Friday, May 12, 2006


The Value of Shoe Leather.

The Democratic Party, as you all know, was for some years--12 at the least, but as many 16--controlled by leaders who held a big money view of organization. To compete with the barons of the GOP, Dems decided to abandon the small fry who chipped in their ten spots in favor of corporate patrons whom they could count on to write massive checks. It also freed them from the musty precinct meetings and the old-school practice of talking to actual constituents. Buy votes with TV ads became the new motto. This served the party consistently, until 2004 when Terry McAuliffe brought home some of the most spectacular losses Dems could imagine.

Enter Howard Dean, who thinks like a midcentury populist, and who has battled with the power brokers inside the party to get back to the people. Yesterday Kevin Drum wondered aloud about whether the Dean strategy will pay off. Today he posts a comment from one of the rare Georgia Dems, who has what I'd love to believe is an anecdote that bodes well for the future:

About 6:30 this evening, a young lady rang my doorbell. She was canvassing for the DNC, going door to door talking to people and collecting small donations. We chatted for a while about this year's elections, Karl Rove, possible presidential candidates, and so on.

Now here's the thing: I have lived in blue and not so blue states in my life (and currently in the reddest of red states, Georgia) but this is the first time anyone representing the party has come to my house. What does she get for it? OK, I gave her some cash, but what is more interesting is what she found at some other houses in the neighborhood — Republican ones. Some of them gave her cash too. Others said they couldn't give money since it would put them in a bad position with the party, but that she was getting their vote this year. I can't help but think that this was worth whatever the DNC is paying her. She is creating new Democrats.

Lawd, I hope so.

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