Friday, May 29, 2009

State Party Caucuses

I'm reading the minutes of the WSDCC Executive Board, and this caught my attention:

Page 5, Line 20:

20 O. Dwight Pelz disagrees with the resolution’s statement that caucuses

21 are a good way to get individuals involved. Outreach should take

22 place through the local parties. State Party organizations should be

23 helping with the governance of the Democratic Party in Washington

24 State.

I can see what he is saying, but in my experience it just doesn't work that way. People can get engaged by the party in several ways, including both candidates and issues. In my case, I walked in to see what it was like, and then spent 6 months fighting cancer. I came back with a vengeance, and the intention of pushing health care reform as hard and as far as I could. The 46th already had the right platform plank. Heck, the state party has the right platform plank, not that anyone with real power in Olympia or Washington DC cares.

And that's the problem. I read the platform, and I watch the news. Our elected officials don't seem to care about our platform, at least not after election day. We don't see most of them working specifically to enact our platform planks. And that means they either don't understand our positions on the issues when they are not in front of a microphone, or it doesn't matter to them and they just want to push their ideas. If any individual candidate comes out with the perfect solution to any problem, that's great! Let's get that solution into the platform.

So the only thing that issues-based activists can do is to organize. Which means building coalitions between legislative districts, and between counties. The ONLY place to do that is at the state party level. That's why I worked to put (and keep) the Progressive Caucus together, fighting as hard as I could over the last few years to make it mean something to people beyond the state committee members. There are plenty of health care advocacy organizations out there, and they're not all doing what they need to do which is to work within the party to help identify and elect candidates that will actually fix the problem. If they are invited to work within the party, they'll be so much more successful. But if all of their outreach efforts are limited to the local party organizations, they're sunk.

Just like our platform planks.

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