I have to take issue with Matt O’Brien’s recent article about the Hayward Democrats. The organization is hardly a king maker.
A more accurate description of the current political reality in our area and the country is that we live under a ‘candidate centered no party system’ where interest groups have much more of an influence over politics than do the two parties. This is especially true for local party organizations.
In Alameda County for example a supposed Democrat stronghold, way less than one percent of Democrats are members of local party organizations. We have over 400,000 registered Democrats in the county and probably less than 2000 people who are members of local clubs. Local organizations also have budgets which are less than one percent of what is spent on campaigns by candidates in our area. Many cities and towns don’t even have local party organizations and less than five percent of the people who live in a town which has a organization know anything about the organization.
We do however have the potential of communicating with many of these members, there are close to 100,000 Democrats in the county with available e-mail addresses. Communicating and mobilizing our members are the two primary duties of political parties. I have yet to hear an elected Democrat or a Democrat County central committee member endorse the idea of developing local e-mail communication. The ability to communicate with registered Democrats through e-mail would apparently increase the power of local Democrat organization but devalue the interest group money contributed to candidates.
We are at the crossroads of political communication development in our society. Groups like Move On are communicating with millions of people and mobilizing people against the war. The Democrats if they shared some power with the rank and file and did party building and mobilization work could end the war very quickly. We could also do a much better job of winning things like health care reform and reducing global warming with a less debilitated party system. With a stronger party system during the New Deal for example we were able to win numerous progressive reforms . According to Joe Bidden those reforms would never ‘fly’ today.
The Hayward Demos are hardly king makers but rather are local activist who care more about issues like health care, education the environment and peace than they do about candidates. We do however have a great deal of respect for people who are willing to throw their hat in the ring and serve their community.