Former Occupier Tries Being a Democrat, Hates It

In which the Occupy movement is derided in the comments as a flash in the pan that changed nothing. - promoted by Bob_Neer

An activist who took part in Occupy Boston decided to give the Democratic Party caucus and convention process a shot:

“I’m not into party politics. Never have been. Although Massachusetts is more progressive than other states, the system feels too rigged for me to make a serious investment. I’m a registered Democrat and have been for a long time, even though I don’t identify as one. I vote in every election not because I feel like it makes a huge difference, if any, but because it only takes about 10 minutes, so why not?”

“A bunch of party faithfuls huddle in a relatively small room and argue for hours about who is The Best. In my experience, a number of attendees seemed to come from central casting: zombie neoliberal sycophants looking to take selfies with candidates, college Dems in polo shirts and pearls who look “Kennedyesque;”

“Being a delegate for the Democratic Convention, on the other hand? I wish I’d never set foot in my caucus. The only people who really enjoy stuff like that, I think, are either political wonks or folks who like having their asses kissed by powerful people who make personal calls and approach them in arena aisles. The kicker: the process of Democrats caucusing and the convention itself lasted over four months, and most Massachusetts people probably have no idea that they happened at all. Occupy Boston, on the other hand, lasted only two and a half months but won’t be forgotten anytime soon.”

Read the full article at the Dig.

Personally, i’m inclined to agree with her. Thoughts?


150 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. What caucus did she attend...

    …that lasted for hours? If she doesn’t like the process or the outcome she should bring more of her fellow Occupiers to the next one, which granted may not be interesting again for several years. I have said that no candidate rocked the caucuses the way DLP did in 2006 and that is a shame, but otherwise I’ve previously made comments on the value of caucuses. The four months between caucuses and convention really only HAVE to be known by the delegates, but it’s too bad the campaign hasn’t penetrated the public consciousness since then.

  2. Looks as if for a large part she got what she wanted. She wanted to look down on people and a process, and succeeded. Her own words belie the point of view she wanted to impose on everything: changing the electorate so people who agree with you join? “Shifty”. Self-assessment of how well she understood the process? “Clueless”. The speeches? “far-left” (hah! Not in my caucus!) Annoyingly, alternates must be elected. A fire alarm went off, which…I guess is the Democrats’ fault.

    Then the convention, where for some reason all the candidates speak. In the middle of a rally where people are self-congratulatory (not like Occupy at all!) We’re sure to mention someone’s spray-tanning.

    The columnist is right about how ridiculously long the counting was. No argument there. But in the main in felt like a journal by somebody who decided to dirty herself in the hard organizational work with little short-term gratification, decided that the people and the process were no good, and quit. I went to university with a bunch of people like this, who all wondered why their movements weren’t having much of an impact on the wider world. You get out what you put in.

    Any familiar group is tough to get into. It takes a year on a committee to earn the trust of others. I

    sabutai   @   Wed 3 Sep 8:51 PM
  3. Nothing but contempt

    For these hipster posers with 60s envy who think they’re too cool for school. The idea that anything at Dewey Square changed anything at all is laughable. I wish it had but it didn’t. They’re debating whether purple is too royal a color and the caucus attendees are the walking stereotype? The caucus process is tedious but camping in a park for two months isn’t? Spare me. Big shock this person ended up with Berwick, whom she’d barely heard of.

    Go ahead, ask me what I really think.

  4. the political process be boring.

  5. It's sad, that she believes this:

    “Occupy Boston, on the other hand, lasted only two and a half months but won’t be forgotten anytime soon.”

    • Occupy shifted the debate in ways that only grassroots movements can.

      It is up to us to make good on that using the means available to us.

      • The Occupy movement highlighted how wealth has gotten over-concentrated. It also moved the national focus away from the rather unhelpful focus on the national debt over to income inequality. This has been hugely beneficial.

        I write as someone who spent that period rolling my eyes about how vague and amorphous the Occupy movement’s political demands were.

        • I'm not sure

          It may have contributed but I recall a lag time of a year and a half before any shift in the conversation. Even in early 2013 we were still having deficit reduction mania skewing the fiscal cliff talks. Not to mention the shutdown.

          • not entirely fair

            You will have deficit reduction mania again, the next time the opportunity presents itself. But in 2013, Dems had something to talk about in return.

            I am not sure anything moves the “national focus” except extraordinary, uncontrolled events, and maybe not even those. The talking points are the talking points, and the narrative of everything is modified accordingly. Certainly nothing changes the “national conversation” because there isn’t one.

      • I think that's backwards

        Occupy Wall Street didn’t change the debate, it was a symptom of the debate changing. People started caring more about inequality and talking about it, and some of those people decided to be dramatic about it and camped out in areas associated with the financial industry. Certainly, in order for “debates to change” people actually have to get out and express themselves, and camping out certainly attracted people’s attention, but it seems like specious reasoning to assume that it was particularly effective.

  6. I also didn't appreciate

    The suggestions that the state party has a diversity problem. Hard as it may be for a JP resident to process, the state as a whole actually is 85% white.

  7. Meetings no fun? People have said a lot worse

    about Occupy meetings.

    At least the author is honest about that:

    By the end, GAs devolved into screaming matches between a few dozen people. The first time I escaped a GA was during a proposal about what color we should be. Seriously.

    We couldn’t be blue, because that was too Democrat. Purple was a mix of red and blue, so it was bipartisan, but it was also the “color of monarchy,” which a few didn’t like. Someone wanted a rainbow, and lots of people didn’t want any color at all.

    Much argument and back and forth ensued, and it didn’t seem like it’d end soon. Finally, a friend from the media working group nudged me and whispered, “Hey. Let’s ditch this and go to the bar.”

    I can relate. But honestly, even the DCU sounds better than that.

    • The DCU had its problems

      No doubt. But people forget that we have thus many open seats and candidates every 12 or 20 years. It’s not always like this.

  8. Rigged

    “Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you; if you don’t bet you can’t win.” — Robert A. Heinlein

  9. Occupyist shits on Democrat conventioneers. Democrat conventioneers shit back.

    Nobody is winning, and the Democratic party rank and file gets older and older, meanwhile young people register as unenrolled rather than as members of the party for which they vote the vast majority of the time.

    With due respect to a number of posters on this thread who I really like, for shame. Rather than be snippy, why not engage and discuss how the Democratic party can, while staying true to what is important to us, both evolve to become better and recruit people from the occupy movement.

    • So much this.

      We cannot win on our issues by continuing to turn inward and we cannot afford to turn people away.

      Robin is an AMAZING activist. She is the very best of Occupy in every single way. She understands “multiple fronts/multiple strategies” and she’s not an anarchist who wants to burn the whole thing down and start over.

      SHE –or, if you can’t forgive her criticism of the Convention/Caucus, then ‘Someone Like Her’– *should* be one of the shining stars (insofar as we like cults of personality in our little ponds) of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

      She brought a newcomer’s eye to the Caucus/Convention process, and it’s not pretty: it’s keeping new blood and new ideas away, even when they’re trying to find their way in. Shame on all of us. This should be a Party wake up call.

