YDATL Blog NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Blocking and tackling
Ummm, so I am supposed to blog about strategy, right? Well, here's a strategy: don't mess up your blog by trying to spell check on a browser with popup blocker turned on. Cause you'll lose everything you wrote. Which maybe was a sign anyway.
So let me start over! I had blogged into the wee hours last night about the Evan Bayh article in the paper yesterday. Yawn. No wonder the blog gods took it away. Instead let's talk more about the trial by fire that was 2004. That year, I guess it was mid to late November when I emerged from underneath the bed, I wrote some friends about my determination to work "smarter, not harder." I summed it up in a four-pronged strategy: PRIORITIZE, NETWORK, CELEBRATE, LEAPFROG.
PRIORITIZE: become crisply educated on a few key issues and make investments of your time and money wisely. NETWORK: stand up for what you believe in and find each other - all progressives separated by no more than three degrees. CELEBRATE: recognize and honor achievements. LEAPFROG: don't fight their battle, don't use their weapons - reframe all the questions.
So - my thinking on political strategy typically falls into this framework. I'll blog more about each of the prongs in months to come, but today what's on my mind is "network."
In the course of my work at the Capitol this session, a group of legislators will often be sitting in a meeting racking their brains about how to find the time and resources to accomplish some basic political blocking and tackling. They needed help on tasks such as: finding constituents in a specific house district to make phone calls to a committee chair, or getting help in all the major Georgia media markets on planning and executing a series of public hearings. It is my observation that the legislators often feel overwhelmed and undermanned. But it is also my observation that the Young Democrats and the county parties seem sometimes under-utilized. FEC rules notwithstanding, there are certainly many instances where the existing networks aren't engaging each other. To me, the obvious action item when faced with the question, "who the heck do we know in Representative so-and-so's district who can call him to request a vote on the bill in his committee" is "call the Young Democrats from that county." Or "call that county party." We would LOVE to help out, would love to feel that our actions are truly helpful.
So, what can we do to bring about this networked nirvana? Sounds good, but what do we DO? I see clear action items for Young Dems chapter presidents and membership chairs:
1) Get to know Democrats in your county delegation. If you don't have any, get to know the closest one you got. Send them a card. Invite them to all of your events. Bake them cookies. Go to see them. Tell them in every way you can think of that you exist and that you want to help them in any way you can.
2) Keep columns in your membership rosters for district - federal, state, and local offices. Ask members to look it up themselves when they join, or look it up for them if you want. Then you'll be ready when someone calls and needs help - you'll know exactly which people to engage. You need to know who can call Senator so-and-so who will have the authority of being a constituent.
These are easy things we can do to move the ball. Neither one would take very much effort at all and would be a fantastic project for that new person who wants to take on more and needs an important task delegated to them. Got someone in mind??