Engage Swing States with Precinct-Based Clubs

unityWe the people need a national organization that can quickly mobilize massive pressure on Congress to implement improvements in national policy that are backed by a majority of the American people.

Over the years, I’ve joined in efforts to help create a strong national coalition, including the Rainbow Coalition, the Alliance for Democracy, the Campaign to Abolish Poverty, the Progressive Challenge, and the Obama campaign organization.

Those efforts did not flourish, but Obama paved a path for Bernie Sanders. Now the Democratic Party is taking its platform seriously. The New Republic reported that this year’s platform may be “foundational” rather than an “afterthought.” The Party may not forget about its platform after the convention.

Those developments led me to propose to the San Francisco Democratic Party that they engage in year-round precinct organizing as a model for how to rebuild the Democratic Party into an activist organization that fights for its platform throughout the year.

Several Party leaders in the San Francisco Democratic Party have voiced support for those ideas. When I discuss the concept with my taxi passengers, the response has been enthusiastic. Recently I started reaching out to fellow residents in my apartment complex and interest has surfaced.

Yesterday Mary Jung, the outgoing chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, told me that, prior to the Party’s July 20 meeting, she will email to the Central Committee members my proposal.

Following is the latest draft and “cover letter” that I asked Mary to send. Your feedback and suggested changes are welcome. The latest draft will always be at: https://goo.gl/sE9RON.


Dear SF County Central Committee Members:

I’d very much appreciate your feedback and suggested changes concerning the following. In particular, do you support this proposal?

Might you be able to place it on the July 20 agenda for action?

If not, should I encourage year-round precinct organizing during Public Comment?

Wade Hudson


Engage Swing States with Precinct-Based Clubs (7/10/16 Draft)

To: The San Francisco Democratic Party

Here’s a suggestion for your consideration.

Organize precinct-based clubs to:

  • Engage in online conversations with undecided voters in other regions.
  • Help elect Clinton in November.
  • Influence national policy after the election.
  • Create a model the Party could use throughout the country.
  • Help the Party become an activist organization that fights for its platform year-round.

The Democratic Party already has a bottom-up structure. By uniting to implement a precinct organizing project, like-minded Democrats could rebuild the Party into a powerful, national, inclusive, democratic, multi-issue, activist coalition. That approach could help address the problems associated with weak political parties as described in Jonathan Rauch’s excellent Atlantic cover story, “How American Politics Went Insane.”

Five or more Democrats who live in the same precinct could form self-organizing clubs and engage in some of the following activities (and others not listed here):

  1. Meet in a member’s home, a nearby community center, or a coffee house.
  2. Share food and drink and socialize informally.
  3. Study and discuss the national platform.
  4. Engage in online conversations with undecided voters in other regions.
  5. Participate in phone banks when the Party organizes them.
  6. Discuss the results and how to most effectively talk with others.
  7. Share information about other opportunities for engagement, such as online petitions.
  8. Meet with Democrats from other precinct-based clubs and compare notes.
  9. Use NextDoor and Meetup to connect with neighbors.
  10. Go together to volunteer at a soup kitchen or otherwise serve unmet local needs.

A city-wide kick-off meeting could launch this project. Local leaders, including elected officials, could set an example by meeting monthly with their neighbors.

Precinct-based clubs could nurture a meaningful sense of community, thereby helping to fill a void felt by many Americans. Developing stronger personal bonds would enable neighbors to learn from one another and help sustain ongoing political activism.

The Internet enables engagement with voters in other regions. How to connect with those voters could be a learning process. Asking questions, for example, can be more effective than lecturing.

Google Groups could enable precinct club members to discuss what works. Google Docs could enable clubs to post reports. City-wide gatherings could serve to motivate participation and exchange information.

In those and other ways, San Francisco could pave new ground for how to reach beyond the choir and rebuild the Democratic Party.  

Wade Hudson

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