Quick Talk to the Dems
I've been pretty ranty lately, and that's not about to stop now, but i figured i'd better throw down a basic set of ideas on What Needs To Happen. I'm writing off a script, which can be found here, but that's how it goes.
Learn what it is, how to use it, and more importantly: how to enable others to help you through it.
This ties in with the others, but America is tired of the one-way conversation that is politics. Things are too disjointed to hold a real conversation the "old-fashioned" way. Does actual conversation as a participant instead of an ideologue scare you? Think back a couple years. No, back further. Remember back when people used to be able to knock on the White House door and have a chat with the President of the United States? Well you can have that type of conversation too. We're waiting for you.
Speaking of Conversations...
Learn to talk with a real voice.
You used to know, i'm pretty sure. Most people did, but our modern education system stripped that ability out of most of us and replaced it with cold, automaton-like blandness. You want to know why Dean attracted so many young people? He could talk with a real human voice. That doesn't just mean how he speaks, but how he writes, communicates, and even being respectful.
This isn't the sort of thing you can pick up in a weekend seminar. It involves forgetting everything you used to know and starting over. That doesn't mean "dumbing down" your speech, but rather learning to really talk. Most of us are taught a bland, flavorless method of speech to emulate the "great speakers"--but that doesn't help at all! There is no easy way to learn to speak and you need to realize that you were probably taught otherwise. That's why great speakers really are great and not just another face in the crowd. Of course, this can also bite you in the ass. Dean spoke with a real human, but when reality broke away from appearance of reality after Iowa he got burned by going with reality. Ultimately, we must value those who get burned for the sake of talking with people.
I would go into a discussion of how modern politics is like Baator (in the Planescape D&D session) but i won't.
Speaking of My Hobbies
If you're going to speak like a real person the first step is to be one. If you only interact with the public through $1,000-per-person fundraising dinners you will be seen as a corporate shill. And with some justification.
Represent Your Citizens
Like i've mentioned, you have to know who they are. As our nation has grown so have the number of people represented per elected official. The inevitable result is a breakdown in communication between politicians and the people. Ditch the Public Relations Experts. Anyone worth talking to can smell the staleness from a mile away.
Take a look at George Bush. Despite his inability to string two words together coherently he is seens by a lot of people as "their kind of guy". This is one of the (relatively few) things that he has half-right. He wasn't always seen that way, believe it or not. When he was first running for public office he sounded like he really had actually recieved an Ivy-League education (go back and listen to his debates, etc, if you don't believe me). But Texans thought he sounded like an automaton and voted against him. He actually intentionally adopted the Texas accent and so on based on this. Now, that isn't to say his trouble with words is faked (there're a number of theories on this point that aren't really worth going into) but he knew the trick.
Bill Clinton knew all about this. Now, Clinton was also hated for his "triangulation", which was clearly a political move to retain power. But that ultimately didn't knock him out of the game.
Be a Leader, Not a Follower
This is a prime sin of the Democratic Party. Don't follow polls, don't follow "Expert Advice". Be a leader. This means a lot of work. That's fine. Take some time off, delegate tasks that you don't need to do personally. Think big picture and let people in on what that picture is.
In order to lead, however, you must understand what problems real people face. You need to be a citizen before you can be a politician. Focus groups let you pretend you know--but you never will unless you're actively engaged in your community. Career politicians aren't very popular for a reason.
Since, presumably, you are authority yourself then you may as well start there.
But more importantly: don't forget to challenge others, also. And not just superficially: is there really a need for this authority? Does this hierarchy really serve the people? Some of this is challenging yourself to see what part of the political machine is there for those you represent and what part is there to make you feel more comfortable.
Stand Up For Your Beliefs
You're a real person too. Know what you can compromise and what you won't. This is the "be bold" in the original text where the author talks about Gavin Newsom and how Newsom stood up for his beliefs. By the simple act of standing up about something he thought everyone was doing wrong he was sudenly dictating the issues. Do you really think that if the entire Democratic Party stood up on something like same sex marriage the Republicans would continue to brow-beat you on it? Talk about same sex marriage as a Christian. That first means learning about same sex marriage from a Christian viewpoint. Don't take the answers dictated by ideologues. Why not attend a church service ministered by a gay pastor? Why not ask? Talk about same sex marriage from a stance of patriotism: equality, freedom, justice, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are all just starters.
Do you really think that by letting the Republicans have a total monopoly on this area you're going to somehow come out ahead? Doesn't that sound a little crazy? By admitting the Republicans are right you think people are going to vote for you? What the fuck for? Aren't they going to vote for the leaders, not those who opportunistically follow the wind?
Texas is 60% Republican
But 40% Democrat.
Actually, i don't know what the exact pecentage is.
When was the last time a Democrat took Texas seriously as far as spending time and attention on it? But there are still how many Democrats there?
Don't give up ground just because you're ten points behind. You'll never win that way.
If you're behind then what can you do to get ahead?
In The Same Vein...
The Democratic Party is the party of rural America, too. Why the hell would rural America vote Republican? Tax cuts for the mega-corporations? Self-perpetuating elites who foist unrelated issues (*cough* same sex marriage *coughcough*) on them as their primary issues? As opposed to stuff that affects them like making sure their kids won't get left out of the new world? Maybe because you're don't pay any attention to them and the Republicans do? Say it to yourself, and mean it: The Democratic Party is the party of rural America.
Be a Winner
That's kinda ephemeral, but it's important too. The "bandwagon effect" is powerful. Create it, don't jump onto it. That means you're going to get smacked down a couple times. Make sure you take chances where you can, and where it's worth it.