    • Shame is strong

      When the premise of the diary is “the Democratic Party sucks,” it’s natural that Democrats should push back.

      But I will agree that the greater burden is on us, to be welcoming.

      • Actually, the premise is: The system/process is seriously flawed

        I know she has tremendous respect for activists inside the party and the electoral function the Parties serve. I think one of the key questions for local Party people is: why don’t more people know about caucuses and how they relate to either their activism (in the case of someone like Robin) or their everyday lives (in the case of the busy parent who lives across the street)?

        • OK

          Fair questions, but I think those are questions for the state committee. I think some BMGers are on the committee.

          • Def for the State Committee--but also for every last one of us

            My personal experience is that local grassroots face/face, one/one organizing/communication is the most effective way to get people to learn about and (more stretchingly) *go* to caucus (let alone run in caucus).

          • DSC member here

            There is the requirement that they be announced via local media, but those announcements aren’t always easy to find. Publicity falls primarily to the local committees. My most recent diary has a few other ideas. I wish the media would use the airtime and column inches spent denigrating the process to education voters about it instead.

        • I didn't see it in her article

          And if she wants to make changes to the process, that many of us admit is flawed, she shouldn’t start by making fun of the people who are attending or contrasting it to the “awesome time” but functionally useless experience that Occupy had. Political maturity requires picking a party, working within it’s system, and changing it from within. Same with lobbying, as judy-meredith and striker have shown, and the insider/outsider dichotomy shouldn’t matter as much as the progressive/not progressive dichotomy within the party. I respect that she is an activist frustrated by politics as usual-you’d be hard pressed to find an activist satisfied with the status quo, by the definition of the term the idea is to replace inertia with action. But, there are different means of achieving it.

          I would take the unique approach, at least on this forum, that occupy and the caucuses are both legitimate expressions of progressive activism. The party caucus process could use a little bit of the free spirit and inclusivity of the occupy movement, and lord knows, if you are debating what color to have, than you need a lot more organization, discipline and hierachy. Let’s have these two movements work and learn from each other, rather than throw stones at one another’s glass houses.

          • Not that unique

            I’m all for both. Protest is good. I support the goals of the Occupy movement. Have for 20 years. I was happy they were out there and I went down myself when I could. But at the time I could sense already that this was not sufficiently well-organized, nor the demands sufficiently well-honed to lead to major change.

            My problem here is with an article that appears to have been written specifically to mock the Democratic Party process and to wax wistful about the glory days of Occupy. It’s not going to be cool all the time. If people can’t handle a caucus how will they have they eye for detail and tenacity not to get burned in the legislative process? The other side has army of good lawyers who understand the details. You have to have an attention span – or at least not mock the concept – to get stuff done.

          • Editorial

            I agree that the constructive piece isn’t present in the article. I think that the “two movements together” and “multiple strategies and approaches” is the spirit in which she entered the fray. And again, if we ever want to grow our movement, we need to make space for “newbies”.

            In personal conversations/emails, I know that the article was dramatically edited down, and that one section she was sad to see lost dealt with how there ARE great activists inside the system.

    • I'm more than happy to do that...

      …but the Occupiers need to rethink their rejection of the parties and the process if they want to effect real change.

      • GLobal statements

        “Occupiers need to…”
        Robin is an occupier. She’s one of the Ur-Occupiers. She didn’t reject the process or party. She went out of her way to go thru the channels.

        Let’s stop this globalizing dismissals. I’m a (non-tent-sleeping) Occupier. Several people in Needham were animated and activated by Occupy. They go to the DTCs and caucuses too. There isn’t this “Occupying Hippie” vs “THru the Proper Channels” split. A strong network of “Occupiers” in Metrowest still organize and meet and are chipping away at smaller bore efforts. We’re still doing the work, much of it “Occupyish”. But because it’s going thru The System, you don’t recognize it as Occupy. Now ya know–so let’s leave those Manicheist characterizations at the door!

        OK the tone is snarky and hurt y/our feelings. Sometimes truth hurts. The productive question is what do you take away from it and what do you do with it?

        • Yes it was a global statement...

          …and I’m glad your friend decided to pursue this path. I remember during the peek of Occupy activity many seemed to reject the outreach by politicians and party activists. I just wish more would have translated their Occupy activities into political involvement.

          • Let me ask:

            What did you do to reach out and connect with occupy/iers to translate that work? To make alliances and build trust and common cause?

            What did others do? Did the DTCs send donations, or people to rally? Did you go down and chat with folks and make one-on-one connections and follow thru?

            I mean, yes, there was a completely understandable anxiety about being co-opted by “Official Channels” — so there are other ways to build trust. Right? Just saying, “You should come to our meetings because we do it the right way” is for sure going to be met with resistance, and so is a bad strategy.

            And giving up on that rich vein of energy and activism and commitment because of an initial rebuff seems, again, against our longer term interests to have a vital party that truly is focused on the issues of the 99% (which is a large part of what we care about as Democrats…right? ???)

            • I personally was not in a position to do much...

              …but I believe BMGer Amberpaw did some work with them. We haven’t heard from her in awhile, and I hope things are well with her, but maybe she has some insight. She is also a DSC members.

              • More rhetorically

                Right, so if we aren’t doing outreaches, how can we expect that they’ll see the wisdom of our ways?

                I’d argue that the fact that Occupy did take off as it does shows that the process as is does NOT seem viable to a big set of activisty people who otherwise share our values (more Robins) — or they didn’t know how to get involved in that way, or weren’t ever asked to get involved, etc.

                We DO want them to ally with us…right? (I do!) That means we ally with them where we have common cause. Two way street.

                • My perspective might be totally skewed

                  since I’ve known about caucuses since forever. But the minute I got involved with election activities in my current community multiple people from the DTC reached out, invited me to join, encouraged me to come to the caucus.

                  I myself posted about the impending caucus season in January. It was front-paged here. There were periodic updates on BMG about them. Same thing in 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006…

                  David S. Bernstein had several articles.

                  Deval Patrick, of course, made his big splash at the 2006 caucuses. For those whose memories of local politics don’t go back that far, a big deal was made when Elizabeth Warren got 96% at the convention in 2012 and DiFranco didn’t like it. This was in the Globe repeatedly, covered on Twitter by all the local political media folks, etc. I’m just having a hard time understanding how someone’s a committed activist following the Massachusetts political scene and hasn’t heard of the caucuses.

                  But it seems the phenomenon exists. So (even though next year’s convention won’t be nearly as important) I’ll pledge to write up, myself, an honest (bad food, long waits, the whole shebang) walk-through of the process from caucus to convention next January. I’ll post it here. I’ll tweet it. I’ll ask you and Robin and all the people with a million (give or take 998,000) young local activist followers to tweet it. It will help get the word out.

                  Then people have to tolerate the calls from campaigns, bad food, long waits, etc. That’s their end of the deal.

                  • It's the bubble

                    There are a million ways to be an activist and plugged in politically that don’t involve going to DTC meetings. I organized much of Needham/area for Obama without knowing what a DTC is. ::shrug:: And when I was invited to come to a meeting late in fall, I was really unclear/confused about what its function was and how I would fit in. SO I did what I’d been doing for a few months: Urged people to canvass in NH and sign up for carpools.

