Earlier today I sent the following email to the Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party:
Dear Mary Jung:
I would like to meet monthly with Democrats in my precinct to advance the goals of the Democratic Party.
Might the San Francisco Democratic Party help me with that effort?
Having discussed the idea with a number of other Democrats, I believe that If the Democratic Party encouraged and supported year-round precinct organizing, at least several Democrats in most precincts would devote at least a few hours a month to work with one another to help build the Democratic Party. That base of steady, consistent workers could engage in a wide variety of activities and accomplish a great deal.
Self-organizing Democratic Party precinct clubs could inspire meaningful social engagement and enrich the lives of participants by nurturing face-to-face community. Doing so could help rebuild the Democratic Party, as Paul Starr calls for in “The Democrats as a Movement Party.”
The more the Party supports and encourages precinct organizing, the more effective that effort will be. Scale is important. If potential participants know that a large number of others are participating, or soon will be, they will more likely get involved.
For those reasons, I recommend that you and the San Francisco Democratic Party urge the California Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee to encourage and support year-round precinct organizing. In addition, I ask you to directly and/or indirectly encourage Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to back year-round precinct organizing.
During the most recent Presidential debate, Sanders said:
I will do everything I can to open the Democratic party to the young people who are flocking into our political campaign…. Millions of young people who previously were not involved in the political process are now coming into it, and I do believe that we have got to open the door of the Democratic party to those people.
Year-round precinct organizing could be one way those young people could get involved.
I live at 1280 Laguna Street. If you already know someone in my precinct who wants to work with me on this project, please ask them to be in touch with me.
Otherwise, if the Democratic Party gives me information about residents in my precinct and indicates that it will support and encourage precinct-based organizing elsewhere, I will reach out to my neighbors to form a precinct club, with the understanding that my colleagues and I will provide the Party with updated voter information as we obtain it.
Such initial efforts in my precinct and other precincts could serve as models that would motivate Democrats and the Party elsewhere to organize precinct clubs.
So I would appreciate knowing your thoughts, which I may share publicly.
Might you support year-round precinct organizing in San Francisco and encourage the entire Democratic Party to do the same?
I also sent that email to thirty-one Democratic Clubs in San Francisco as well as numerous individual Democrats, with the following introduction:
Earlier today I sent the following email to Mary Jung, Chair of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee.
I’d be interested in your thoughts about these ideas and whether you might encourage the Democratic Party to undertake year-round precinct organizing.
As I receive responses to those communications, I’ll post them here as comments.
Time is urgent. With enough grassroots energy rooted in a shared commitment, we could transform the Democratic Party into a vital, activist organization that: 1) fights effectively for progressive policies backed by a majority of the American people, and; 2) addresses local personal, social, and environmental needs that are currently neglected, including the need for more meaningful face-to-face community.
The Party structure is already remarkably democratic. Rank-and-file Democrats elect leaders of the state Party, who elect the leaders of the national Party. The door is open. All that is needed is for enough people with enough unity to walk through it.
If Bernie decides to maintain tight control over his database (as did Barack) and use it only to support a few candidates here and there that he chooses to support (as he has done so far), he will diminish the prospects for building a participatory, self-organizing movement through the Democratic Party.
In Starr’s article, he reflects on how political parties have grown weaker, which undermines what any President can accomplish. He argues, “if progressives want large-scale, institutional change, they must rebuild the Democratic Party and animate it with a progressive agenda.”
Bernie has not yet clearly articulated a commitment to consistently pursue the transformation of the Democratic Party into a more democratic, progressive force rooted in the daily lives of ordinary Americans. If he chooses to do so, the possibilities are enormous.
At the outset, no one predicted what Bernie would accomplish. If he plays his cards right, the future could be even more remarkable. Self-organizing precinct clubs within the Democratic Party could play a major role in the “political revolution.”