Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Things have changed at the DNC in 4 years

In 2003-2004 I became an active member of the Democratic Party. I had been an involved in issues based politics most of my life, and had voted but I had never worked for a candidate, never gave money to a candidate or party before (except donations through Emily's List.) Howard Dean and the movement behind him was the reason I joined, drank the kool aide as it were and got involved.

I realized pretty quickly that the "PARTY" is just people. And people can change the way things happen and the way the party looks and operates only by JOINING- by just showing up. Not by standing on the sidelines.

Howard Dean led the way, first as a candidate for president, then on the stump for John Kerry and from then till now as the DNC chair.

Things have changed, really, and at some base level. It is not perfect, we have a ways to go to be more open, more informative, more long range thinking. BUT things have changed.

We all know about the idea of the 50 state strategy (without which Obama would have never been able to get this far). We have seen the increased influence of small donors and internet fundraising. But the change I am talking about is more fundamental than that.

I have a very concrete example.

2004 Boston convention vs. 2008 Denver convention

I was a proudly a Dean Delegate in 2004. I had the great fortune and honor to go to Boston, and at my candidate's request cast my vote for John Kerry. This year I am going to Denver as a 2008 DNC member-elect.

what is different? So far, everything.

In 2004 the seeds were there. About 3 dozen Bloggers were invited to attend and there were lots of grassroots trainings... but the process was still only really understood by long term party insiders. Before going to Boston I asked folks what to expect as a delegate and all anyone could rave about was that the parties were great. As a hard core activist type I couldn't believe that was all there was. As it turned out there were great trainings and events at Boston04, but I couldn't do much to find out about them or know what to expect until I got there.

THIS year...

Bloggers are not just invited but will participate in Unprecidented levels. There will be the media credentialed bloggers but even more importantly there will be bloggers represented on the floor, in the thick of things, with each and every state delegation! that means an open window into state party politics, process and outcome. And the DNC is doing this even amidst a controversial and drawn out battle over each and every delegate vote!

And as for information. The newest part of the DNC convention site is Convention 101... laying out for attendees and interested parties anywhere- what happens, how things are done, who is there and why, even what the day to day events look like.

This may seem obvious but it is a sea change. Seriously.
the openness and the eagerness to empower delegates, activists, donors, candidates, and future candidates is palpable. This way lies the future of a vibrant party and participatory government. Maybe a true coming home of we the people, back to our halls of power.

Optimistic... yes!
call me a proud hope-monger. But I do believe the party is changing, and I do believe the people are taking the lead and that we are making fundamental changes that will empower voters and a new breed of candidates long into the future.

We must keep up the work. And we must continue to support leaders who believe in open transparent sharing of information, decsion making, and planning. The future of our party and country depend on it.