IL-06: Lost
* 6. IN-08: Win
* 7. CA-50: Lost
* 8. PA-07: Win, but raised $1M online
* 9. AZ-05: Win
* 10. KY-04: Lost
* 11. WA-08: Lost
* 12. PA-08: Win, but credited the netroots
* 13. OH-18: Win, but defeated DCCC candidate in primary
* 14. FL-22: Win
* 15. CT-04: Loss

The numbers I used for this ranking come from when there was still one week to go in the election, but they still tell a disturbing tale (see source information here). Why did the DCCC lose, or is in the process of losing, eight of its top fifteen targets? Why have only six of the fifteen candidates the DCCC originally backed in these races win? Over 85% of the DCCC's independent expenditures in these races came in the form of television ads. Will the consultants in charge of thee ads be held accountable for their sub-500 record? Will other consulting firms be tested out in the future in order to see if they can produce better results? Keep in mind that I am not criticizing the DCCC for choosing these districts, because this is not a bad top fifteen-target list at all. Also, in the seats we did win, it was usually by a very narrow margin, and so this amount of money may have been necessary. However, we should have done better in this list than we did, and I do not think it takes much to argue that the main reason for our failure rests with ineffective television advertising.

Yet still, after producing a sub-.500 record int eh top fifteen House targets, Carville has the gall to tell the press that he and his other consultant buddies deserved even more money so that they could have run even more ineffective advertisements. I write this not as someone looking to attack the DCCC, but instead as someone looking to get my money's worth. The Use It Or Lose It campaign helped direct more than $2.3M into DCCC coffers for the final election push. The MyDD / Dailykos / Swing state Project Act Blue page directed more than $1.5M into Democratic coffers since February. I want to make sure that the money I donated, my community donated, and that we all helped transfer to the DCCC was spent wisely. Looking at our performance in the top fifteen targets, I have some serious doubts that it was.

Carville can try and continue his consulting con that more money to the DCCC would have automatically translated into more victories for Democrats in the House, but looking at our performance in the top fifteen targets, I have to say that is hardly a guarantee. What is a guarantee is that it would have made his rich consulting buddies a lot more money. We practically swept every close race in the Senate, so I have no beef with their consultants. However, when it comes to the House, I want answers. Did we use the right consultants? What other options to we have? What commissions are they taking from these ads? How can we work to reduce the size of those commissions if they are being done on a percentage basis? To what extent are other forms of independent expenditures besides advertising on broadcast advertising more or less effective? How much money does James Carville personally stand to gain from the extra money he wanted channeled to close House races?

These are questions that many people, including the media and the DCCC, need to start asking James Carville. We need answers to these questions. Just because we won does not mean we can't do better in the future. Figuring out what happened to DCCC advertising in our most heavily targeted races is a big area where we can start improving.

Shazam!

I concur with Rick B.: hadn't even been thinking about this; had assumed the state structure was ready for Prime Time.

Sara, more links please, or--if no one has done this level of quick precis--more posts on this aspect of party strength, por favour. I promise to slurp them up--to at least a moderate level of wonkiness.



John, first on Wellstone's tragic plane crash. About two years ago the NTSB report came out, finding a number of faults, but not mechanical error. They weighted toward Pilot Error on several scores, and the NTSB report was accepted as evidence in the several lawsuits filed, and finally settled out of court. Among the problems -- the pilot was a felon and the Air Charter did not know this. (It would have impacted insurance) and both pilot and co-pilot had insufficent rest between trips. Both had falsified logs regarding flight hours. There were other things too. The final conclusion was no one fault, but a kind of perfect storm of faults. I think the NTSB report is online. Now I still produce nice drippy tears when thinking of that awful event -- but I have never really been tempted by conspiracy theory. One reason is because who Wellstone's Lawyers were. Sam Kaplan is one of the top injury trial attorneys in the country, he did the MGM Los Vegas Hotel Fire case and the Republic of India against Union Carbide (Bopal) case. I trust if there were any "conspiracy" he would have gone on the warpath. Small planes crash all the time -- at least once a week there must be a local story about one or another crash.

