BY RICHARD L. FRICKER
The Democratic Party of Oklahoma, in particular and nationally in general, has failed miserably, not only as a political party but also as a party claiming to represent the common citizen. Rank and file Democrats must demand a complete party reorganization.
Fraught with quislings, Democrats In Name Only [DINO], and the self-serving, the party has allowed the Legislature and principal state offices to be dominated by an ideological Taliban with no philosophy to its politics and no theology to its so-called religion.
They’ve allowed the electorate to be duped into voting against their own self-interests, save a few legislators.
The Democratic Party has failed to provide a platform. It has failed to explain why legislation is helpful or harmful. It has failed to show the voter, the citizen, why their interests are best served by the Democratic Party.
The current situation need not remain the status quo. It all depends on how hard the rank-and-file are willing to work. It depends on how willing the party is to shift from being a disorganized group to an actual political party.
Rebuilding is simple, labor intensive, ongoing and sometimes painful. However, it can be done, but must occur from top to bottom.
The precinct is the bedrock of any party organization. “Precinct Chairman” must become more than just a title.
Precinct chairmen must be encouraged and supported to keep in touch and keep track of the local electorate. The precinct chairman should be the person local elected officials, or potential candidates, go to on a regular basis for updates and concerns.
Democrats have forgotten House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill’s axiom “All politics is local.” O’Neill remained in the House 34 years and was the second-longest serving speaker, 1977-1987. Sam Rayburn of Texas, also a Democrat, was the longest serving speaker, 17 years.
Democrats must re-invigorate the Young Democrats. Today’s high school junior will be a voter in 2012. Today’s college senior could well be a 2012 legislative candidate.
There was a time when the party put a lot of stock in the Young Democrats. YD’s stuffed envelopes, filled coffee cups, put up signs and any number of things to make life easier so candidates could concentrate on campaigning.
This same group, if tapped, can make the Internet hum, Twitterers twit and Facebook come alive. They know today’s communication systems by nature; they can do it from an iPhone.
Why let such a resource lay fallow? Enfranchise these young people into the party. They need to become a part of the party. They need leadership that understands not only how to make them feel welcome, but recognize the vital part they can play.
Who cares if a YD has tattoos, multicolored day-glow hair, piercings, looks and talks as if from another dimension, as long as they vote and get out the vote. Young people like activity, they also like being treated with respect. The party has failed the young.
YD’s can bring more to the table than just labor, they can be a source of ideas. They need strong leadership that can not only speak their language, but listen. These young people are the future of the Democratic Party.
At the other end of the spectrum, legislators and the party leadership should have designated people to address each issue. It is silly to let each issue to go unanswered.
Democrats should have a party person designated to address particular issues. There must be a “go to” person on each issue. It is naive in the extreme to expect each legislator to speak on each and every issue.
E-mails, Twitter and other state of the art communication elements need to be employed without reservation. Again, the YD’s are experts.
The Internet is not enough. On each issue the precinct chairman and the rank-and-file need to be on a shoe leather level with the electorate.
Until the Democratic Party can tell people, the electorate, who they are, what they stand for and why it is good for the rank and file, they need to be prepared to be relegated to second-class status.
There is a lesson in this off-year election, a lesson Democrats should take to heart. As so aptly stated by Donavan Phillip Leach, “The mongoose is gone.” That is to say, Democrats must quit relying on past glories, and traditional power bases. Democrats need to rebuild their party and once again embrace politics, not consensus building.
– Richard L. Fricker lives in Tulsa, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer, providing both essay and video commentary [see Observer home page]. His latest book, Martian Llama Racing Explained, is available at http://www.richardfricker.com.