Kshama Sawant 2 | March for $15 on March 15 - Seattle. Socia. | Flickr1024 ├-- 690 - 234k - jpg
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As a 20-Year Precinct Committee-person on Vashon, along with being the editor of the District Newsletter, chair of the Vashon Democrats, and member of both the County and State Democratic Committees, I am here to tell you that the DNC and the State Democratic Committee has little or no control over the precinct caucuses.
Unlike an election, where the entire process is controlled by the state parties, a caucus is controlled by the local PC. An activist can gain the support and votes of his/her neighbors by door-belling, having the caucus at their home rather than a group of precincts meeting at the local school - and proselytizing the entire community.
I was first elected in '72 - My precinct was the only one of 16 on the island to support McGovern. That gave us 2 delegates at both the State and County conventions. By 1980, with a lot of work and writing, Vashon was solidly Democratic [14 of 16 precincts] and left of the County and State party-line.
PCs control the caucuses - which is why the State Party prefers the big group method of caucusing. That allows the 'important people' to control the discussion. Individual PCs can manipulate [influence] the vote by being effective speakers and explaining things to their neighbors based on their own views.
Those of you who are truly interested in forming a new party, or subverting one of the existing ones, need to take some basic lessons in community organizing. If you are fortunate enough to live live in a caucus state, it can be accomplished by attending the caucus in 2018. The off-year is a bonus, as few people show up. Then start running for PC in the next election. This usually only requires door-belling your precinct for a good candidate already on the ballot, and explaining that you, personally, need a vote also. If you have a sample ballot, show them your name way down in the fine print where it is easily missed.
Once you are elected, the hard part starts. Attend the district monthly meetings. Volunteer for any thing you have the time and skill to do well. Newsletters are usually poorly written, so that is a good place to start - and it gives you control of the district voice. Run for a district party office, as there are usually more districts than counties. Try to get elected as the district rep to the party's county council. They might have an opening on the county newsletter too:)
This is where personal talents and abilities come in. A leader has to learn how to work a room, avoid drinking too much, agree to disagree if you are talking to a big-wig, and keep volunteering! I still introduce myself to strangers by sticking out my hand and saying "I'm Carol Campbell - I didn't catch your name..." Always with a big smile. That way they know who you are, and if you forget their name, just blame your lousy memory.
I was Chair of the County Platform Committee by 1984, and Co-Chair of the State Platform Committee in 1994. I also was one of the few national delegates for Dukakis in 1988 who was elected without the support of either the Dukakis campaign people or the state chair.
National delegates are elected at the district caucuses in Washington. I did bumper-stickers; they are perfect on a Corgi, and I always had a Corgi at a meeting of any kind. I still have a few buttons hanging around. and I made posters. The other elected delegates were nominated, and campaigned for, by whatever very important person was backing them. I got elected by running an effective campaign for the job.
Obviously, it is possible to do a good job of re-orienting a state Democratic party. For the most part, they are run by jaded pros who are wined and dined by the national party functionaries and can become vulnerable to being replaced.
But then the whole job starts over on the national level. If it took me 20 years to acquire some power in the biggest, wealthiest, county in Washington, I cannot imagine what it must take in states like California or New York. That is why I think the same effort poured into a 3rd party, like the Socialist Alternative, which is making big gains around the country,
would be more effective.
Kashama Sawant is becoming more important on the City Council in Seattle, not less. Her outspoken language and public persona attract a lot of people. Like Tulsi, she is a natural for the job. Tulsi would do well to consider the socialist alternative to both the Greens and the Dems. It looks like the SA may elect a City Council member in Minneapolis this week too. Ginger Jensen is running against the establishment and has garnered the support of the big Unions and the indy press...
This is my take on How to Win Friends and Influence People on the local level. Perhaps women have a knack for this type of organizing because we've been delegated to the kitchens and typing pools of the powerful. We know how they manage it, but lack the money and finishing-school touch of so many national politicians.
Shame they don't teach this stuff in school - but they no longer teach history, civics, or ethical behavior either. The last thing the puppeteers want are the "inmates running the prisons"...