One of the best things coming out of Dean's efforts is what investing in local and state party infrastructure does in terms of recruiting good candidates. When a party is in bankruptcy or on the verge, good quality candidates are hard to convince to give up a good job or career and run. If you are an almost partner in a law firm, why would you seek the endorsement for lets say, state legislature, from an organization that is morbid? On the other hand, at least in the states where we picked up seats this time, looking at an opening is a whole different matter, simply because the party seems to be looking good. There is technical assistance for the campaign, experienced campaign managers are available, help in fund raising -- things that make it at least a 50-50 proposition. You can't imagine how important this is if you want to attract talented and high quality candidates, who might with some experience move to higher offices. If all you have on offer is a platform for a guarenteed concession speech -- you won't get the talent.

As to Lieberman, I think he is backed into a corner in the Democratic caucus. If you look at prospects for 2008, I think it is highly probable that the Democrats will protect their incumbants in the Senate, and take perhaps six more seats. Why would Lieberman want to join a likely even smaller minority? The boy wants to be a Chair not a minority back bencher. Yes he remains in the Senate for another six years, but the new stars are named Tester and Webb -- Lieberman is certainly no longer a star.

My guess on VA former Governer Warner is that he made a choice last summer -- go after Warner's Senate Seat when he retires and forget the long shot for the Presidency. I think he saw Webb getting a little traction, and realized it was do-able.

Of course Rove and his crowd will try to throw weggies and distract the Democrats. I actually don't think they will succeed as they have in the past. The Democrats have a huge agenda and they can now always change the subject back to the next item (say minimum wage), and attract the public interest back to the public business. Things have changed since the early Rovian days. I do think Nancy Pelosi needs to build a sharp press operation however that can do swift responses. I don't want total message control such as the Republicans have, but Pelosi does need to teach a little intelligent discipline.

As to the next Dem Presidential Candidate -- I don't think much is at all clear yet. I see problems for Hillary in all of the first four states. In fact I see problems for anyone who has not deconstructed an affirmative vote for the war resolution in 2002 by this point. Which leads me to the candidate I am now looking at -- Bill Richardson of NM. He was running for Governor in the fall of 2002, won, won again this year with 68% of the vote, has done well. Served as a Legislator, the UN Ambassador, Sec of Energy, and special envoy to N. Korea for Clinton. I think that is the right mix of experience, but he avoided the Iraq vote. I am not supporting him, I just find him someone to consider and watch.

As to the Texas Democratic Party -- well I know very little. I suppose they have a web-site with a link to their constitution and by-laws. I did note that the Dallas Democrats seemed to have cleaned up in this election, getting down into the judges and all. Dean apparently put some good field staff there about a year ago, and they executed a far reaching plan. Maybe that is the place to look for futher plans. Texas Dem's have to pick up a little more than ten points to elect state-wide, and rebuilding the old party will not work as nearly 50% of the electorate is now Hispanic, and African Americans have never had a strong position in the Texas Party except in minority majority districts. They all have to figure how to work together with Liberals and Progressives. I think this is as much social and cultural as organizational.

Thank you, Sara, this is so important and informative! While I knew, per mimikatz, that Carville was interested enough that one doesn't have to assume he's acting as HRC's paw—we shall see, no doubt—bringing to the fore this story of the Party's near strangulation in the South raises even more questions in my mind about Carville. I find it hard to believe that he was unaware of these facts, coming up in Lousiana as he did.

But James Carville and his motivations are a trivial aspect of the story Sara has revealed here. On the one hand, one can appreciate the clear thinking that Dean's leadership has brought to the Democratic Party process in recognizing a potential disaster and finding a way to deal with it. (When Karl Rove made his prognostications that the Democratic Party would soon cease to exist, was he counting on this institutional rot continuing unaddressed for a few more years?) And on the other hand, because the remedy has created the possibility of a real discourse in a part of the country that effectively has lacked one for a while, it could become possible for political action to become a part of the South's unhitching itself from some of the inimical aspects of its history. (I say this as a member of an ex-Southern double family with no relative within two removes on either side even resettling there.)

John, I agree that the financial arrangements between campaigns and consultants are a huge issue -- as are the percentage deals on placement of advertising. But you know, this is very easy to solve, and perfectly within the capacity of Blog-World to accomplish.

