My mother is a lifelong Republican. Why? Because shortly after I was born when she badly needed a job, a local Republican precinct worker (who later became Governor) helped her out and found her a job at the local five and dime store. And she was so grateful that the party had helped her that she rewarded them with lifelong loyalty. Knowing what needed to happen in the neighborhood and making sure it happened is the task precinct captains traditionally did.
But no longer. In the 12 years since I moved to St. Louis I have never been visited by anyone from the Democratic Party to ask if I want to be a part of the party, or whether I wanted to volunteer, or whether I needed any help with anything. Over the last few years I’ve asked around and no one else seems to have ever been contacted either. It was only a couple days ago that I discovered our township even has a Democratic organization. I thought the local Progressive groups that meet every month were all there was.
No wonder we lose elections when we seem to have virtually no party organization.
A couple months ago one of our local Progressive groups had Corey Dillon, the new full-time Executive Director for the party come by to tell us how things were. I was astounded to discover that before Howard Dean had instituted a “50 State Strategy” Missouri had no permanent party organization. The party came to life for each Governor’s race and went back to sleep in between times. Hmm… Some of us Progressives thought the Party was just ignoring us. We didn’t realize they weren’t there to listen…
But Howard Dean wanted Democrats to compete in every election, and as a result of his spending Party cash to do it, we now have some permanent staffers for the Missouri Democratic Party year round.
And the corporatist wing is pissed, because they don’t want the money to be spent on anything except their tired old, failed strategy of Targeting the Muddle of the Roaders and ignoring all those who are politically active.
In fact, that’s the problem with the current Democratic Party. Their entire “targeting” strategy is based on ignoring people. They ignore the Republican 40% instead of trying to win them over. They ignore the Democratic 40% instead of trying to keep them loyal. They then try to narrow down the 20% “swing voters” to try to find out which of them they can ignore. They even have a “Swing State” strategy that tells them they can ignore whole entire states and ignore every one living in them. And after deliberately ignoring almost all of us then they expect us to be there for them. And they wonder why they keep losing.
There is a solution, though it will require a huge amount of work: Restore the precinct system. The real thing, not a sham. More later…