                    Yes, you need to consider outside your own experience. OBVIOUSLY “we” (party) are not involving the vast majority of people. Unless all of the Democrats are mostly 60+. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE the older people. They’re smart and experienced. But they are not the future and I was born in the early 70s and I’m the YOUNGEST PERSON IN THE ROOM. Yet, everyone I know and ever knew in Mass. self-identifies as a Democrat, or an “independent” who has never voted for a Republican.

                    Why aren’t all those people familiar and aware? They should be. Meetings should be crowded, caucuses should be SRO. And primaries should have 90% turnout. But those things aren’t happening. There are people not coming into the process.

                    And I agree 100% that there’s been a lot of trying (all the tweets and blog posts and Bernsteining when he’s not Hot or Notting). All inside the bubble of people who are already paying attention.

                    It’s not a “blame” or “fault” thing, so much as a, let’s assess and do something about it.

                    • Here's my problem

                      It’s just not that hard, IMO, to get inside the “bubble.” Based on what I’ve seen I’m not sure I blame the DTC for the under-30 crowd’s failure to get involved with it.

                      A big part of it seems to be the “Bowling Alone” phenomenon. The 60+ people grew up in a world where their parents were involved in community groups and bridge clubs and the like. It was normal to join things. People my age not so much. And it’s not just political parties. It’s groups of any kind that require time commitment in a cynical era of constant distractions, long work hours and tight household budgets, what have you. I can’t even get people under 40 over for dinner at my house. My grandparents had card games every Friday and dinner parties every Sunday.

                      I don’t know what to do about that much larger cultural phenomenon. We can publicize the meetings, but there were things in that article that make me think some people just aren’t going to enjoy coming to them.

                    • I think that we disagree.

                      I see a large contingent of the population frustrated and wanting change and they’re NOT working in the party, and I don’t blame them for not wanting to be: people can be mocking, derisive, sneering and unwelcoming and it’s confusing and opaque. Why would anyone want to be in THAT bubble any more than you want to be in the drum circle?

                      You seem to be OK with that: if they want in the bubble, then kick in the door and sit in here in our bubble; not my job to expand or break the bubble; that’s YOUR responsibility.

                      I am not OK with that.

                    • Where are you getting that from?

                      Just when I thought we were making progress here…

                      Name one instance when someone tried to get involved in the Massachusetts Democratic Party and the reception was “mocking, derisive, sneering and unwelcoming?” I was derisive on this thread because the article was itself “mocking, derisive, and sneering” and I found the points it made juvenile and largely unfounded. And I apologized for the tone later. I don’t know anyone who’s derisive when someone shows up for a meeting.

                      It seems that, by your definition, anywhere that anyone might actually find the information is “inside the bubble.” What is this bubble? Who needs to kick in the doors? They’re not closed. You talk about having to kick down the door yourself and force your way in, then say someone invited you to a DTC meeting. Doesn’t sound closed or sneering to me. You’ve never been and you don’t know what it’s about. So you go and find out. Not complicated. Even Robin wrote that “being a delegate is hardly a big deal. Anyone who survives the tedious process –and who has $75 – is free to participate.”

                      In the meantime, the party has a website. The caucuses were covered in the press. They were covered on this website. Anyone who Googles “Massachusetts Democrats” can find any of that. The top result is the state party, with “convention,” “caucus,” “towns and wards,” and “contact us” visible without even needing to click through. People can issue 1,000 tweets a day but can’t do a Google search? I guess the internet has changed.

                      The assumption is that the state party needs to “do something” to make itself more palatable. I’m all for better advertising of the caucuses, more outreach. But if I read the piece, the “something” we should do is to not have caucuses or a convention. Because it might be on a day when some people have to work (is there any day when nobody does?). Or it might, every twelve years, take a long time and feature crappy arena food instead of home-cooked delicacies delivered lovingly. Or the bathrooms might smell. Or some people there might not have the right hairstyle. Or candidates might call you (I let it go to voicemail and generally ignore it). Or caucuses suck, but it sucks equally that some people might be able to skip the caucus and be elected as add-ons (note that preference is given to those who attended the caucus and ran for delegate).

                      Because the piece is not about someone who had to force her way in. It’s about someone who came, and saw, and got elected delegate at her first caucus, and found the whole thing lame and doesn’t want to do it anymore. What steps should be taken to address that?

                    • The last paragraph is the key thing.

                      Maybe I’m simply not understanding your point about access and welcoming. Again, I am not blaming or accusing The Party or anyone; rather I’m saying “We have lots of room to improve; here’s one case study. Are we content to let committed activists walk away after giving it a really good go? Or is there something different we can do?”

                      If I were Robin and I’m reading this thread, I’d feel like this is a pretty hostile and unwelcoming and snarky and sneering space to enter; you’ve backed off of that, and that’s great, but it’s still out there — it’s not just you, and it’s not just this thread. Just say “Occupy” — or “hippie” or “young” and the disdain comes oozing out pretty quick.

                      If I were an Occupier and someone in the Proper Channels lectured me about how I’m doing it all wrong, I’d not want to go to your next meeting, thank you very much.

                      Yes, there was a snarky tone to the piece, so everyone gets their backs up and snarks back. Maybe it’s human nature, but wouldn’t it be better to suck it up a little and take the oppo to gain from the honest assessment from one “outsider’s” point of view and find the elements of truth in it that help point the way to Doing Better? You’re open to that — great! It’s a larger conversation that involves more than you, more than the people on this thread, and more than a one answer solution.

                      EVERYthing can always be done better. And politics and organized political parties HAVE to (imo) be done better.

                      So, yes, the key question IS this:

                      It’s about someone who came, and saw, and got elected delegate at her first caucus, and found the whole thing lame and doesn’t want to do it anymore. What steps should be taken to address that?

                      That’s my question too.
                      What do you think an answer is?

                    • BMG is not the MDP

                      A website like this, most of the time, is inherently more confrontational than a face-to-face meeting. Sometimes I think that’s unfortunate. Most of the time I think – despite the tedium of some of the sniping – that it’s actually a good thing that people have an outlet to air (and other people get to read) what they really think.

                      If Robin thinks this thread is hostile, she probably won’t like it here much. There are threads like this quite often. And forget about, say, Daily Kos. But I don’t see any in-your-face hostility at actual MDP functions. People disagree on things, but that’s gonna happen when you’re trying to affect the world around you.

                      There is just as much hostility coming from people who identify with Occupy but not with the Democrats. It’s humorous for me to be called an insider, a Proper Channel, whatever. But some activist people, I read the Twitter feed or whatever, I feel like I come from a different planet. At one time I might have agreed with them more. But the U.S. Congress, the Massachusetts General Court, and the Democratic Party have been around for over 200 years each. I think it’s best to work within the party while reserving some ability to work outside it. Not least because refusing to work within it leaves the territory – and access to the very real power of government – to actual “zombie neoliberal sycophants.”