What we need is a party rule. The DNC could do it at its next meeting, and I would imagine that given Carville's attack on Dean, it might be an idea whose time has come.

What would such a rule look like? Well it probably would involve creating model contracts, and contract principles that avoid all sorts of "incentives" and basicly put technical assistance to a campaign on a straight salary. It would probably divorce lobby shops from campaign consulting, and it might even require advertising audits with the results of those audits available to prospective candidates shopping for campaign help. What applies to advertising also applies to internal polling. Personally, I would like to see polling internal to the DNC and the candidate, because in house polling might be much cheaper, though you would need competition to keep it honest. I certainly think State Parties need to eventually invest in polling operations to be used for state and legislative races.

But all this could be done with a campaign to get the DNC to adopt rules against the current commission system. You know if Blog-World could influence the election of Dean to head the DNC they certainly could create a huge demand for new party rules on this. I don't know the exact process, but would imagine you need a resolution petition signed by the right number of members at a DNC meeting to create a commission to author a rule with a draft and report due at the next meeting.

Yea, I know party rules sound dull, but democracy is about lots and lots of dull details.

By the way, I am not against decent pay for technical election workers -- but I also don't think anyone should get super-rich doing it.

Fabulous work, Sara.

In general, I have long thought that the crucial first step in politics/government is to get people talking about the actual problem. Never mind figuring out the solution up front -- just make the topic a subject of conversation.

This is harder than it looks in politics, because for all the palaver, there is a very strong code of Omerta. Talk about what you see, and you are out.

Another problem is that often even the insiders -- with a vast knowledge of gossip -- seldom have a very sophistocated perspective on the overall situation. Same for journalists.

Anyway, your articulate and succinct presentation was a masterful and convincing portrayal of the nut for party building as campaign organization. I don't remember any detail in what you wrote that I disagree with.

But I think the problem goes a little farther. We are limited by our imagination/cultural attitudes about what a party should be.

Campaigns, yes. But also governing.

Partly, that is because at the moment the party plays essentially no role in governing. In my view, that limits our democracy.

Just as you describe outsisders who want to own the fund raising/polling/field work industries, the elected officials and staff in DC like to own the legislative process.

There is little visibility into the deliberations, and scant opportunity to participate in broad decision making. Insiders shape the choices, the context that the choice must be made in, and the timing of the choices. Info is held close, because info is control.

As I have ranted on before, our parties could easily be a notice and comment organization (posting proposed bills to the internet, followed by discussion, changes, debate and concensus building.

Such an adjunct to the legislative process would bring sunlight to the process, make it harder for special interests to steal the game, and give the general public a voice. Plus, news would be different. There would be many spinoff effects.

But it would undermine the insider world of DC.

And it seems foreign to us now.

It won't happen soon. But it should happen. It could.

Maybe the place to start would be with a sort of pilot project with the party providing a robust web page(s) on a fairly mundane topic, like the budget.

Sara,

I'm always here, every day (even w/o Marcy on Plame), but I have to say this has been the most informative (yes, even exciting) post (and comments) I've read in a long time.

Many thanks!

BG

:)

Thanks Sara,

but a two year program would overwhelm me. My feel is that "Unreconstructed Segregationists" are segregationists. It seems a quaint way to say it, but I don't know when it came about.

What a great post and what a great thread. I was talking to my cousin this week. She lives in southwestern Virginia (Blacksburg) and she was planning a charm coup against the local Democratic Party. She says that for years it's been controlled by an internally retired man who is so disorganized, yet so possessive, that he wouldn't let people use lists to call unless he was actually in the office, and he was hardly ever in the office, even in the lead up to the election.

My cousin's situation reminds me of some of the unions I covered in New York in the eighties -- old white men kept control of the union and did everything they could to resist organizing women and minorities. These guys preferred to see the union wither and die rather than allow it to begin to look not like them.

Anyone who's been in one of these internal power struggles knows how draining and distasteful they are. But sometimes you just have to do it. Channelling money to a moribund party controlled by a few incompetents is a bad idea. Somehow these people need to be eased out or, where possible, helped if they want help.


Brilliant, thanks! I knew some of this but not the whole story. This really is invaluable information.

