Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Perpetual Campaigns

One of the realities of contemporary political life is that the campaign for the next election cycle begins even before the last one completed. We are in a time of perpetual campaigns and, along with that, of perpetual fund raising. Case in point: When Jerry McNerney defeated Richard Pombo in 2006, his series of "thank you" meetings in communities across the 11th CD was really a series of fund raisers for 2008.

I don't think that most Greens are really comfortable in this mode. Long range planning rarely gets beyond next month, let alone the next year. There is something about the culture of the Green Party where perpetual fund raising must be unseemly. Maybe we would rather keep picking at the wounds of the 2004 election cycle than to plan for the next one, an exercise that I would rather see carried out as a personal mental process.

Given that, I was excited on seeing the suggestions for a 2010 election that Mike Feinstein posted to an internal Green Party email list (California Green Forum). Mike is saying that we need to start paying attention to the election of 2010 now, not in 2010. That we need to begin to study the causes of our problems now, not like a college student trying to cram for a mid-term and stuffing it all in at the last moment.
I believe that in addition to running and winning more municipal races, we need to focus upon becoming more relevant in partisan races in 2010, which I believe is more likely if we are committed to running primarily for state legislature (Assembly and Senate) instead of Congress, combined with a coordinated message with our statewide constitutional office candidates

Towards this end, I believe we need to demonstrate that we understand how land use and tax policy coincide in this state.
I fully agree with this.

Some observations on political behavior. The American voter responds well to those who provide a vision of a new future and not so well to those who dwell on the past. This country was settled by people who were looking for a new beginning. The is still part of the mythology of America and we ignore that at our peril.

The current election cycle started out to be about Iraq. It is now about paying the mortgage and keeping your job. To quote James Carville's scrawled message from 1992, "It's the economy, stupid." So why do we make a big deal about the ultimate truth of 9/11? That is never about the future. It will never win voters.

In California, we have an education system that does not meet our expectations, yet takes 50% of the state budget. We have an escalating cost of living and a declining tax base. We want to attract and keep good teachers and are cutting school budget by 10%. It does not make sense.

We are not going to become a player at any level until we start dealing with what is relevant to voters now. I think that we would all do well to follow Feinstein's advice and prepare ourselves for the battles ahead. It starts understanding just how Proposition 13 has worked (for some) but has basically failed as the guiding principle for tax policy in California.

Feinstein suggested reading the following series of articles from the LA CityBeat web site. I second the suggestion and post the same links here. Each could be the subject of a thread from which to weave a tapestry of victories in 2010.

No comments: