This is a very timely op-ed over at CNN about how Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean’s “50 state strategy” plan was attacked by some of the the Democratic strategists and politicians – as was Obama’s decision to adapt it for his presidential campaign – as pie in the sky thinking, but how they were vindicated:
Dean’s insistence on having a Democratic Party that existed in the heartland, and not just California, New York and Massachusetts, was brilliant in that it made clear that the party recognized the rest of America…If Democrats are going to achieve success on the national level, they must have significant enthusiasm on the local level. It’s hard to get your supporters ginned up for a national campaign if they see no infrastructure, especially local get-out-the-vote operations.
Gee, does that sound familiar to anyone up here north of the border? If you’re in the Liberal party of Canada, it should. If it doesn’t, then you didn’t pay very good attention this past election campaign. There were other problems as well, which we all know about and that will get touched on in later posts, but in too many ridings, it appeared that GOTV was non-existent.
From a personal standpoint, I can tell you I was up in Guelph during the by-election before it got cancelled, and I can tell you that the team of Frank Valeriote had a very impressive ground-game, and enthused local volunteers. It was probably that ground-game that allowed him to resist the blue tide in SW Ontario on election night – but in far too many other ridings, it appears a lot of that was missing.
The article goes on to talk about Obama’s adoption of the 50 state strategy, and how this decision too was derided by the so-called strategists – but how he too – with the help of Dean – was correct in pursuing it:
When Obama announced that he was implementing a 50-state strategy, he was laughed at. But here we are with six days left in the campaign and the Republicans are having to spend precious dollars on ads in Montana, North Carolina, Virginia, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada, GOP locks in past elections…changing the attitude among the nation’s Democrats was also vital, and that’s where Dean played a role. The former governor of Vermont saw firsthand the sorry shape of the party when he ran for president in 2004. Republicans, led by Karl Rove, perfected their voter registration efforts, targeting voters down to the neighborhood, block and household. They knew that to win they needed a well-oiled machine that wasn’t activated every four years; it needed to be active all year round and in every election cycle. So Dean put the people and resources behind substantial voter efforts in a number of states, and they went about rebuilding a crippled party that had no central voter registration effort, an outdated database of supporters, a fundraising arm that heavily relied on trial attorneys and Hollywood types, and a message that changed depending on the day.
Again, does this sound and look familiar, Liberals? Again, if it doesn’t, I’m not sure what you were seeing, because it seems pretty similar to the state of the LPC right at the moment.
The editorial concludes with this line: Old pols always said that all politics is local, and the only way for a revitalized Democratic Party to expand its reach nationally is by re-branding the party on the home front. That takes time, money and leadership, and Howard Dean was willing to put his money where his mouth is.
This question should also be asked by the party members of the LPC: which Liberal leadership candidate and supporters will not only be dedicated to the reforms structurally and organizationally that are badly needed in the Liberal Party, but also be willing to put their money where their mouth is, as well as the dedication and persistence and courage to do so when some in the LPC hierarchy may resist this and also call it “pie in the sky” thinking?
Who will endorse and implement the Canadian version of Dean’s plan here? Whether you call it Liberal 308, or “10 + 3”, I believe (and I think many of our supporters believe) it needs to be done sooner rather then later. Grand vague statements of being for “renewal” are fine. Citing specifics for what type of renewal you want and how you go about it are better, and of course, actions speak louder then words.
(cross-posted at Scott’s Diatribes)