Saturday, November 08, 2014

I want to blame the GOP, but the problem was within

The GOP had a lot of advantages this election. Voter intensity, gerrymandering, voter suppression efforts, Koch money, and being able to control all the levers of power in the state government. Yet they are not the reason we lost.

Candidate after candidate told me they received little if any support from the local or state Dem party. There was hardly any GOTV. There was some phonebanking, but mostly from the Crist campaign. I could find no volunteer efforts for canvassing. There was no listening to the activists about crafting any kind of message. We should have hit the FL GOP hard on their policies against Latinos, the environment, the disabled, the Veterans, and middle class families, but there was none of that. I don't even know what their message was--I truly think they didn't have one.

I recall when a young activist took over the Seminole County Democrats in the 2000s--we knocked on doors, registered voters, and then organized a fleet to drive people on election day. She made a difference and was one of the grassroots leaders that made victory possible in 2006 and 2008. This year I didn't see any opportunities like that. The GOP and the Koch group, FL AFP, swarmed neighborhoods like mine. According to the my local party's website, the only volunteer opportunities were helping the community--a noble goal but kinda misses the boat in an election year. There were no canvassing efforts, and a lady even contacted me, mistakenly thinking I was a Seminole County Dem official, and demanded to know where her lawn sign was before telling me not to bother.

I worked with an activist this year to hold our OWN event/fundraiser for Dem candidates across the state. No help from any local party, and the FL Dems even refused to announce it on their website. Eight candidates showed from across the state and some online. Crist had promised he would stop by but one of his very young "schedulers" called right before the speeches to say he couldn't come. He regretted it when he found out the turnout was great and we had more Veterans, voters, and candidates than the place he went to. WE also found out his running mate was right next door doing a failed campaign stop at the "Villages". Seriously--who the hell were you trying to talk to there?

The leader of the national party, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, from my own state, is frankly the worst leader we've ever had. Dean fired up supporters and had a successful 50 state strategy, with the revelation that we can't win national elections with fucking the coastal states and Illinois. With Debbie WS, we went right back to that mindset. She supported the "run from Obama" strategy, outright refused to go after the Veteran vote, and didn't offer help to her own party candidates. She even attacked medical marijuana, which had a 90% approval at the beginning of the year. I expect to fight--but not my own party.

Activists have to take control of the county parties. Change has to come from within. If that doesn't work, we need to organize for ourselves. Otherwise, a state with 500,000 more Democrats will forever be an entirely controlled GOP state.


  1. Regarding GOTV: You'll remember I was not able to get to that event you had because I'd already committed to work for the Crist campaign in my area. After months of working for them I can't say it was a satisfactory experience. All the people were nice enough, but organization was only marginally competent. There were days at a time when I didn't hear from anyone, and I got used to calling and asking, "What have you got for me to do?" (It was not always that way, just sometimes.)

    I think there are also some fundamental flaws in how GOTV is pursued, but I'll save that for a post of my own.

  2. I feel you're pain, but not sure the anger is warranted.
    I'm from SC and we suffer much from not having much along the lines of GOTV,
    but from what I see, not always a "Party" problem.
    While I did a mailing in Sept to about 150 homes and walked most of my precinct to connect with about 120 doors - and talked to a person at about half of them -
    I was a rarity - and I felt my numbers in my mostly Republican precinct showed that it had been worked.
    Our county (Dorchester SC) did some mailing - and even had an office - but ran into funding problems and couldn't do much more.
    From my view - it comes down more to people - meaning - not enough.
    If someone says to me "The Democrats should do....." - my question to them is:
    "Why don't you?".
    Because the Democratic party is them and us.
    So many are willing to give us that advise - but not get off their ass and do it.
    Problem is, we're all volunteers in this, and in the end, everyone does what they are willing to do.
    Like I said, I walked and knocked - but I refuse to make phone calls.
    Anyway - our task is not always to fault others, but better to try and encourage more people to be involved. And I don't know as we improve our chances with heavily negative criticism of our fellow volunteers.
    Better to encourage all to do better and also encourage others to come join.
    When we have that mass, we can also put more pressure on the Dem candidates to be Dems instead of Republican-Lite.
    Anyway, feel your pain.
    Clayton Seufert, N. Charleston, SC