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We Just Graduated!

Politics operates at such different levels -- simultaneously.
It's truly amazing it works at all.

Here we are, less than a week after the Presidential Election, and everything is rosy in America. The Dow is up, Halliburton stock is up, and the President has a mandate. What could be better? NOT!

We are 55 Million citizens - voters - together with 100+ Million more who did not vote - effectively shut out of the national dialogue. The "winners" have declared a mandate and "damn the torpedos." You say you want a voice? Forget it. The electorate has spoken. Your time to speak is over. You don't like it? Then "off with your head". The image is engraven on the American consciousness since Nicholas Berg.

What are we to do? some ask. The fact is, we're already doing it! Our organizational and training efforts leading up to the 2004 Election were not for naught. The election effort helped us to hone our skills, to give us perspective, on what worked, what could have been done better, what never to try again. We now all have a collective understanding of the process and have begun to internalize the organizational requirements of the effort for "next time." Next time, many of us realize, is now.

Groups from around the country are coming together to discuss what has been learned and what we need to do moving forward. At the least, we can work in our neighborhoods and workplaces -- discussing the future; we have begun, now in day 3, the process of initiating dialogue with those whom we did not agree with, those who did not express their opinions and thoughts earlier, those who remained undecided until the bitter end then voted for a second Bush term. We need to understand them, their needs, their aspirations, their fears, their goals and aspirations, and provide them hope, solutions and empowerment. These are the people who will be most affected by the next four years. These are the people we need to make sure are represented in the mainstream and grassroots dialogue in the months and years to come; these are the people we need to bring together; these are the people we need to win. 70% of the citizens of America did NOT vote for this second term presidency. If we, as a party, as individuals, or as grassroots affinity groupings, can open ourselves to LISTENING to those we engage, and promoting our progressive values within the context of our listener's own worlds, lives and realities, we can begin to take the necessary first steps to winning with significantly wider margins than we have seen in the past few elections.

The good thing is that we know how to do this. We have learned what it takes to organize at the local, state and national levels. Some of us understand how to work as grassroots volunteers. Others how to work as party representatives. Those who started with Dean are not as green as in the Summer of 2003.

On November 2, 2004, we graduated.


Posted by Jessica Falker on November 5, 2004 at 06:38 PM | Permalink


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Thanks for your encouraging blog post. You are very inspiring. I am going to take this and post to our Eagle County Democrats blog for all to see. You sum up exactly where we are in our area. Sandra helped us develop a gotv plan and we had dozens of volunteers to work at the precinct level. It worked in our county. We swept all but one race on our local ballot! Colorado won back the state house & senate. The Salazar brothers were elected. We have two Dem commissioners in Eagle that will work together! This is true of many parts of the mountain communities in Colorado that more often than not vote bright red. It is encouraging. In fact, Sandra had a hand in many of our winning mountain counties!
Thank you Ralph and Sandra.
Debbie Marquez, DNC Committeewoman, Colorado and Co-Chair, Eagle County Democratic Party

Posted by: DNC Debbie | Nov 6, 2004 10:46:50 AM

My message the other day was very brief and but to the point. We're all very stressed about the election results, and need to regain our strength and vision for the future. I realize that there's a lot more people out there listening than responding. I find that sad in so many ways. If we're going to survive the next 30+ years we need to communicate and expand our energy to include as many people as possible. I don't really wish to follow the suggestion of Anne DiFranco 's "To the Teeth," and take all my friends to Canada and die in peace.....

Posted by: Bob | Nov 6, 2004 8:21:39 PM

Thank you for your words of wisdom, Ralph. You are right, those of us that joined the Dean campaign summer of 03 are not green anymore. We have learned a lot this year, and I intend to use that knowledge to make sure our Country does not take a step back for every step gained.

Here in Massachusetts we are going to have quite a fight to get the incumbent Repub governor (Mitt Romney) out of office; despite the fact that he spent so much time campaigning for Bush.

Congrads, Sandra! I'd love to hear what tactics you felt were most useful (best bang for the buck), whether they be conventional or unconventional.

I've had a couple people tell me they are becoming Independents after being life-long Dems. I am going to wait to see how they change the leadership of the DNC. I'd like to see Howard Dean take over....any thoughts?

Posted by: Charlene | Nov 8, 2004 10:02:19 AM

Haven't seen anybody step up to bat yet and take the Democratic leadership in hand. I do think that one person, such as Dean, won't be enough to forge a new direction. There has to be many "Deans" all working on a common agenda. And I'm sure there's many lessons to learn from Colorado.


Posted by: Bob | Nov 8, 2004 11:01:03 AM

Keith Olbermann of Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC was broke the silence in the mainstream news last night when he covered voter fraud allegations. You can read his initial 11/7/04 blog regarding it (the material of which he then used on the 11/8/04 8 PM show) at: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6368819/#041107a

Tell the rest of the mainstream media that this is news that America should hear about. Marshall Stern suggests that you call CNN at (404) 827-1700 and ask that they cover the story.

Rapid Response suggests that you email a number of media outlets. Remember to keep centered in your email--we are concerned about protecting a basic American right; a person must feel that their vote counts. In other words, don't take a partisan stand on this and don't rant.

All you have to do is ask if they will be covering this story--mention that you appreciated what Keith Olbermann had to say.

Here is a contact list but for maximum effect send each one individually.

Replace -at- with @.)

