Wringing your hands and complaining? How about another approach?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How many phone calls, e-mails, fliers, and other communications have Democrats received letting us know that THIS election is one of the most important in our political lives? That if we don’t vote/give money/make phone calls/knock on doors then how will we be able to live with ourselves tomorrow when civilization as we know it comes crashing down (again)?

Today’s election in MA is just the most recent example of a party who seems to lurch from crisis to crisis rather than focusing on winning elections. Is anyone else as tired of it as I am?

We can’t control the American voter. (We wouldn’t want to.) We can’t control Republicans or their message. We can’t control anyone but ourselves. So here are a few very basic suggestions about how we Democrats might stop worrying about political bombs going off and start remembering what we love about politics in the first place.

1) There are no “easy” elections. Howard Dean was right when he said that we needed a 50 state strategy. Obama was right when he ran a primary letting voters know that a vote cast in bright red Wyoming was just as important as one cast in true blue Vermont. We need to campaign everywhere, in every election.

2) We need good candidates. Recruiting and preparing good candidates should be one of our ongoing and top priorities. Always. Not just when the election is six months away. Also, public service isn’t a reward for supporting the party but something that must be earned. No one is next in line.

3) We need a message. We need something to smile about. I’m not opposed to attacking (I enjoy a great take down as much as anyone) but try this: try saying two sentences (any two sentences) one where you are frowning and one where you are smiling. There’s a difference. Voters can tell if you’re smiling or not, even through a phone call.

4) We need YOU! The Tea Party, like the religious right movement before them, has one thing right: they are asking their followers to be precinct captains and get involved in local politics, because this will result in big returns on every level. Dems need to take heed of this. There are some very blue precincts right here in Northern Virginia that have no one managing them; there are many other purple and red ones throughout the Commonwealth. There’s a saying that 10% of the people do 90% of the work. Be part of the 10%.

5) Lighten up! Have some fun! Encourage the 10% by thanking them for volunteering. If someone does a good job, let them know you noticed. Don’t get rattled: we’re going to make mistakes, and we can learn from them. Learn to laugh in the face of adversity. Laugh at yourself.