Kaleidescope -- my family is also from SW Virginia in part -- the seam between Grayson and Carroll Counties and some parts of Wythe. If you know the old Shot Tower near Austinville, well some of my ancestors built that thing. And I am darn glad that someone is trying to move the Democratic Party forward in that area. Back in the 60's when I was lobbying hard for LBJ's Great Society Programs, one of my cousins by marriage took me around in the hollows to see the families it would benefit. I mean like food stamps. He was a beneficiary of the New Deal -- he got Ag College, and then demo farm status, and had one of the most productive VA farms as a result. But he got drafted, and sat under German Guns on the front line at Salerno for 35 days, and it made him a bit nuts. Died Young, but LBJ made him a county poverty administrator of some sort, and as a result he knew about how hungry some folk were. He showed me around the hunger and poverty in those counties, up in the hollars. He understood I was an advocate, and he wanted me to see what needed advocating.

That instinct is still there I believe if we comprehend how to release it into public view. And yes, part of it is getting the party free to be part of the advocacy.

I have another cousin who is the son of the youngest in my SW VA family, not born there, who just retired last year from the Department of Education as research director of a division. He has a U of Michigan PH
D and he just spent a month organizing for Sherrod Brown in our hometown, Akron Ohio. The paperboy, boy scout and soap box derby guy who used to do West Market Street routes returned to do politics. He succeeded, but he comprehends what went wrong in Ohio Politics. But another cousin who is fairly well connected, and won emmies for the Julia Childs Show and the Leonard Bernstein shows says, well he went to Akron to knock on doors. Well Yes, that is necessary.

What went wrong in Ohio was big time labor trying to hold on to power when they had lost the base. Akron does not make Tires any longer. Lorain and Youngstown no longer make steel. But the Ohio Democratic Party up into the 1980's assumed that Labor strength, and when it went away they had little left. But they kept the ritual going. But now Ohio has to import former boy scouts and paper boys who went on to other things to come back and knock doors and organize campaigns.

Of course we need schools and classes to teach the technique and the methods to the local voters so they can do it themselves. That's the next stage.

Jodi, I am surprised you waved off an offer of a directed readings course that even at a State University would be worth 4-5 thousand dollars in fees and tuition. And yea, the book bill would be at least a thousand. I suppose you are just intellectually a bit lazy.

:(

Sara,

I work 70+ hours a week.

Have been on vacation though for about a week, with my mom at grandmoms.

This weekend I will be catching up.

But anyway, I wouldn't mislead you about the reading. Not enough time.

Just got into politics mainly because of the WAR, and my brothers and father's involvement, though only one of them is in jeopardy now.

Did give $2,000 to various people.

What we need is a party rule. The DNC could do it at its next meeting, and I would imagine that given Carville's attack on Dean, it might be an idea whose time has come.

What would such a rule look like? Well it probably would involve creating model contracts, and contract principles that avoid all sorts of "incentives" and basically put technical assistance to a campaign on a straight salary. It would probably divorce lobby shops from campaign consulting, and it might even require advertising audits with the results of those audits available to prospective candidates shopping for campaign help. What applies to advertising also applies to internal polling.

Now that is really getting down to it.  If there is anything that local parties and campaigns need help with it is in dealing with these sorts of complex deals. 

According to Crashing the Gates the DNCC has long put strings on its money that pushed people hard toward certain consultants and agencies. It seems to me that in the future that influence should be used to provide some sort of audited track record of potential consultants as well as the sort of standard contracts you suggest.

Sara,

This is a great post and thread.

A long reading list is out of the question for me (alas, too many books, too little time). But I'd love to see your top 5, and I would take the time to read those.

Wow! This is why the blogger world Rawks!! I realize that in my state the dem party is all but dead. On a state level is key. thank you so much for this well developed angle. This is so important.

Thanks Sara,

Great Thread.

Let me say that as a DNC blogger from day one, I watched the 2004 election bring in Red State bloggers, CRYING over no help, no resources, NO Dem offices nor supplies to help them! I understand the value of the 50-State long term strategy, and many of these same people took part in 2006 by actually help organize and run committees and offices.