                      I asked you the question – What steps should be taken to address that? – because you seem to feel more strongly that there’s a problem, and I know you won’t like my answer. Which is that people should stop being prima donnas and realize that not every political meeting is going to be fun. If people really don’t like the DTC meetings or the caucus/convention process, there are still plenty of candidates to canvass or phonebank for, which is perhaps a more essential and effective way of participating in the system of “party politics.”

                    • I'm sorry that has been your experience.

                      You will find many DTCs to be very welcoming.

                    • Here's my problem

                      I’m not sure I blame the DTC for the under-30 crowd’s failure to get involved with it.

                      I don’t blame the DTC either. If greying out the population and being ok with not attracting and keeping excellent activists is working for the Democrats, then the plan is working!

                      A big part of it seems to be the “Bowling …

                      Again, if it’s a generational-cultural issue, and we’re OK with how it’s working, then whaddyagonnado? Move on. But if it’s a cultural-generational issue, then we ought to figure that shit out, because the Party’s ranks will age out unless we do otherwise.

                      There’ll always be activist, active, engaged and impassioned Youth. The question is whether they are actively being sought and engaged with in the Party. The alternatives are many.

                    • I kind of agree with Harmony here

                      It’s more of the party’s problem, that we aren’t meeting the needs of younger activists. If we were a business, we would instantly recognize this as a major problem. We haven’t moved into the Internet era.

                      That said, there is nothing more accessible than a town committee; meetings are open, and every town chair is listed on the MassDems website. So people who want to change this have access to the levers.

                      And by the way, I encountered sneering and derision on my former town committee, but I laughed at it because I bleed blue. For someone who’s expecting a welcoming atmosphere, it’s not (not universally anyway).

                      But, town committees are often moribund too. The Patrick forces made an effort to revive them in the early days, with mixed results.

                    • Answer me something

                      If we were a business, we would instantly recognize this as a major problem. We haven’t moved into the Internet era.

                      How do we “move into the Internet era?”

                      And we’re not a business. A business competes against anyone who comes along. We compete essentially against the Republicans, who are doing even worse at bringing younger citizens in. Non-party groups may pop up that are more appealing to activists. Limited impact. Unless our constitutional system itself disappears, we will have elected officials taking actions that affect every aspect of our lives. We will have two major parties. We have since 1789 except a brief window that didn’t work. Only twice, in our history, a major party has ceased to exist. Not since the 1850s.

                      People born after, say, 1980 can be as uninvolved with the Democratic Party as they like. It – or some political party similar to it – will continue to exist and hold major power in this nation. They ignore that at their peril. I say this not as smug insider but as a clear-eyed observer of history.

                      That’s not to say the party need not evolve at all. But I’d like to know what – beyond better public outreach and improving on the (unusual) vote-counting problems of this year’s convention – we should do to meet the needs of younger activists as those needs were expressed in that article?

                      And by the way, I encountered sneering and derision on my former town committee, but I laughed at it because I bleed blue. For someone who’s expecting a welcoming atmosphere, it’s not (not universally anyway).

                      Sorry for it. Again, not my experience at all. But if there’s a really crappy cabal running things into the ground, oust them. Top 35 vote getters every four years are in. Organize a slate, get people to vote for it, win. That’s politics.

                    • I think we disagree.

                      Not on most of it, just on whether or not we think it’s a problem.

                      It’s useless to talk about “what should be done” because you don’t think anything should be done.

                      I’ll keep doing what I do, make outreaches and alliances, join in good faith and common cause with others, build relationships, learn more about different processes and figure out the best path towards effecting the kinds of changes I’m interested in. Sometimes it’s the Party and in the end it might not be the Party. I’ll keep organizing on the issues I care about, and I’ll needle and bring along new folks, show up at certain places and times that are critical, like caucuses and conventions, where we can move the needle. I’m just me; I’m doing what I can, but I don’t do it for the Party, I do it for the results and long-term goals. I’m just one person though

                    • Just gonna address the last point

                      On this –

                      Top 35 vote getters every four years are in. Organize a slate, get people to vote for it, win.

                      Why? I mean, I get what you’re saying, but why take over a town committee? What would you do with it then? That’s one issue: they don’t have a serious purpose. So people who want change go to campaigns.

                      Come to think of it, this might be a more urgent problem. Because local committees COULD, for example, be valuable sounding boards for taken-for-granted activists.

                    • Any Democrat under 36...

                      …is welcome to join Young Democrats of Massachusetts. They have greatly expanded in the last few years throughout the state and not just a Boston-centric organization like it was when I first joined. It is also a great way to get involved and find information about things like this.

                    • I'm a big supporter of the Young Dems.

                      I think they’re doing terrific work, and I turn out when I can. I think MDP could take a page or two out of their book.

                    • My accessible town meeting

                      I frankly can’t figure out what my town’s DTC’s purpose is at all. During the years I was a member and attempted to get involved, it seemed mostly like a monthly talkfest — complete with scheduled speakers. The incredibly careful avoidance of anything resembling actual action seemed to be a result of the DTC trying to prevent any insurgent Democrats from replacing the many decades-long Democratic incumbents with which our town is by turns blessed and cursed.

                      Were there a clearer purpose, it might have been possible to mobilize people to achieve said purpose.

                      So it was accessible, but why would anyone care?

                    • My former TC did discuss outreach

                      But we had different ideas about it, and whenever we began to get energy around it, a campaign would distract us.

                      I actually didn’t mind the talkfest aspect of it, as the disagreements were often interesting, and bisected usual divides (age, time in town, and liberal/centrist). And they do represent a place where the local crank (I say that affectionately) can be heard even if they aren’t media-friendly.

                      But one issue here is that the people with real power, like legislators, don’t necessarily want powerful town committees. Just more work, unless they control them. So the “purpose” is usually the next campaign.

                      I live in a different town now, but would seriously hesitate before joining its (or any other) town committee. LIfe’s too short.

                    • great point JimC

                      The conflicting interest of the local elected and a grassroots dynamic DTC.

                      Has the ring of truth in my limited experience

                    • I spend much of my spare time trying to

                      get people active. As a selectman, I want informed people to turn out and vote at town meeting and the ballot box. I’ve made strides in terms of information. I started a blog for the select board. I started a Facebook group that now has 355 members, more than 5% of the electorate. If people have a comment or question, I’m there to answer it. Still turnout for town meeting is embarrassingly small and disappointingly gray.

                      I identify more with older rather than younger people, but it’s the older people who have the history and care to show up. There are some younger people by which I mean over 35, but most can’t be bothered. I’m afraid that they were socialized very differently than their grandparents; they see themselves as consumers rather than citizens.

                    • If it is a generational problem...

                      Then the Dem party as we imagine it will not survive another 20 years, because, well, the gray-hairs can’t do it forever. I’m fine with going with another organization if that’s what needs to happen. I’m surprised to hear so many people with such strong Party affiliation be OK with the greying away of the Democrats. Shocked actually!!

                    • It's worse for the Republicans.

