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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Destroying the Democratic Party from the ground up

by David Atkins

Greg Diamond, vice chair of a county Democratic Party in California, writes of the Grand Bargain:

As one of four Vice Chairs of a county Democratic Party serving over 3 million residents, I suppose that it will fall upon people like me to sell the $hit that President Obama has proposed to over half a million voters in my region of the county. I probably can't sell them on the notion that this $hit -- reducing the amount of money that recipients of Social Security will receive compared to its purchasing power -- is actually a good thing, but I will be asked to sell them, at least, on the idea that this $hit doesn't matter nearly as much as they might think it does, compared to the good things that President Obama has done.

It doesn't seem to be working. In fact, I don't think it's going to work at all. However big or small one can argue that it really is, this $hit is looming large in people's minds -- and the Republicans have already shown that they're going to jump on this $hit with both feet. Symbolically, it's not the size of the $hit that matters so much to voters, but the fact that it's there at all -- in a place where they never expected to see it, least of all from Democrats. This is the kind of $hit that people are going to remember -- the kind of $hit that can really bring us down in 2014.

I want to be a good Democrat, but I just don't think that I can sell this $hit to voters at all.
As a county Dem party chair and state executive board member, I wholeheartedly agree.

The California Democratic Party is a bastion of sanity in all this, and getting better. A couple of excellent progressive things happened at our convention this weekend so far, and I'll have a wrap of everything once it's over.

But Democratic clubs and county committees are where the rubber hits the road in many ways. We're the ones who have to interface with Democratic and progressive voters, and try to keep them engaged and aware of the political stakes.

How are we supposed to sell this? What am I supposed to tell an infrequent 70-year-old voter is the reason to get out to the polls and elect Democrats in 2014? That we're great on social issues? What script am I supposed to write for my phonebankers and precinct walkers? How am I supposed to sell this?

And what am I doing devoting so much free labor to the cause, if this is how it is repaid?

Like I said, I'm in California, which is an entirely different animal. I'm proud to be a California Democrat, and don't consider myself of the same New Democrat breed they concoct in D.C. I know that if we get universal healthcare and social insurance, it will come from the more progressive states, not from the national capital. I have hope that California can take the progressive lead.

Even so, it's tough. And God help the purple and red state and county Democrats who have to figure out some way of answering for all this to the voters.

At a certain point, there just won't be any foot soldiers left. Money can be a lot of things, but it can't buy the enthusiasm of grassroots supporters, or the love of voters on the fence.