Howard took out a $4 million loan in the last weeks of the election period, and gave it to specific candidates in close races who needed the extra boost. (If you have not donated to DNC in honor of Howard Dean's 58 Birthday on 11/17th, this would be a good time, to help pay off that loan)

I have read books (Minority Party a good one), and other articles on the DLC, and how they started. This group of Democrats, mainly from the South, were sick of New England Liberals getting nominated for office, plus they decided after Barry Goldberg a move to the Center was necessary, so they started throwing away some civil rights, went against minimum wage increases, became Pro Business, and lately want to cut back on Abortion and Gay rights.

I personally find this group of so-called Centrist Democrats,(Like Lieberman), a disgrace to the Roots of the Democratic Party. Trying to find a middle ground in order to grab votes. Willing to let Progressive ideals go.

I am a JFK Liberal, and proud of it:

"What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then … we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

- John F. Kennedy, September 14, 1960

Jodi: Just get a basic US History text. The South was controlled by whites who practiced slavery. After the Civil War ended in 1865 came an effort by the North to change the South, known as "Reconstruction." Essentially, the South was treated like a conquered country, in light of its having taken up arms against the North and lost.

People known as "carpetbaggers" came to the South to fill the power vacuum and vacuum up some loot for themselves. This went on until 1876 and the disputed Hayes-Tilden election. By that time the Republicans had made their alliance with big business (especially the railroads) and corruption was practised on a grand scale. The Dems were (still) Jasksonian populists. The Dems had won the house in 1874, and probably won the presidency in 1876, but the election went to the House of Representatives and the carpetbagger governments in South Carolina and Louisiana (the only ones left at that point) cast their votes for Hayes and he became President. But Reconstruction was basically dead, and the South went back to ruling itself. Southern whites maintained complete power in the South, disenfranchising African Americans and practising segregation (Jim Crow laws were approved by the Supreme Court in 1896). Change did not begin to come until the mid 1950's (school desegregation)and mid 1960's (segregation of privately owned restaurants, public accommodations etc outlawed); Voting Rights Act), and in some places was very grudging as whites tried to hold onto power and privilege.

So "unreconstructed segregationist" recalls both Reconstruction and segregation, and means someone who grew up in the segregated South and has not really acknowledged it as morally and legally wrong.

Jodi, white supremacy was legal in the U.S. until the Civil Rights legislation that passed in the 60's. I invite you to learn about WEB Dubois and Booker T. Washington, think, Malcolm X, and Dr King.

We're all broken up about the loss of habeas corpus. African Americans haven't had it for most of their history in North America. Lynching was a terrorist technique to get around habeas corpus, among other things. I'd invite you to read about Ida Wells, successor to Frederick Douglass.
Here's a wiki link @lynching, but here's a warning, because it contains some graphic photos. Relatively speaking, however, these photos are tame compared to what is available in the historical recordhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynching

IMO, the Scottsbourogh boys is must reading,
http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scottsboro/scottsb.htm
it puts a whole new light on the Duke LaCrosse team.

Hard to understand segregation without an understanding of the Chain gang

Buck O'Neil just passed away, a Negro League manager from the KC Monarchs. When he was groing up in Florida, the 1920's, there were only four high schools in the entire state of Florida that would admit non-whites of either gender.

I'd also invite you to look at the Rosewood neighboorhood in Tulsa in 1921

Once you get a feel for these things, you gain a better appreciation for the raw, balls to the wall, courage it took for a single, African American, woman to refuse to give up her bus seat in Montgomery AL in 1955 to a European American.

Well somehow the blog credited my post (70+) answering Sara, to Sara? I don't know what happened. I swear that I had both hands on the keyboard.

:)

Anyway, thanks for the history lessons, all.

Last night Richard Dreyfuss was on Bill Maher. He was pretty pompous but he gave a rousing speech about the importance of civic lessons. He talked about when and why they went away. I realize today, that Sara's post speaks directly to this issue. Many Americans do not know or understand the tools of democracy. He made the point that if we do not teach it we will lose it. There were 7 points that he said civics lessons accomplish. Black and white thinking needs to be attacked from a state level, an education level and a mental health level.

What do you all think about reinstating civics lessons so that the students of today will make more effective choices. He talked about how these democratic ideas are being distorted by a segment of the population who seeks to gain if we do not practice effective democracy.

Did anyone else see it?? It really made me think, as did this blog.