                      An erstwhile Republican kid came to my house this spring with his nomination papers. He knows I’m a dirty hippie, but knew I’d sign his papers. He is running as a libertarian. Our RTC has even fewer interested people under 60.

                      I struggle with being an organizer and motivator. I’m not that outgoing. I prefer to write. I think the problems with Democrats finding interested young people is, as Fenway suggested, a problem with community in general. Something will arise whether it looks the today’s Dems or something different. We’ve seen the decay of organized labor, for example, but micro-unions and job actions are happening again.

                    • Yes, it's worse for the Republicans

                      But that shouldn’t mean we are resigned to the attrition of time and age. DOes it?

                      I’m with the Democrats because I’ve determined it’s *my* best opportunity to lean on the levers that produce legislation/policy. However, if the party isn’t interested in recruiting and re/vitalizing its ranks with new voices (whether old or young) and a new generation (the younger set), then I may have miscalculated. I know the blog and the individual voices aren’t the Party, but if BMGers’ more activisty voices (than, say, moribund DTCers — I know they’re not all that way; I’m defining the subset I’m talking about) are this disinterested or impatient with growing and revitalizing the ranks… it really surprises me and definitely causes me concern.

                      I’m not really directing this at you Mark, just at the sentiment that “Well we’re at least better than the Republicans” strain of thought, which is definitely true. WHat a low bar though!!!

                    • Not that far apart

                      I’m with the Democrats for the same reasons you articulate. As I wrote last night, also because I don’t think government by two parties is going away and declining participation in the Democrats just abandons the turf (even more) to corporatists.

                      I don’t think the MDP, especially since John Walsh, “isn’t interested in recruiting and re/vitalizing its ranks with new voices.” There are several major ways to get involved. The caucus/convention process is just one. It is important primarily if (1) you really want to get more deeply involved in the state party, interact with its people, affect its platform, and/or, more importantly, (2) you support a candidate who needs your help to get to 15 percent. Delegates like Robin did make a difference this year – Don Berwick would not be on the ballot without them. That alone should make some drudgery worth it.

                      My impatience is with people who find two meetings four months apart too tedious to bother. That, to me, is more about how those people prefer to operate than a major failing on the part of the Democratic Party. But there are wonderful, committed Democrats who do tremendous work and don’t like the caucus or convention. So be it. All I ask is they not identify this year’s rather exceptional convention as the sum total of working within the Democratic Party.

                      DTC is another possibility. Like I said, my experience with my local committee has been a good one. It’s enabled me to stay engaged, year-round, with a bunch of people who are doing good work. Some members were personally active in Occupy, many engage in other activism outside the party structure. I’ve built relationships and expanded my horizons. The committee skews older but recently has brought in several younger people. It was there for them to get active in, and they’ve done it.

                      If people don’t like their DTC, they can try to change it or not participate, as it their wont. There was a time when the local DTC or ward committee covered its turf for election purposes. Today, as Christopher points out, campaigns build their own structure and the overlap is far from perfect. That’s good in some ways; it avoids any shutting-out problems (back in the 40s there was the guy who showed up at ward Dem HQ wanting to volunteer – they asked, “Who sent you?” He said, “Nobody sent me. I just want to help elect Democrats.” They said, “We don’t want somebody that nobody sent.”). But it is largely responsible for the current feeling that many DTCs don’t have a clearly defined mission.

                      If DTC’s not your thing, there also are groups like Young Dems, Stonewall Dems, or the new Latino Caucus for people who care about the issues affecting those groups in particular.

                      Finally, and perhaps most important of all, are the campaigns. People who think the convention sucks and their DTC’s stuck in the mud can surely canvass for candidates, or help get a good candidate (a Dylan Hayre, for example) off the ground. Just a little grassroots power can make a big difference in a local or state rep race. I just don’t think it’s helpful to label, publicly and negatively, the entire concept of working to promote the Democratic Party because, say, the DTU Center food is bad.

                      Sorry this is long but I wanted to be clear.

                    • "consumers rather than citizens"

                      That clause is as profound as anything that’s been said here in a long time. To be honest though, I don’t know as it’s different than it ever was, though. I grew up in the much-romanticized 1950′s. It was a time of keep your nose clean, sit down, shut up, and do as you’re told. And that’s just for white males. As for everyone else…

                      I think that the fact that many teachers historically have entered the profession hoping to educate their students to be citizens is, at bottom, one reason why public education is under such attack from the right.

                    • Agreed

                      I grew up with a ton of politically active friends, who liked going to protests, organizing boycotts, and the like, but mocked me for being on the Cambridge School Committee as a student member. But that is how I met local officials, that is how I made contacts, that is how I made our grading policy fairer, they could protest the war all the want-who got the recruiters kicked out of the career fair-me and Marc McGovern and Luc Schuster by working it out with the school administration and getting the motion passed. I also successfully lobbied to get the Cambridge City Council to lower the voting age, and even testified in it’s favor at the State House during the summer when those same friends that mocked me were dazed and confused all summer. Which is fine, that is their right, but I honestly didn’t understand how someone who protested the war and got arrested for it during the GOP convention simply refuse to vote.

                      They didn’t have to vote for Kerry-it was MA, but vote. And I actually agree with the older people on this thread who lament the lack of civic involvement, I was the only person under 30 who showed up for Democratic primaries at my ward in Cambridge, hardly an apolitical community I might add. I think Brown winning woke a lot of those friends up to the dangers of staying home, and I am excited to see many of those same friends do a lot of work for Nadeem and other councilors, run for office, pass petitions, and get involved. But apathy and cynicism are not the mark of the educated, while civic participation is the mark of the naive-it’s the other way around in my book.

                    • That's a big problem IMO.

                      It amazes me how small the overlapping portion of the Venn Diagram is sometimes where one side is DTC members and the other is campaign volunteers. In a perfect world volunteers on campaigns would be invited to become associate members of their DTCs and those already on DTCs would be the first in line to volunteer for campaigns.

                    • One of the things I admire about

                      Harmony here and activists in general is their often unbridled hope. I’m not like that. I’ve gone from cynic to realist (not intended to indicate superiority) and am still working on the idealist part, which I think is essential to leadership and activism. People can’t be inspired without hope, can’t excel without a dream.

                      From my realist perspective (by which I mean looking at what is and can pragmatically think could happen), I step back and wonder if the decay of party membership will eventually morph into something else that is as good. Who knows, maybe if the Big Two shrink enough, smaller parties will develop as in Europe). I don’t know if what we have can be saved. I’m thankful for people like Harmony who don’t see things from my perspective.

                    • A stubborn cynical-realist-idealist

                      ^is how I describe myself. The thing that mobilizes me is the despair I’d feel if I gave up. All we can do is our own little bit. #itsnotenough #itsallwecando #shutupWuTuesdayiselectionday

                • My recommendation to post-Occupiers

                  I agree with a large swath of opinions that came from the various Occupy movements. However, the groups never really figured out how to stop being esoteric and start achieving. My suggestion is that if groups are still meeting they identify concrete things they want built/done at the local level and then figure out zoning, ordinances and the like to make it happen. Actually be grassroots and transform places like Framingham and Weymouth and Lowell. Then you can build a coalition around, “We did this stuff and it works.” Tackling income inequality and multinationals sounds great, but I’d be a whole more surgical and focus at the immediate local level.

