Thursday, December 23, 2004

Doin's in the Dem Party - Think Locally Act Globally (and vice versa)

Hey Green Dogs,

There's doin's since some of you suggested an anti-Iraq War/Bring our Troops Home resolution for the California State Party.

So far, East Bay, Marin, San Francisco, and North Bay have all expressed interest.

Many of us will be discussing this at the Assembly District reorganization meetings on January 8th and 9th (depending on where you live. If you don't know which one you're in go here and find out: There's a lot more interest in becoming a State delegate than in any past years since I've been involved.

Here is draft resolution submitted by Mal Burnstein of Berkeley (AD 14). Tell us what you think, and consider carrying it to your Clubs, Central Committees and ADs:

Whereas the Bush Administration misled the country into an illegal, unnecessary and unwise war, against the advice of most of the world and without United Nations support, against a country that had not attacked or threatened the United States; and

Whereas that war has caused and continues to cause, in a seemingly never-ending cycle, the loss of countless American, Iraqi and other lives and maimed and injured many more, including numerous innocent civilians; and

WHEREAS the war has alienated us from most of the world, continues to deplete our economy at an alarming rate to the detriment of the American People and has destroyed Iraqi civil society and seems to be creating a civil war among Iraqi factions and religions;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 14th Assembly District Democratic Committee declares that it supports as immediate a withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq as they can be replaced by United Nations Peacekeeping forces; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 14th Assembly District Assembly Committee calls upon the California State Democratic Party to pass a similar resolution and urge the United States Congress, which has the ultimate power to declare and end war, to immediately implement the same.

As promised, here is the full message from Thomas Gangale on reforming the primary process:

Hi Dotty,As you know, for some time now I've been beating the drum for reforming the presidential nomination process. The opportunity has now presented itself within the Democratic Party. Terry McAuliffe empaneled a Presidential Primary Commission a week ago (see <>), something I suggested to him in June 2003. So, the game is afoot!Art Torres announced a few days ago that he will serve on the commission. Naturally, I'm sending him info on the California Plan.Eighteen months ago I predicted that John Kerry would be the Democratic nominee, and that Bush would win reelection. Counterintuitively, Kerry's early victory over Dean was his ultimate undoing. By the end of February, he was already the presumptive Democratic nominee. That was big news at the time, but it had no staying power. Was anything he did between then and the Democratic Convention at the end of July big news? He couldn't buy a headline! Meanwhile, his Republican opponent could fart in the Oval Office or the Rose Garden and make news. Prior to the first presidential debate in October, political pundits said that this was the first opportunity for Kerry to show the American people who he really was. This shouldn't have been his first opportunity! The people should have known Kerry well before this! And, they would have, if the Democratic nomination process had been more contentious. History shows that in the case of a largely uncontested nomination in one party, it is that nominee who wins: Nixon 1972, Reagan 1984, Clinton 1996. Since Bush was uncontested in 2004, it is unsurprising that he won. However, when the nominations in both parties were contested, it was the more contentious nomination struggle that produced the eventual winner: Carter 1976, Reagan 1980, Clinton 1992, Bush 2000. (In 1988, the nomination fights in both parties were equally contentious.) This is an unbroken rule in American politics over the past 40 years.Now, an uncontested nomination is statistically less likely than a contested one, since it presupposes a popular incumbent (at least within his own party). In 2008, however, the nominations in both parties will be open, and the Democratic Party should structure its primaries accordingly. According to my theory, the winner of the more contentious nomination process will win the White House. The problem is that the front-loaded scheduling that has been increasingly in vogue since 1998 truncates competition. If you don't win the first couple of contests (Iowa and New Hampshire), you're basically screwed. You don't live to fight another day, because the first game is "sudden death."In my view, the path to Democratic victory in 2008 is clear. The present DNC chair, Terry McAuliffe, who engineered the most front-loaded primary schedule in history in 2004, has been proven wrong. The early determination of the nominee is not advantageous to the party. We need a more, not less, competitive nomination process. The RNC's Brock Commission came to the same conclusion in 2000 at the philosophical level, although the reform plan that it recommended (the Delaware Plan) was flawed and was ultimately shot down by the Bush campaign. Now, the Democratic Party has the opportunity to seize the initiative. I believe that a protracted nomination fight in 2008 will train the Democratic nominee into fighting trim for the main event in November. A competitive primary process will vet the party's message to a finely-honed edge. If one believes in the democratic process, and in the virtues of competition, this only make sense.As much as I have been interested in politics over the years, and I'm now studying political science at SFSU in both the national and international milieux, I'm a neophyte when it comes to hands-on politics. Right now, I'm just a guy who thinks he has a pretty good idea. The California Plan has received some very favorable comments came up on a couple of blog sites. One is by Garry Young, a Poli Sci faculty member at GWU, at <>. Another is by Chris Bowers, a Democratic Party activist in Philadelphia, at <>. And, of course, Lynn Woolsey wrote to Terry McAuliffe in support of the California Plan last year. But now it's time to pick up the pace. I need to get the word out, get more endorsements, and ultimately I need to get myself invited to present my ideas before the commission. If you have any ideas on who I should hook up with, I'd appreciate it.Best regards,Tom Gangale

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Thoughts for the Solstice

Now that the longest night has passed, we can look forward to spring. Literally, and hopefully, metaphorically as well.

We must look forward, even as the country seems to be lurching backward in a Republican frenzy to unravel progressive initiatives like the Social Security, protecting the environment, human rights, free speech, and other minor advancements we've managed to craft over the last two hundred years.


Mark Leno, Assembly member from San Francisco is still pushing his Gay Marriage initiative in the State Legislature, but calling it something like religious freedom and non-discrimination in marriage act. Is the first page from the playbook of Karl Rove the Democrats are taking?

If so, hoorah. We have to couch things in language that will strike a chord with people, not frighten them off. Go Mark!


A correspondent writes that the nomination process for the Democratic primary needs serious overhaul. The front loaded process by which Kerry was annointed as soon as he took Iowa denies us a choice, and doesn't allow for vigorous airing of the issues. He's proposing a plan whereby primaries are truly contested, predicting the more contested, the better the ultimate candidate and more chance he (or she) has of winning. I will try to post the whole story here soon.