Excellent idea, but I would not call it Civics. Instead, I would borrow the Political Science 101 term, American Government and Politics, and teach it rather universally in about the 10th grade. (I would want to get the drop-outs before they drop out.)

What went wrong with Civics was it essentially was taught as a course in plumbing. The texts featured graphics about how a bill became a law, or how a case moved through the courts, or how the electorial college functioned, but there was very little humanity in it. And as we know there is a huge amount of human personality and human ideas in politics. Any revival needs to take this kind of approach. Another flaw in earlier Civics courses was that they became hostage to anti-communist movements. In the 50's we had to memorize things like the ten reasons why Marx was wrong (without ever reading any Marx) -- and they threw in a little anti-Hitler stuff just to spice it up. By the end of the 60's that approach was a dead end, and the whole requirement was killed off. It was always assumed that by turning History, Civics, Geography and Sociology into Social Science it would still be taught, but all these fields suffered from the "merger."

When I was teaching, I devised a test that I used at the beginning of each quarter, more to help me understand the base knowledge of my students. I found, for instance among Freshmen and Sophmores, only about half could distinguish between the First and Second World War. (I was teaching 20th Century Political and social movement History.) Given the two names, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, the question of who came first was answered accurately by slightly less than half of my students. It is extremely discouraging, particularly because these kinds of questions are so elementary. Particularly when you are teaching in college, and you want to be a little provocative in the way you lead a class -- when you find you essentially have to do first grade stuff, it is hard. I doubt if there would be a whole lot of resistance to establishing requirements and standards -- though you would still have the battle of Lynn Cheney against 99% of the American History Profession. You also have the problem of High School teacher proficency. We still have all too many unprepared Football Coaches drafted to teach History.

Jodi--Another kind of entertaining way to learn US History is through the historical novels of Gore Vidal: Burr, Lincoln, 1876, Empire, Hollywood, Washington, DC and The Golden Age. They go from the beginning of the US after the Revolution to the post WWII period, commbining real and imaginary characters. I read most of them and they were very entertaining as well as informative.

Sara,

In a comment above, you write:
"Dean also got hit with the Democratic version of Swift-boating in Iowa when he appeared to be front-runner, and at the time I doubt if he knew what hit him, and where it came from. We know now that it was private money from DC funneled in through Richard Gebhardt, but with the help of Vilsack's wife. A healthy party makes such back-room deals more difficult to pull off."

Could you describe what you think happened to Dean's campaign in Iowa? Whow as the source of the private money? And what was that money spent on that damaged Dean's campaign?

Thanks.

jwp, re: tracking bills, this dKos diary had some intriguing suggestions that seemed quite do-able, technologically, though of course getting Congress to actually implement them would be the kicker - but we should try.

Sara, I would go even farther than you in teaching government & politics. Forget 10th grade; that's already too late, imo. I want it taught every single year, from 1st grade on up. 4th grade would incorporate a year-long practicum in student government. Grades 7 through 12 would include increasingly sophisticated analyses of the Constitution, electoral processes, political history, voting issues, civil rights, etc. All students, at some point before graduating, would complete a week-long, or longer, internship at the local, county, state, or federal level.

Yes, I know; I might as well wish for global warming to spontaneously reverse itself. My father was a high school government teacher, so I tend to get a little exercised about our current levels of civic illiteracy.

"Could you describe what you think happened to Dean's campaign in Iowa? Whow as the source of the private money? And what was that money spent on that damaged Dean's campaign?"

Apparently decisions were taken in DC by a variety of people who for different reasons did not want an outsider (outside DC) to take the nomination at the point when Dean's poll numbers went way up in mid November, 2003. It would be one thing for Dean to come in at the bottom of the first tier, quite another for him to "win" the caucus. This included Congress persons as well as Senators not involved in caucus or primary battles, but it also included some from Labor, K-Street connected folk, Big check democratic funders, DLC types. They didn't all support someone else, the only agreement was not Dean. Thus the money to Gebhardt to run the negative ads against Dean -- ads way beyond Gebhardt's actual fund raising ability. Gebhardt knew he wasn't getting traction, but he allowed his campaign to be used as a stop Dean vehicle. If you remember, Governor Vilsack did not endorse. However the Political organizing brains of that couple are the property of Mrs. Vilsack, and her effort was based on the relationship she had with long term caucus goers and of course her access to lists, that network, etc. What she did was not expensive -- it was classic organization below the radar. It involved yes, selecting Kerry as the desired candidate -- and getting quiet commitments to attend caucus, and join a Kerry sub-caucus. Much of Gebhardt's support was thus shifted to Kerry. It also involved positioning Edwards as the Liberal/progressive alternative to Dean, helped along by Des Moines Register endorsements, some Labor endorsements and all.