  10. So tell me how exactly does she propose ...

    … to elect progressive leaders: a) by wishing, b) by hoping, c) by living in a park for a few months? I appreciate the fact that the occupiers brought attention to important issues the media ignores, but it’s time for these good folks to grow up, get serious, and get on with the hard work of electing leaders who will effect change!

    • Do you think

      we would have elected Elizabeth Warren if people hadn’t lived “in a park for a few months”?

      I don’t.

      Rather than say, Haw haw see how silly those kidz are, I suggest asking, Are we doing everything we can to realize the goals that Occupy put on the table?

      • And, to integrate/involve the passionate activists mobilized by Occupy?

        It’s easy to disdain Occupy/iers for naivete and irritating practices.

        Yes, let’s allow that: Occupy/iers were/are/can be naive and irritating!


        But you still MUST recognize that Occupy galvanized an impressive number of people to CARE and to DO SOMETHING and GET INVOLVED. The whats and hows may be criticized — maybe the 1%/99% isn’t what you think is important; maybe GAs are not your thing.


        What would YOU have these committed, impassioned people do to join in on our shared purposes/common causes (as progressives/liberals)? Having answered that — how would/will you get them from Occupy to Where You Want Them?

        It’s really easy to dismiss Occupy/iers. But that seems really short-sighted.

        The author, Robin (full disclosure: she is my friend and ally whom I met thru her twitter activism after Occupy), DID WHAT WE ASKED HER TO — she tried to do things the way “we” (writ large) asked her to, and she left not wanting to go back. That’s OUR failure, isn’t it?

        • To me it would have been utterly predictable. Some people like activism mainly when it’s heady and fun. That’s not “our” failure.

          What would I have them do? I’d have all of them working their asses off in the electoral process. Federal. State. Local. Starting at the caucuses. I’d have them visiting legislators on Beacon Hill frequently. Spreading the word on social and other media (which many of them do). And rallying in a park or the streets when it’s the best tactic.

          I would not have them mock the entire process by which the only remotely progressive party in this Commonwealth goes about winning elections because it’s insufficiently cool. You want to change laws and policies, deal with those who make them.

          And I would not have them pigeonhole Democratic activists because of how they dress. It is possible to be as left as them without wearing the “uniform.”

          • She did those things you ask for.

            She’s done ALL those things. She learned about the caucuses. She made the outreaches she needed to to get elected. She went to the meetings, she took the phone calls. She applied for the waivers, she took the days off. She went to Worcester, she stayed all day. She advocated for others to join in. She worked on ballot petitions for Raise Up. Check check check and check.


            A less than thrilling experience (“democracy is tedious!” Yes I get it; it’s not just the process…), and felt stymied and ready to bail many times. A different person would have given up.

            Without changing the byzantine, confusing and opaque culture, this can/will/does happen over/over again with people who are less stubborn than she is (or I am; my road into party organizing was similarly frustrating, and I think a sane person would have concluded: “why bother?”). The larger picture for the Dem party is not “She was mean to us!” but “We are shutting out the very people we need to rebuild a movement.” That should worry us. I say let’s swallow some pride and talk about how we fix it and you know, make some changes. Tough love.

            • "A different person would given up."

              And another different person wouldn’t have dreamed of giving up. She did ALL those things ONCE and now is filled with regret. From what I read she shut herself out by going in cynical and making a big deal out of nothing. To me, starting from the baseline that elected officials make the laws so it’s important, that is being easily deterred.

              People have different perspectives. I don’t consider the system it opaque or byzantine in the least. The convention this year was unusual. Vote counting was a drag. Many candidates, four open offices. Hasn’t happened since 2002, probably won’t for years to come. The technology didn’t work right.

              The rest of this stuff? Big shock – at a political convention people walk the aisles and shake hands. The food is always going to suck. It’s one day a year. I don’t know how it could be otherwise unless they have it somewhere that’s not an arena. And at least half the delegates didn’t go Friday either.

              • I don't know, Fenway.

                I’m still a DTC/Party activist newbie. And I’m routinely the youngest in the room and I ain’t that young. *I* have brought people into the process. But I haven’t seen too many new faces that I didn’t personally bring along with me (not sayign it doesn’t happen, just in the aggregate).

                I cannot accept that the party faithfuls who go to caucus, convention are THE SUM TOTAL of People who should/could/would be an asset to the party if only we had a better way of reaching out, including and involving.

                Maybe your Party experiences are better, but I don’t think my party experiences are dramatically uncommon.

                • Whose fault is that?

                  Is the question. My experience has been a little better. I’ve never seen anyone who wanted to get involved turned away. My experience also has been of banging my head against the wall just trying to get people I know between 18 to 40 even to VOTE, let alone join the DTC. I’m not surprised they’re in short supply there.

                  People want to see opaque and unwelcoming, try getting involved with the Democratic Party in New York. For all the warts, the Mass. Dems are about as good as it gets in this country.

                  • I don't know whose fault that is.

                    As a stubborn person who’s shoved my in thru the door and chose to tolerate feeling stupid and out of place for a while, I’m now part of the party fold, and as part of the Party fold, I think it’s incumbent on me (and all of us) to change it.

                    So whoever’s fault it is, isn’t it all of our responsibility?

                • I'm often the youngest in the room as well

                  And I’m the chair. And I’ve now aged out of YDM, so I guess I’m officially old.

                  John Walsh once told us that if you’re a DTC chair and you’re complaining that no one comes to meetings, then step 1 is to have better meetings. I try, but it is hard to have meetings that have an interesting speaker, take care of committee business & are short enough that people stay. Basically, I’ve found you can pick at most two of those.

                  And I’m not “okay” with the graying of the party (or, frankly the graying of myself!). I agree with most of the points you’re bringing up — but just as you might think that it’s hard to break into a committee, committees often find it hard to attract and (especially) retain new members. I’d like to think I run a very welcoming committee and a fair if not always efficient caucus, but it’s hard to get on people’s radar.

                  But DTCs are not the sum total of the party. When you look at campaigns, you see the youth that the committees are missing.

                  • I appreciate this:

                    Good point/corrective that DTCs themselves are not the sum total of party… I guess, though, my experience has been that campaigns/volunteers are NOT at all integrated or identified with The Party. Maybe my experiences are totally unique here; I don’t know. (I know I heard a lot of complaining from campaign vols in 2008, my first effort, about working with local committees and party channels). I’m just thinking out loud here.
                    That is difficult to (shorthanding it) “run an interesting meeting” — Meetings aren’t exactly high on anyone’s list of Fun or “Things to Add to My Life.”

                    I guess one way is to imagine “participation” in DTC as something wider — campaign activity (obviously/referencing above), service drives, signature drives (Raise Up eg) and so on. (Let me add: I KNOW that many Committees already do this.)

                    I Know the response is “So take over the committee!!” but this misses the reality/point: Committees have much more to gain from expanding the circle and revitalizing the ranks than, say, the active volunteers and activists that are doing good work, thank you very much, outside of the party label, yknow?

