Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Modest Proposal to Save the Democratic Party

Carolyn Kay of tells me she doesn't know who wrote the post below, it just came to her in an e-mail. I have googled for it and come up with nada -- but this stuff should be shouted from the housetops. Anonymous Chicagoan, whoever you are -- what a great idea!


Instead of spending $500 million dollars on TV commercials every 4 years, why doesn't the Democratic Party start using its money to open neighborhood offices that help people with day-to-day problems like getting their heat turned back on, or finding a lawyer, or getting something to eat? I'm not talking about political offices that open up a few months before an election and annoy people with a bunch of phone calls. I'm talking about permanent offices where people can get real help for real problems. Finding a doctor. Getting a tutor for their kids. A gym for kids to play ball in after school.

You know what you've got if you build something like this?

A recognizable brand, that's what you've got.

A trusted brand.

A political party that's known for rolling up its sleeves and getting its hands dirty and making a difference in people's lives. A political party that's not corrupt. A political party that's a palpable force - instead of simply another disposable consumer product being hawked on TV every few years.

True loyalty comes out of stuff like this, a loyalty that can't be swayed by glib 30 second entreaties. This is the politics of the real, not a reality show. When you stop and think about the system we have now, it's completely stupid: a bunch of new hairdo's comes along every 4 years with a bunch of focus-grouped "issues" and the media puts on a reality show that results in... nothing! Nothing but revenue for TV stations! And, of course, another big thumbs up for one of the two wings of the ruling party. After it's all over, the losing hairdo skulks off in infamy to grow a beard or write his memoirs or lobby for some corporation - and the status quo tightens its grip.

I'm sick of it.

We`re all sick of it.

Imagine a city street. Imagine an old storefront, refurbished and redecorated. Imagine a neon sign that says "Democratic Party Headquarters." Inside is a wireless internet cafe, bulletin boards, volunteers manning help desks. Maybe there's a cafeteria in there, maybe a health clinic, a child care center. Whatever it is, it's real people, together, helping each other, creating a community. Using the money they raise to make a real difference in the neighborhoods where they live. And giving people the tools for Democracy. Imagine hundreds of these places, all over the country, where people can meet and talk and plan and organize.

Hey, maybe it's my Chicago roots coming back. Ask Soros to help. Michael Moore. Barbra Streisand. Clooney. All the usual Hollywood honchos. Steve Jobs.

How about "Newman's Own Democracy Cafes," with good organic food and nutritious political information. "Ben and Kerry's." Whatever. Make the Democratic Party a grassroots movement. And make sure you open offices in rural areas. Bush policies hurt rural economies even more than they hurt cities. Thousands of people donated millions of dollars to get Kerry elected, and what did we get for our money? TV commercials. Air! Poof, it's gone! Why not ask people to donate to something lasting, that does real good, and has political clout as a result? I know I'd rather give money for this kind of real political action than the Theatre of the Absurd we have now. Sure, this smacks of old-fashioned machine politics. So what? What have we got now? Nothing but an advertising campaign with no product, just promises, promises, promises. It works for the corporations and the giant media conglomerates. But it's worthless for everybody else The creation of neighborhood Democratic Party Headquarters could be the tactic that finally evens the playing field with the Republican's use of churches.

Say what you will about right wing churches - but if one of their flock needs something to eat, they can at least usually get a hot meal. That's more than you can say for the great progressive party of the New Deal and the Great Society. When's the last time the Democratic Party ever fed anybody - let alone found them a job?

Sure, the wingnuts will call it demogoguery. They'll call it a return to machine politics. They'll say Democrats are buying votes. Good!

Let `em say it all they want! The point is, when you help people, they don't forget it. And with what is coming our way now, people are gonna be needing all the help they can get.

What do you think?


Blogger HotFlash said...

(transferred from Firedoglake) Hey HotFlash — you out there?

Caught your comment about the 501-type organization. It’s possible, but we’d have to do a 501(c)3, I think.

Ideally, a 527 each for state-local and a 527 for national-state are established in each county. They rent space from the 501, which may include use of other resources like computers and printers.

A 501(c)4 is set up for voter education; it can’t endorse a candidate, but that’s what the 527’s are for. It can support initiatives. The 501(c)4 handles issues like teaching folks how to become more effective activists, trains candidates in how to run effective and legal campaigns, trains poll workers on how to keep elections clean.

A 501(c)3 is the service vehicle that provides assistance to community members. It can’t endorse candidates either, but it can support initiatives that serve their clientele.

There, I think I laid out the structure. As little as 2, as many as 4 organizations required to fulfill the objectives of permanent Democratic bases on American soil. Heh.

November 09, 2006 7:25 PM  
Blogger HotFlash said...

I'm in Canada and all the 501 stuff is Greek to me, but I'll do some research and to figure out what all this means.

Obviously, I will also need to work with folks (ahem) actually in the US, although I hope to be doing something like this here in Canada, too. It's just too good an idea to not do it *everywhere*. Not only am I a dual citizen, I'm also a Gemini.

So, anybody in MI? Or anywhere?

November 09, 2006 7:30 PM  

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