A number of Minnesota DFL'ers helped out on this (which is why I've heard some stories) by going to Iowa to phone bank in the weeks before the caucus. Regular caucus goers were pushed toward Kerry and/or Edwards -- away from Dean and Gephardt.

Part of Dean's problems was his campaign's lack of experience with the caucus system. Too many of their supporters (Iowans) had never caucused before, found the rules strange, and thus had problems turning numbers into delegates. Trippi organized for a primary, and a caucus is not a primary. Too many outsiders (orange hats) took the visable lead, with some resentment from Iowans -- and Mrs. Vilsack's efforts very much exploited this sensibility. All of it worked to decrease Dean's strength in the critical period between New Years and Caucus night. I don't think Dean's people fully understood that all the pressures were coordinated, and this was largely because he had too few Iowa experienced Caucus experts close to the top of the campaign, who could have read the signs of what was happening.

There are many lessons to learn from what transpired that could easily apply in 2008. If we have too many candidates center left and they don't have a common strategy, it could easily happen again. The proper strategy to follow in a Caucus system is to agree among essentially like minded candidates sub-caucuses to collapse into one before the count finishes so as to maximize a position and not a personality. But when passions run high for one candidate it is hard to teach the utility of such a strategy.

In the aftermath of the Carville v Dean pissing contest, this post is spot on. It explains plenty. Thanks.

I agree with Leslie in CA about starting the American Government curriculum well before high school, based partly on my own elementary school experience.

Back in the Pleistocene, we had exposure to the facts of local (Chicago), state, and federal government mostly as part of the history curricula every year from about fourth grade on. By the end of elementary school, we'd had to memorize substantial parts of the Declaration and the entire preamble to the Constitution, and also pass tests on the content of the state and federal Constitutions. I can't speak for others whom I haven't talked to in years, but for me this teaching had the interesting effect that failures of the nation to live up to the ideals of those documents stood out in bold relief.

My two other observations are that (1) kids are quite capable of understanding much of that material from early grades, but (2) they are distractable enough by high school—including being distractable by fashionable attitudes of cynicism and the like—that high school's probably too late to impress a large proportion of students with the content.

I really like the idea of having them do some kind of internship, too.

Sara, don't underestimate the effect of Dean on voters. I saw him in a small room in 2002 once at a fundraiser in NH for another candidate and most people in that room found him abrasive. A couple of people loved him (sound familiar?) It's not just your backroom story. He didn't know how do deal with the press, to cultivate them, to manipulate them. Well, Gore didn't either, and Kerry was only somewhat better. I work in public relations, so I like to think my opinion is definitive on this front (who doesn't?)

And the truth about Warner, from Jerome Armstrong and a friend that I know, is that he didn't want to give up 10 years of his life right now. Young kids, old parents, he's got everything he wants, and why give up your family? A loss for all of us, in my opinion.

My appreciation to Sara who began this useful discussion.

Dean also introduced the idea of putting field offices in every Congressional District, not just in the State Capitol. Off years, the staff will do organization, election seasons they will coordinate all activity in each district.

I'm in a Western state. The party did a dreadful job supporting the constituional contests and field in general. Huge delays in beginning a field effort, Some coordination in the last (very) few weeks when people had been looking for ways to campaign for months. No direction from the state party to the county central committees. There were a very few people around who I understood to be hired by the DNC. Does this imply anything about the relationship between the state party and the DNC? Does it suggest anything re what we might be doing between now and '08?

PS: I found you through a link from DKos

Essential read. Thanks Sara.

I am going to start an additional thread here on the "What to Do" side of this all -- this thing is now a little too long.

Sara

Interesting background piece, thank you.