                    • I don't think anyone at BMG would disagree with you

                      Committees have much more to gain from expanding the circle and revitalizing the ranks

                      I would wager that most of us BMG long-timers would agree, and have been trying to do this. Many of us who are involved in our DTCs & Ward Committees got our start through a campaign, be it Kerry in 2004 or Deval in 2006, or Warren last cycle. So, I think most of the pushback you are getting here is more of a defensive nature from folks who are trying their best.

                      Your experience is not unique. I know there are a lot of committees where they keep their membership as closed as possible to keep their seats at the caucus or make sure the committee endorses the “right” people or whatever. I think those folks are doing the Party a disservice.

                      That said, even when committees are doing the right things, it is still hard to attract and keep new people.

            • Fair and unfair

              I think she was unfair to a group of similarly committed activists who have been to dozens of these events. It’s pretty hard to take an outsider asking to shake the whole process up to suit her personal, and I might add, somewhat individual experiences and expectations that several committed veterans have spent decades building up.

              Of course, she brought up a lot of valid critiques and easy wins, I just think she could have done so in a way that wasn’t jaded, cynical, snarky, or condescending to the people she was with. Mocking a Brockton working mom she actually got along with for the mascara dripping down her face might make for good Weekly Dig copy, but it doesn’t help the party.

              But definitely there was a lot of tone deaf behavior that offended her that should offend the rest of us. Holding it the same time as Pride is a massive snub to a loyal community that the party cannot afford to take for granted, and something that I am sure was totally unintended by the (likely) straight white male organizers of the event. Having an application fee to join what my grandpa called ‘the workingman’s party’ is an affront to the values we stand for, particularly since it is definitely out of the reach of most college and post-college individuals not to mention working parents. Having child care on site, as Cambridge does at it’s caucuses, would be an improvement. Ensuring disability access, ensuring public transit access, and making the ease of signing up and getting on board to organize easier are all easy wins in my book, and changes we should be making to broaden the party. There was a way to make those changes without taking cheap shots, and I wish for her sake as well as our party’s that she hadn’t.

              • I don't think she was mocking

                The Brockton mom at all. I thought she was commiserating. It was another example of what torture the convention was. Melodramatic IMO.

                • Either way

                  A detail I remember far more than any reforms or changes she proposed to make the process better, since I don’t recall any.

                  • mascara

                    I just reskimmed and saw the mascara bit (which I didn’t remember). The thing that strikes ME from that passage is this:

                    She is also a first-timer, and feels both over- and under-whelmed by the weekend… It’s clear that she had dressed to impress, but by this point in the long day, her black eyeliner is creeping down a few millimeters, and her curls are frizzing up.
                    She missed a day of work for this, hired babysitters. She’s certain that she won’t make it home on time, because everything is running so far behind schedule. She tells me that she’ll never do this again, and is on the verge of anger and tears.

                    “She’ll never do this again” — another (non-occupier) newbie turned off by the process. THIS, to me, is THE key takeaway that should prompt Powers That Be reflection. (That’s happening here; I hope it trickles out and up and through)

                    • Further reflection (mascara part 2, "god forbid politics be boring" part X)

                      I think I’m coming to a conclusion …
                      One of the problems Robin’s piece demonstrates is the problem of Expectations. Robin and the mom from Brockton clearly had some idea about what they were in for, but not REALLY. Which brings me back to (Hey christopher!) more resources about “Caucuses and Conventions: What’s the GOal and What to Expect” — in accessible, digestible language — from MassDems page.

                      Kate and BMG regulars I know do a great job on that with pre-Convention guides and checklists. Can the essence of that wisdom and Expectations be boiled into a appropriate webpage of resources?

                      If you KNOW what to expect (“politics is boring!”), it’s less maddening when it comes true. (And the Mom from Brockton example shows there are real pocketbook — and family/life — issues at stake for many many people).

                      The official resources are very thorough and detailed on process and maps and so on, but the narrative gestalt is missing; I personally think that would be wonderful add to the materials on MassDems (christopher!).

                      (jcon — you’ve persuasively pointed these “we must do better” pieces out elsewhere; I want to acknowledge that).

                    • Be careful asking Christopher to define expectations

                      He’s the one who thought the convention would be over by suppertime, even with a second ballot.

                      (I kid because I care!)

                    • So did I

                      So did I. But ya gotta roll with it.

                      No love for the candidates who spared us the second ballot? Shout out to Coakley (who benefited), Lake and Kerrigan, Goldberg and Conroy.

                    • Much Love

                      But I think that was mostly out of self-preservation. I’d have grabbed a pitchfork and torch myself if any of them had forced a 2nd ballot.

                    • So that's what it takes?

                      I’d have grabbed a pitchfork and torch myself if any of them had forced a 2nd ballot.

                      I’ve been waiting for the pitchforks and torches.

                      Elizabeth Warren should sign a few thousand folks up for boring marathon Senate sessions and tell them they can’t leave until really good legislation passes. Then tell Reid and McConnell that the pitchforks and torches are coming unless the bill gets through. It might work.

                    • They take your phone, writing utensils, food, water...

                      I’m with ya!! I’ve recently been to the Senate and House galleries and they do their best to make sure you don’t stay very long. They disallow any writing (that’s right, *writing* is not allowed) and on the House side they confiscate your phone and cameras; I am pretty sure they’re not allowed to be used on Senate side tho they do not confiscate them. No food, no water…

                      So, if this plan is to work, please prep attendees that they should be prepared to take a nap because that’s about all they’ll be able to do.

                    • OK, so I had supper a little late that night -

                      - as I recall it was still daylight at adjournment through being close to the solistice helps:)

                    • But we have to distinguish

                      what annoyances are inherent in ANY Dem convention with the particular challenges that affected THIS convention in 2014. Not since 2002 has it been such a mess. It’s like preparing people for a four-hour drive for New York but not preparing them for a 10-hour holiday-weekend, construction-everywhere, three-major-accidents drive to New York.

                      For someone who’s only been to the 2014 convention it’s easy to think they always suck that bad. Next year’s will be a breeze.

                    • I think more resources are good.

                      I know I’ve made comments here and elsewhere that may sound like a defensive, “But we DO…”, but I’m also making mental notes. One thing that others mentioned to me is that delegates who attended trainings were in fact better prepared for what to expect than those who did not. One thing right off the bat that every delegate should assume is if you go to convention that is the ONLY thing on your agenda that day. Be prepared to not cook supper for your family. Make sure your baby/dog sitter can stay into the evening, etc.

                    • The 'why' is never addressed in a productive way

                      And again, I want this dialogue, I think it’s actually been constructive and we aren’t that far apart. But there is a way to productively conduct it without talking past one another. I see the article being quite dismissive-and Charley agrees-of the hard work and genuine faith involved with being a committed member of our party and working the process from the inside to effect progressive change. We have an Occupier as our Senior Senator. That is a major accomplishment-and it could have only occurred from inside and outside activism congealing around a single candidate with a single vision.