Scarborough: joe -at- msn.com
Matthews: hardball -at- msnbc.com
Wolf Blitzer: wolf -at- cnn.com
Aaron Brown: aaron.brown -at- turner.com
Nightline: nightline -at- abc.com
20/20: 2020 -at- abc.com
George Stephanopoulis: thisweek -at- abc.com
Dan Rather: evening -at- cbsnews.com
Face the Nation: ftn -at- cbsnews.com
Crossfire: crossfire -at- cnn.com
CNN Saturday Night Anchor: catherine.callaway -at- turner.com
Jeff Greenfield: jeff.greenfield -at- cnn.com
Robert Novak: robert.novak -at- turner.com
Bill Shneider: bill.schneider -at- turner.com
Lou Dobbs: lou.dobbs -at- turner.com
Candy Crowley: candy.crowley -at- turner.com
Judy Woodruff: deirdre.walsh -at- turner.com
NPR's Morning: morning -at- npr.org
Dateline: dateline -at- nbc.com
Today: today -at- nbc.com
Matt Lauer: matt.lauer -at- nbc.com
Russert: world -at- msnbc.com

Stories to read:
Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked
by Thom Hartmann

Senior Judiciary Committee Democrats seek GAO investigation of voting irregularities November 5, 2004 www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ny08_nadler/GAOJud110504.html

Worse Than 2000: Tuesday's Electoral Disaster
By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

Bob Fitrakis
None dare call it voter suppression and fraud
November 7, 2004


Posted by: Charlene | Nov 9, 2004 4:50:27 PM

At last night's DFA Meetup on the Northshore of Massachusetts, there was much discussion of whether we should try and become like the Republicans.

Since I never think that the "ends justifies the means," I don't think using the Republicans playbook or becoming Republican-lite is an option. I don't see how we can recruit Dems to organize if our tactics don't mirror our ideals. I know my heart wouldn't be in it if I was told to pretend to be something that I'm not.

That said, I know that we can do somethings smarter and I do believe that we all have to stop belittling people for their vulnerability and lack of higher education.

Supporting groups like the DFA Meetups and promoting these groups across the country will allow us to do more community-based activities and get to know people outside of our circles. Working towards common good within their communities is the way to win them over, i.e. Dean Corps. I hear that churches do this type of work all the time; they build a sense of community and trust. This is what we need.

For further consideration, there are a couple of good articles on AlterNet today that address after the election challenges.

Dancing in the Dark: http://www.alternet.org/election04/20469/

Imagine a Party Line of Awe and Wonder:

Posted by: Charlene | Nov 11, 2004 2:32:31 PM

Thank you, all, for the replies to my blog last week. Your sentiments underscore what many of us believe: that we must engrain ourselves into the mainstream parties, others to become (or remain) Independents, while continuing to push for policies based on shared American values and ideals, to opening dialogue with those on "the other side"; look to build alliances for progress. Progressives must span both parties and the great middle class of America. Only then will we have a REAL mandate!

Posted by: Ralph Miller | Nov 11, 2004 5:17:35 PM

Hey, thanks everyone! We had a fantastic year in Colorado. The CO State House and Senate are in Democratic hands for the first time since 1960! The State Senate picked up 2 seats and the State House a whopping 6 seats, (we have one race that is still undecided with the democratic candidate 4 votes down)!!

Thanks to all the volunteers and phenomenal candidates (which Gov. Dean generously contributed to). Without you, there would be no Democratic Majority in Colorado.

sandra ramos

Posted by: Sandra Ramos | Nov 12, 2004 5:44:37 PM

Hi Sandra, Hi Ralph: Wow, Colorado, that's amazing! Tokyo Gators just came back from canvassing in Florida-we won our three counties for Kerry. The Dems had a horribly outdated and wrong canvassing list, Chris got a cheap piece of software and fixed the whole database so that there was something besides first names to go buy (grrr).

It breaks my heart, on the one hand, to be voting for the first time at 46 and to not be voting for my first choice, and then to have lost anyway, and even more to see the first time kids in Manatee getting themselves to the polls and voting. But, I have a feeling that they are going to stay involved, somehow, that they won't give up and go away, because they can feel the spirit of what's at stake.

Meanwhile, DemsAbroad will probably have a Progressive Caucus at our Toronto event in March-very much looking forward to it, it's in the works now. And I chairing the first DA grassroots outreach committee-just getting moving on that, we'll see where we take it.

Thanks so much for all that we learned from you guys, and for all that the MVMV folks made happen. Can't wait to enjoy Austin next year!


Posted by: TerrinTokyo | Nov 16, 2004 2:26:09 AM

Great Thread Ralph---now we all gotta get our masters degress together ;-)

Posted by: ChrisNYC | Nov 17, 2004 2:24:53 PM

TYPO Alert from my post above--that is Masters Degree.

Posted by: ChrisNYC | Nov 17, 2004 2:26:16 PM

Congrads on bringing in your counties, Terri! On behalf of MViMV, you're very welcome. DemocracyFest is without a doubt the thing we are most proud of this year. Having everybody give such a glowing review and sharing the gains they made when they left was particularly rewarding.

Terri brings up a good point. How do we help ensure that for 2006 we're dealing with good data for mail/phone calls/canvassing?

Christy, don't have my Masters yet. Guessing my engineering firm won't pay for a Masters in Public Policy either. You guys will just have to tutor me. ; )

Posted by: Charlene | Nov 18, 2004 4:18:14 PM

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