Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Dukakis speaks

This interview with Michael Dukakis (remember him?) might be worth a glance. Note his comments on grassroots campaigning. At first sight it seems, well Karl Rove-like and sensible, and then he confuses real mano-a-mano politics with internet fundraising. He is asked what he thought of Kerry’s campaign:

I think the one great missing piece in this campaign, and it’s something that we Democrats have got to get serious about at every level, was that we still aren’t doing the grassroots job the way it has to be done. I happen to be a product of grassroots campaigning, grassroots organization. I wouldn’t have been elected dogcatcher in my state had it not been for that.

When I’m talking about grassroots organization, I’m not talking about parachuting kids in with two weeks to go from seven states over. I’m talking about a precinct organization with a precinct captain in every precinct and block captains – maybe a half a dozen per precinct – who systematically make contact with every single voting household in that precinct, beginning early. This is not something you do in the last couple of weeks. You have to start months in advance. And you do it on a 50-state basis. I don’t care if the state is red, blue or polka dot.

Then he goes on to explain how this can be accomplished at no cost (and no work) by using the internet. I guess he didn’t learn from Karl Rove.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Truly a strange contradiction in Dukakis’s thinking here. Political organizations are built through in-person contact, not on the internet.
Of course, some conservatives fall into this trap, too. Americans’ love affair with technology often blinds them to simple realities.

One strong point Dukakis made, which I’m not sure the GOP leadership understands very well, is that precinct work does indeed have to begin far in advance of the election. While Rove and Mehlman undoubtedly understand this, many others probably don’t.

With the exception of the Internet part Dukaka hits it on the head. In my little part of the world the Bush Campaign was organized and had eyed up precinct captains for every targeted ward/precinct well before the summer.

I am not sure about the opposition but the only evidence of any similar effort on the Dems part around here was the people in their campaign HQ and seeing the ACT HQ in town.

Yes, the GOP did have its act together early last year, and I’m sure that made a difference. But the question is whether there has been a change of *culture* in the party, especially among the mid-level and lower-level leadership. Republicans don’t like politics as much as Democrats do, and therefore usually get into the game later than they should.

The test will be the ’06 elections. Will we have precincts organized by early summer, or late summer, or wait until mid-October as we have tended to in the past? 2004 was excellent, but this excellence was built in an unusually favorable environment. Parties cannot depend on unusually favorable environments.

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