I think this diary has been brewing for a while. For whatever reason, feels like it’s time to let it fly. Maybe it’s the incessant drumbeat of Dems don’t have their act together, the constant back seat driving about how the DNC is inept, those Washington Dems can’t get their act together, the candidates for fill in the blank of a congressional or statewide office are not good enough and so forth.

My theory is that national is only as good as local. Throw a pepple in still water and watch the ripples. It’s not a charismatic leader at the national level that will take back the country to its principles, it’s hundreds of local leaders. I’ll offer proof below
Let me tell you a story of our county. We have 44,000 voters. I forget the exact split but the largest party are Unaffiliated, then Repubs, then Dems. For a long time R’s held all the offices in the county and the legislature. Gradually with population shifts and Dems moving to a beautiful area more Dems got elected but at best in national or state terms it’s a swing county. Gore won here by 260 votes.

Some of you have heard part of this story before but bear with. A small group of organized Dems became the local party officials. They raised money, got people to volunteer (Bush was a big help), did local phone banking, Voter ID, GOTV, and in 2004 Kerry won by 3,656 votes (far more than any 4 yr population shift). It wasn’t easy, it included a few people spending two years just getting a decent voting list by getting each town’s voter list and getting a phone book. But in the midst of a national let down we were euphoric. We had done grassroots campaigning and won. Won big.

What has happened since then? Well, last fall there was an anti-discrimination issue on the ballot. The right wing was committed to overturning legislation the Dems at the state level and the Dem Governor had signed. In the county a small group took responsibility and begged people to volunteer for the phone bank and it was a slog. Still they got most of the calling done, a good GOTV operation and we won 62% of the vote and arguably did a great job.

We then turned our focus on our state leg seats. We targeted two R seats and plan to hold our 4 D seats. In part because we have a credible county wide effort and can actually offer support to a candidate two really good candidates with a decent chance to win are now on the ballot. We could come out of this election with a 6-2 or 7-1 edge in the delegation. For the first time ever.

What difference will that make? Well, there’s only a 1-2 Dem vote edge in the legislature that’s why. The other thing is we are building strength, consistency, and know how. Maybe a future statewide or Congressional winner will come out of these ranks. One of the leg candidates is the youth director at the Y and he will have teens who know him volunteering for the first time.

Statewide, our county has made a name for itself in political circles. When we tell people where we are from, they think we know something. We do. We know that local organizing, local fundraising, local volunteers, a local office, local Voter ID, local GOTV make a difference.

There are something like 1753 counties in the country, whatever, it’s a number we can see. Some are large urban, some are small rural. The large urban ones have to be split into manageable population bites but it’s doable. It’s doable if people don’t get their egos in a tizzy and focus on what needs to be done to Save the Country. By winning locally, we will win nationally. And it can happen sooner than you think.

Now I’m going to say something about campaigns. Campaigns are about restoring democracy to the people but campaigns are not democratic. It’s nuts, it’s bolts and someone has to be in charge. There are only about 240 days left to November 2006. There’s only so much time. Think of campaigns as a military campaign and you begin to get the idea. The general is the campaign manager. What they say goes and that includes the candidate. The candidate can fire the mgr but outside of that they should just do their role and do it to the best of their ability.

How does that affect you and me? Pick a campaign now, volunteer, get hired as a staffer, run yourself, raise money, whatever. But do it, do it well and you’ll soon have no time for anything unless it has something to do with winning. When you see the blogs from the candidates, officeholders, campaign mgrs, staffers, etc doesn’t it get you going? We read them, let’s do them.

Finally, a word on the DNC, Dean and so forth. Who are these people? Why can’t they do everything (or sometimes anything) right? These people are for the most part people who probably worked for Dean, have slogged in the trenches, and are still doing the best they can (I hope). I’ve worked on two statewide campaigns and can say it’s near impossible to cover everything and do it well. We’re also Democrats and tend not to walk in lock step when it comes to national policy. So what? We can and probably will around a few key issues like the illegal war, the trashing of the nation, and health care.

In the meantime, I hope every one who takes the time to read my rant gets out and works locally. A leg candidate with a dozen good volunteers can win almost anywhere. Why not win?

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