Now, you’ll see a lot of people on social media and the TV shouting to the heavens on what went wrong and what we can do about it, but just about 25 of us showed up in Missoula tonight, the overwhelming majority – I’d say 90% - the regular crowd that shows up each or month or whatever. Not an encouraging start.
Nonetheless, the self-flagellation must go on, and it did…though with five minutes of ‘spin’ first, or the accomplishments of Democrats both nationally and in Montana, if you will.
I just grabbed a sheet of paper before going in so I could write down my thoughts, and this is what I managed to put together before we really got started:
HQ: Signs, phones
Doors: Burnout, apathy
2016 = President
Apathy on our part
Federal/state divide (Montana has always historically led the nation, yet now the nation is leading us)
Now, DPQs are…well, I’ve already forgotten, but they’re something to do with gauging how likely a candidate is going to do in a certain area.
Yeah, not real sexy…but we talked about it for a good 10 minutes, like it’s some kind of Moneyball of politics (which maybe it is, but it doesn’t get people fired-up to vote).
I’m terrible with names and couldn’t tell you many people that were there, but most were local precinct captains, or the real get-out-the-voters. If you think of the Whip in Congress and the Legislature as the person that gathers the votes and finds the necessary votes for an issue, then the precinct captains are the people on the ground that find the votes for a candidate.
How do they do this? By taking the message of the party and using it to fire up the base, get the needed boots on the ground to hit the doors, and making those calls and stuffing those envelopes.
Some of these people there tonight have been doing this for twenty years, and in heavily and traditionally-Democratic areas, like Bonner and East Missoula. These are areas that national Democratic heavyweights like Jim Messina know well, and in his case, he would have known them from his time studying the local political scene while running Daniel Kemmis’s re-election bid in ’93.
So this is known, what this area is, and what should have happened. But what should have happened didn’t, and it sure the hell wasn’t from a lack of trying – Bill Geer’s and Dave Strohmaier’s campaigns attest to that.
One thing that was brought up tonight was how Republicans are allowed to act like children in a shopping mall that can’t get their way. They can break whatever toy they want if we won’t buy it, and we let them get away with it. Hell, we buy them a new toy.
When Republicans shut down the government and tell women to enjoy the paltry sums they make and then try to blame the problems they created on the Democrats…why the hell are we letting them get away with this?
One thing I heard tonight that made a lot of sense was a comment that the Obama Administration went into its shell this election. It’s no secret he’s got an adversarial relationship with the media, something that strikes me as odd – isn’t the media so liberally-biased and so controlled by the left that this would be a good thing?
People are tired of Democrats not standing up for themselves. People want year-long message campaigns, like doctors doing public service announcements informing people about their health. Well, let’s inform people about how sensible Democrats are and how idiotic, draconian, imbecilic, and just plain dumb Republicans are.
It really shouldn’t be so hard, and we’ve got the infrastructure in place to do that. We’ve got social media and we’ve got blogs and we’ve got friendly reporters. Hell, it’s so damn easy to manipulate the media into doing what we want, why isn’t it being done?
The Republicans coasted to victory. Maybe it’s that Democrats can’t figure out if they should run from Obama or run toward him. There are accomplishments, like lower unemployment and…well, I’m not sure what they are, and I haven’t really felt them myself, but they are there, damn it!
Again, there’s nothing much to get excited about. If we as a party could figure out some answers to get over this resource-extraction existence we’ve always had in this state, maybe it’d be a start. Because frankly, that divide between Democrats that support fossil fuels and those that don’t is going to rip this party apart at the state level.
How do you counteract that? I’m not sure, but I can’t help but think we need a unified message, and we need it now. The 2016 election cycle started last Wednesday and we desperately need that national message that then trickles down to the state and local areas.
I couldn’t help but think of the following image tonight:
Again, local is waiting on state which is waiting on national. And when I say waiting on national, I mean we’re tapping on a turtle’s shell and hoping they stick their head out soon so we can get some direction.
This is the wrong approach, and the numbers tell the tale. From the Williams/Williams fundraising dinner in May, the Missoula Democrats raised $19,738.87. The cost of that was $11,668.35, leaving us with a net gain of $8,070.52. Next, or at least over the course of the year, $7,800 was given to campaigns. That leaves just $270.52 out of that Williams Dinner.
There are a few other expenditures here and there, some more income, but let’s face it, is the one major cash-cow for the Missoula Democrats. And we’re giving $7,800 to campaigns? Campaigns need to be giving that money to us!
How many of you saw that image of John Lewis knocking on doors on Election Day? That’s great, but we need about 100 people doing that, and we need to be paying them. That starts on the local level.
How much money will Amanda Curtis and John Lewis have left in their campaigns? I’m not too worried about Curtis, but Lewis picked up just 515 more votes than Curtis, and he was running a full year before she was…or close enough. How do you explain that?
I see a devastating mismanagement of resources here, and I blame state and I blame national. If politics is local, why the fuck are you not putting your money where your mouth is?
Because I saw a lot of frustrated Democrats here in Missoula tonight, and I know I’ll see a lot fewer in 2016…because another cluster-fuck like 2014 and many of us will give up for good.