I’m sorry, maybe it’s just me. I am by nature a cheerful cynic. Some people say “the glass is half full”, and some people say “the glass is half empty”. I look at the glass and think, “Ewww, somebody’s been drinking from that thing”! I’m tired of moping. The election was 18 days ago, do you know what that means? We’re only 712 days away from the 2018 midterm election! And there’s a lot of work to do.
Granted, we all took a completely unexpected and totally undeserved knock in the nuts 18 days ago. I played hockey for more than 20 years, and you know what I learned? If you spend days on end mourning a tough loss, you’re somehow or other never ready for the next game, and you get your sorry ass kicked again. And you know what? You deserve it, you took your eye off of the prize.
I wasn’t kidding in the analogy in my title. Politics is not different than any other sport. The people who actually play it are passionate about it, and they’re professionals. So are the people who coach them. But guess what? So are the fans who live and die with their every game and support them. The term “hot stove league” is no casual throwaway line. Hardcore baseball fans would spend the bitter winter months, sitting around the nice, warm cast iron stove, dissect the last season and argue about what their team had to do to be better next season. Just what we’re doing now in other words.
But there’s one big difference. Sports fans are just that, they’re fans. They have no influence on their players, coaches or team management, they can only discuss and then watch. Politics is different that way, everybody gets a chance to have a say if they just grab the bull by the horns. And that’s exactly where we are right now.
If there’s one thing I truly love, it’s grassroots activism. I love to see the passion and motivation of people out to make a difference. There’s just one problem on our side. We wait too goddamn long to do it! Registering voters from May to November is great, but how many minds have you already lost over the last two years to the other side?
Ask yourself one question. How in the hell did the Republicans manage to become so successful at controlling the local, county and state levels of government, allowing them to consolidate and expand power. The answer is not all that complicated. They were linear, and laser focused. It looked for all the world like they were set to become a permanent minority, everybody kept saying that there there weren’t enough of them. But they actually talked to their supporters, listened to them and then created their talking points around them. Nevermind the fact that the talking points were bullshit, that the GOP never had any actual intention of following through on them, they made people think that they were listening to them, that the people had a voice. And they did it constantly. Many state and local party organs had their regular “town halls”, “fish fries”, and “cookouts”, all an opportunity to hammer their message home to the faithful. They gained that most necessary of elements, brand loyalty. Didn’t matter that they never followed through, there were always Democrats to blame for that, just elect more Republicans!
Sorry, but back to the sports analogy. College football plays from early October thru the Christmas holidays, with their championship game the week after New Years Day. But there is spring practice in April, followed by summer workouts, and training camp opens in mid August to get ready. The NHL is the same way. There is a summer camp, and training camp starts in the second week of September for an October 8th or so debut date. Certainly the players take time off to relax, and go on vacation with their families. But they’re mindful, overindulgence can make them fat and lazy, which could cost them a spot on the roster, and therein their paycheck. They practice and workout even during the off season to stay in fighting trim.
Waiting until May to start registering and motivating voters is kind of like showing up at training camp 30 lbs overweight! We need to get back to the basics. We need to get out there and talk to people. And I don’t mean just talk at them with our standard prattle, I mean talk to them, listen, understand them, and then address their concerns with our policies and programs. Find ways that tailor our responses directly to their concerns. We need to steal a page from the GOP. Get out there, listen to your friends and neighbors, engage them, and keep coming back. Talk directly to their worries and concerns, and provide them with viable solutions. Motivate them long before election day, establish trust. I was a Cub’s fan for 53 years before they grabbed the pot at the end of the rainbow, but they made all of us want to be for them, to support them and cheer them on. We as a party must regain that “magic in a bottle”.
Some of this falls on the DNC and the brand new incoming chair. The first problem they have to fix is empty slots. You can’t win a seat if you have no names on a ballot! They must institute a program to entice, cultivate, and support the new breed of progressive candidates, no excuses. And they must provide the resources for the state and county chairs to carry that out. But it’s not just all on the DNC.
The rest is up to all of us. Markos is extremely fond of pointing out that there are more of US than there are of THEM. So, let’s start proving that there are more of us, and start showing up, not just on election day, but all year round! If you’re tired of feeling sorry for yourself, and the current state of affairs, then do something to change it. I strongly suggest that you go to 90for90.org. They have an extensive list of both state and county DNC chairs for almost every state in the country. Get a phone number, give them a call, find out what you can do to help to turn this around. Hell, this early you might not even have to leave the house to knock on doors, some phone calls may well be all it takes to start getting the ball rolling.
Every year when I was growing up, my mother went over in mid January to open up and make a small deposit in a “Christmas Club” account at our local savings and loan, then she religiously chipped into it with Dad’s every paycheck. Christmas was always great at our house. Do you want 2018 and 2020 to be great? Five years from now do you want us to be able to start exorcising the demons of GOP gerrymandering from our national and state politics? Do you want to start taking control back and feeling better, both about ourselves, and about the country? Then start making those goddamn $20-30 deposits in the Christmas Club account right now!
Thanks as always for reading, you are ALL the wind beneath my wings!