There is a story in the June 15th Intercept by Jordan Schwartz that quotes U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders regarding the 2008 Obama For America (OFA) campaign, “ [The] ‘biggest mistake’ he made after running ‘one of the great campaigns in American history’ was saying to the legions of people who supported him, ‘Thank you very much for electing me, I’ll take it from here.’”
I was Chair of the Wahkiakum County Democratic Committee at the time and recall the OFA people. I noted back then that OFA was basically a new party. They even had their own logo. Myself, on the other hand, was schlepping for the Democratic Party. Our leadership was elected under a structure that is established in the Regulatory Code of Washington. The OFA people were political appointees.
It was apparent to me that this arrangement was yet another way to stifle the grassroots of the Democratic Party — which like the GOP is effectively a State Party.
Schwartz writes, “Obama’s campaign had 3,000 organizers who recruited thousands more local leaders, who then helped mobilize 1.5 million volunteers and 13.5 million contributors.” These folks did not volunteer for the Democratic party. I took this into consideration in 2009 when I chose to leave the party and become a political independent looking for a new home.
I recall the 1992 election that ushered in the Clinton / Gore era. There was a huge voter mobilization effort geared towards youth. It was through the group Rock the Vote. At that time, this was another case of Thank you very much for electing me, I’ll take it from here. The only way Democrats thought of engaging youth after that election was through the Motor Voter Bill which made it easier for people to register to vote. In 1994, youth stayed home in droves and the Gingrich congress swept into power.
There are shades of this with the 2010 election. Since there was no OFA on a scale of 2008. The Tea Party mobilization took power in state legislatures at the perfect time. It was perfect because these right-wingers won at the same time states were redistricting. As a result of our elite-centered election systems, the GOP will control the U.S. House and many state legislatures up to 2020—if not beyond.
So the lack of follow up after the 2008 election has cost Democrats dearly. That said, we cannot just wait around. Since most elections are skewed—by design—for one party or another, why not be disruptive and join an effort along the lines of the Open Source Party? The idea is to have local chapters get involved in elections.
There are three ways to do this—depending on what your state laws are. Local OSP groups can nominate and run candidates, fuse with other parties or endorse existing candidates. Just make a lot of noise and maybe along the way, you can get noticed. If this happens, present a legislative agenda. (Check out the Why Open Source Party link on the left for more.)
Instead of lining up behind high profile politicians who, like Don Giovanni, love you then leave you—let’s build political structures that endure.