Some Political Musings

Somehow it is days after I intended to last post.

A lot of the delay has been a distinct lack of time. We had Deb’s parents up for the weekend, plus visiting with my octogenarian aunt and uncle plus a last-minute arrival from Robbie. Whoosh, the weekend was gone.

On Monday, the Democratic Town Committee held its monthly meeting and my schedule finally let me attend one after missing the last two. Our District Leaders’ meeting was the usual assortment of stuff we’ve hashed through before and some new ideas which certainly had merit so I hope we act on them in the near future.

The main meeting was unusual in that we had a nice, healthy discussion regarding the best way to get the dems’ message across to the voters. Also, what has been working and not working among the various campaigns. Fairfield is in a unique situation in that we have not only some very active state races but the Congressional campaign between incumbent Chris Shays and two-time challenger Diane Farrell. Word has it that particular race is one of the tightest being watched in Washington.

On the local level as it is on the national level, the democrats seem to be having trouble getting the word out. Nationally, they just don’t seem to be unified with a message or an agenda. Locally, we’re dealing with a tremendous amount of voter apathy. To them, Governor Jodi Rell is a nice lady, a cancer survivor and must be doing a good job. She has an excellent approval rating but I wonder how many voters know her position on a variety of issues. While I missed her debate with challenger John DeStefano, the coverage on Tuesday did not make her sound like she had a vision I can subscribe to.

In my state district, the 132nd, Tom Drew the incumbent, mailed out a slick flyer that had two columns. One listing his promises from the last election and one listing his actually accomplishments. I only wish more candidates could and would do that so voters can measure for themselves if a change is required. The republicans are hammering the message that we need a change. My question is why? Tom’s accomplished a lot, and in a democratically-controlled House, you want someone like him who seems interested in giving all sides a fair hearing. Not only that, he’s brought home some impressive bacon, including a $400,000 grant just within the last few weeks.

Everyone’s busy, I recognize that. Still, one of the reasons our country has endured and grown to be a super-power is its system of government. People have the right to vote and far too few exercise that right. And those that step in the polls should walk in better educated to the issues and candidate’s positions so they make informed choices and not just go with a party line ideology out of habit. But then again, you can’t have everything.

Doesn’t mean a guy can’t wish for everything, though.

One comment

  • bonica_babe

    Hmmm… For me, the key thing is not to get overwhelmed about “changing the world”. I think the frame that is constructive is setting about with nails and hammer and “creating the future” – an involved, concerned citizenry is the key to our children’s future. It’s possible to identify and measure progress, and it won’t happen overnight.

    Busy people, yes — and people who got turned off and have fallen far behind in understanding the issues. What can each of us do to help provide quick, informative communication?

    Another aspect of busy is that people have, or make, less time for organized activities. I find I’m most vulnerable to media spin when I’m isolated from other activists. So group activities are important, even if they’re just having fun together and the casual conversations where people discover shared commitment can happen. It all matters. Silly as it sounds, that is how I discovered last winter that I was not the only person I knew who was terribly upset about the war. I had been afraid to talk about it because I was so sure I’d be shouted down.

    AS to passing on good information, I am planning to send out a series of emailed links to my friends — links to the debate videos, to charts comparing candidates’ positions, and to background news articles on key issues. I want to make it one stop shopping for people without the time to research.

    Since it will come from a friend, I am hoping that they’ll take the time to inform themselves.

    If I could do an ad campaign or billboard, it would be along the lines of “DUI has consequences: Deciding Un Informed.” “Know Before You Vote”
    I don’t know who could do this, but I have also thought it would be great to get a gym at a local school for a workshop the weekend before the election and have non candidates explain aspects of different issues and history and invite voters to this “voters’ intensive”. Many people who are alienated from the process could not really process the candidates’ positions, because they have no background context for them. I don’t think it’s progress to teach people to memorize your campaign themes; true understanding is progress.

    Another DTC or activist activity might be to have debate watching parties and afterwards, take questions from the audience to clarify what they didn’t understand about why candidates had various positions. Make them so highly informative that no one would think of watching the debate at home.

    A DTC could also start an ongoing “Democracy 101” project – start inviting people to attend DTC meetings, hearings, and other political and legislative events. The point would be to engage people in a sequence of activities that are happening anyhow and that would help them see and be part of the political process. If there was a clear sequence of “101” activities that would build on one another, we would start to have more informed and involved citizens. Everyone who comes to these events should be talked to, engaged, invited back, questions answered, and praised for getting involved.

    People can be asked, “What is your piece of the future? Creating a network of informed friends? Raising the level of information on an issue near and dear to you? Making sure everyone on your street gets to the polls?” It all matters.