Steve asked me to drop by over Thanksgiving and I thought I'd give the system a test drive having learned from this incredible article the importance of running a crash test before a big event. Like a lot of you I spent the run up to this election canvassing (in my case for Elizabeth Warren) and then poll watching on the day. Now that the election is over I only wish I had done more--gone out for one of those OFA internships, fought my way into joining the sociological data analysis they were doing, worked harder on the social media end of things. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team but the professionalism and the thoughtful way this campaign was run seems to me to tell a larger and more important story about the importance of joining something larger than ourselves and of voting as the supreme act of civic engagement--not casting a vote, once every four years, but choosing to be a political actor every day.
Over at dailyKos one of the most inspirational and thought provoking diaries I've ever read describes the linkage between ground game, community health, and voting as a social act. In "Vaccinating Old People For Democracy" the writer describes a multi stage process of bringing non voting, rural, Hispanic and Native American citizens out of their social isolation and into the political arena by using vaccination programs, community fairs, exercise programs, canning lessons and dozens of other innovative strategies. But it all boils down to this: building community builds voters. Becoming a voter is a byproduct of becoming engaged as a citizen with the issues of the day and of your own community.
It remains to be seen what happens to OFA and its incredible resources after this election cycle. But the diary I've linked to above indicates another way of organizing, from the ground up, that will, in the long run, be more important than any "day of" poll watching and GOTV. We've seen a lot of handwringing about the gerrymandering of Republican districts and how difficult that will make retaking the house but I don't believe that has to be a foregone conclusion. On the contrary I think there is an obvious Trojan horse hiding inside many gerrymandered districts--if the Republican party drew those district lines with the same set of beliefs that they ran the Romney campaign the Trojan horse is the existence of micro communities of potential democratic voters who were thought to be "unlikely" voters by the Republican party: elderly Hispanic, Native American, young women, other minorities, college students, etc..etc...etc...
Locating these voters, reaching people now, in advance of the 2014 election, and engaging them as citizen actors in everything from local debates about garbage collection to local parks issues is going to be what flips solidly red counties to blue and could lead to the 2014 elections being a banner year for the Democratic Party with respect to the house. If we believe our domestic policies are better for the country and the voter--and I do--then this is the direction we need to go.