My only objection is that while it's certainly true that, structurally, the DNC is a creature of the state parties, the piece rather overlooks the real-world fact that the DNC's constituency is a lot broader than that (as it pretty much has to be if the DNC is going to be an effective instrument for the Party), and includes, at its largest extent, all Democrats, including even idiots and assholes like James Carville. While it's true that it's the state parties who elect the head of the DNC, they don't exist in a vaccuum, and are subject to the same kind of spin and propaganda and persuasion that we all are subjected to. If Carville's stupid trial balloon had generated a lot of anti-Dean fervor among Democrats (which it didn't, as far as I can tell), that could well have caused problems for Dean whether or not Carville has any real actual say in who the head of the DNC should be. That is, after all, how guys like Carville get things done, through manipulation and suggestion, not through any direct power.

I am brand spankin' new to this blog, so hello to all.

Just a few observations about this thread.

First, the Democrats I know in Texas--unless they are really, really into party business---never, ever see anyone (or the work of) the DNC. In fact, during the 2004 Kerry campaign, Kerry barely came to Texas, and NEVER came to Dallas in the last weeks of the campaign! People begged and begged to have him counter Bush in his old "hometown." But no, nothing, no time. They just kept sending emails and mailers asking for money.

Many people were disgusted by it. 21 million Texans were ignored in exchange for the little state of Ohio--sorry, Ohio. YES, Yes, we all know about the electoral college and all that. STILL! To be ignored by the DNC hurt us locally! Dallas was going "blue," but lack of national energy robbed us.

So, the Dallas County Dems had a big look in the mirror. They got a new leader, wonderful Darlene Ewing, and things began to happen. But then, many of us noticed that on the national side of the house, specifically, the DSCC, they did not see the value in Dallas County. Last year, Senators Obama, Reid and Biden came to town. A huge rally was scheduled. When talk arose on how to advertise it, the DSCC rep wanted to treat the event with stealth? WHAT? It was as if they were AFRAID to let people know that Democrats were coming to town.

Does anyone else see that from the DSCC or the DNC?
Dammit, if you want to win, you gotta act like you CAN win!

To claim our recent victories on something Dean MAY have done is off base. Dallas County went "blue" because of the locals who worked their asses off, even while knowing that the present Governor, Rick Perry (GOP), might still win. One more thing, not all Dems are the same. Many of us us in Texas are quite conservative. There is a real, palpable dislike for Northerners--Dean, anybody--telling us what we ought to think. We are a border state. We are a HUGE state, and that means we have a hugely diverse population and geography to consider. We are in the heart of the Bible Belt, too, so we have to battle them and their hateful messages as well.

Speaking of Northerners, Democrats were big here after the Civil War because the GOP was Lincoln's Party. Anything that countered him, his Army or his legacy was popular. ("Vote like you shot!" was the slogan.)Yes, a legacy of racism still exists. But I warn you--as someone old enough to remember the Civil Rights movement, be careful throwing stones. We could speak of "machines' and Big Labor's hold on certain states up north.

I am a teacher, so let me tell you about "Civics." It is not all taught by failed coaches, thank you very much. Most times, Civics, now called "Government," is a one semester course, so any lengthy lessons aren't going to happen if you have to cover national, state and local governments.

Also, the Civil Rights movement down here was not taught in the classroom, but on TV, in the churches, and on the streets. If the Democrats want to get a future generation of people, they need to work NOW. The GOP ropes them in at churches and related events. Do local Democratic organizations you know really reach out to teenagers who aren't voting in the immediate future? Do they offer tutorials on standardized tests at local libraries? Do Dems who have businesses of their own hire 15-16 yr olds?

Finally, the typical Democrat who turns on the evening news wants to see local and national Democrats out there, every day, countering the lies and the distortions. We don't give a rat's ass if Carville upset Dean. We care that nobody ever asks the question, "If the war is so essential to our safety, why do none of the younger Bush's or Cheney's fight in it?" Nobody asks if they love their kids so much, why they allow a debt to be run up that could cripple this country like it was 1929. As my 81 yr old mother said, "Will they please grow a pair of balls and DO something, say something!"

I like effen lifestyle. Work hard, party hard - vip all the way to a-list nightclub

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