                      During elections like this one, where the dynamic candidates like a Warren or a Patrick are not there, it’s just as incumbent on us to work with candidates that agree with our goals from within and from without.

                      I think it is wrong for us to say ‘those woman are wusses’ and dismiss their concerns, asking why they were angry and tearful is incredibly important. I don’t see the author doing that, whether her feelings were still too raw or the Dig slanted it a different way than her intent, I see her saying ‘this process made me angry and sad-I’m out’.

                      Well I am not saying, ‘don’t let the door kick you on the way out’, I am asking why, and in doing so, I want us to make concrete changes that open up the party and make the experience easier. But I also do not believe the party-whose main goal is to win elections and get it’s candidates elected-can or should be transformed into an organic community like Occupy. The goal is to win elections, and that requires deliberation, debates, and a process. Some of that is painful-some of that is exciting to nerds like us but maybe not to working moms or radical agitators (and I totally appreciate that as a positive term)-but there are areas where their expectations might not be realistically met.

                      Let’s open the door to dialogue, I think this article did that, and I hope your friend and other Occupiers can genuinely come to the table and join us in common cause. It requires meeting in the middle-not dismissing the process entirely.

      • With all due respect trickle up

        we would have elected Elizabeth Warren if people hadn’t lived “in a park for a few months”?

        I don’t.

        I called people for Warren, I donated money to Warren (only time I’ve ever given to a candidate I might add), and I got friends to give time to Warren. I did this from Chicago, IL where I was too busy holding down two soul crushing jobs to waste my time smoking pot in a park and playing in a drum circle.

        Plenty of blue collar union activists, plenty of seniors, and plenty of people who aren’t part of that community worked hard as well. I am not dismissing Occupy, but I am dismissing the idea that they were the only enlightened ones who made an impact.

        • You're not dismissing?

          “I am not dismissing Occupy”

          “I was too busy holding down two soul crushing jobs to waste my time smoking pot in a park and playing in a drum circle”

          Yeah, you kind of are dismissing it, and poorly too. I was involved with Occupy for several months and managed to never smoke pot in a park or play in a drum circle. I was far from alone.

          Occupy did not make Warren a candidate, nor did it make her the person that she is or the candidate that she is, but it DID do an enormous service to her candidacy (and more generally) by bringing the conversation of income inequality and the nearly impossible climb out of debt and poverty to dinner tables across the nation.

          When I was talking and working with really promising people during Occupy, I would talk to them about my beliefs, which include immersing yourself in the system and changing it from within. That’s why I am also an active member of the party and a delegate.

          I want to bring smart people like Robin into the fold, and this drum circle and pot smoking narrative coming from other Dems is really unhelpful when doing that.

          • Fair enough

            My point is, we share a common goal and a common foe, and you have working people on this site who have been to decades worth of caucuses and conventions scoffing at the snarky and dismissive tone of the Dig piece. Naturally in a defensive posture we will dismiss people who try to dismiss us.

            I will take the hit for dismissing Occupy at various points, but my criticism of both processes stand. We are throwing stones at one anothers glass houses. The caucuses should be better known, more inclusive, more open, and better organized so that a more diverse cross section of people can participate and so participating is easy, making participation as ‘fun’ or ‘soul changing’ as Occupy might be a bit of a stretch-but we can certainly make it easier for anyone to come. Easy wins-like not scheduling it the weekend of Pride, waiving the fee, and holding it in a more accessible location from a disability and public transit standpoint should definitely happen by the next caucus. Making it better known, better attended, and recruiting a younger and more diverse will take longer but is also worth it.

            And I would argue taking non-partisan grassroots movements like Occupy and focusing them, channeling them, and directing them towards specific policy goals is also essential. The country needs change, and it needs it from within the system-it’s legislatures and at least one of it’s major parties-and from without. The Freedom Slate was right to challenge LBJ when it did, the anti-war movement was right to challenge liberalism on it’s support of an unjust and unwinnable war. The womens’ and gay rights movements needed outside successes before they could credibly lobby a party. I get that. But we can work together, and that requires understanding and being honest about the strengths and weaknesses of both methods and systems.

          • I was on to income inequality

            20 years ago. Occupy or no Occupy, it was coming on the radar due to the horrific acceleration since the 2008 crash. The media coverage of the movement (which, believe me, I know was unfair) may have hurt the cause in middle America by making it seem like the cause of a neo-hippie fringe. In the meantime the Tea Party took over the House for a decade.

            • Well

              making it seem like the cause of a neo-hippie fringe

              When the author makes Dewey square out to be the Burning Man of the East, it doesn’t help. I never got the human megaphone, or the point of the GA. Protest a bad policy, no need to set up tents and pretend to create a direct democracy on public property other people have a right to use. I know a ton of clergy who got strongly involved with the event, Moral Monday in North Carolina came out of it, a lot of people recovering foreclosed homes, a lot of the great CTU organizers were trained at Occupy and were able to use similar tactics to beat back Rahm during the strike. So there is a ton of good that came out of it, but also a lot of silly, just like the original SDS and hippie movement. Good goals, even some good means, and then, a other questionable means and sideshows. And one could easily say that about the official party and it’s caucuses too-which is why this dialogue is important, but also why it should be honest and respectful of the pitfalls of both.

          • Not to be an ass

            by bringing the conversation of income inequality and the nearly impossible climb out of debt and poverty to dinner tables across the nation.

            That was always the conversation at the dinner table in my union home with my working class, high school educated parents. That’s the conversation in thousands of union homes across the Midwest. It’s the conversation I have with my wife to be every day, as we have played by the rules and done everything we can to eek out a meager living. We couldn’t afford rent in the city, so we moved in with her parents. We couldn’t afford grad school at an elite institution (too busy paying off debt to the undergrad one!) so we are taking community college classes closer to home. I’ve taken on a second job for almost a year now to have a little bit of savings to cushion us, I only had benefits this year, and frankly, in my entire time since I graduated, We have had to delay our wedding for yet another year. We are frankly at the breaking point, and we just haven’t had the time, energy, or will to protest. And I shouldn’t be judged for that.

            I also shouldn’t judge people that have been to protests, many of them in similar straights as me, and I will apologize for that. But the author of the Dig post sounds like a pretentious, college educated, hipster who is bemoaning the party that gave her grandparents Social Security, gave her parents a college education, and is giving her health insurance through ACA as an old, out of touch, and elitist institution. And in many regards it is, but she also is guilty of making the same sweeping generalizations about the caucus that I did about Occupy. We are both wrong, and we are both right, about the flaws of our movements. I didn’t see her praise the successes of the Democrats, and the hard working people that elected Deval and Warren and are rebuilding this party and that struck me as a little tone deaf.

        • Thank you for working for Warren

          I did too.

          I’m not saying that doesn’t matter. I’m saying it does.

          But I believe Occupy made it possible. Political power for fundamental change trickles up, not down.

          Not by itself, which is why so much other political activity, advocacy and organizing and electoral and legal, can be decisive. But these things do not work in a vaccum either.

          • Agreed

            And you are a testament to your BMG handle for stating so. Just remember, it trickles up from the caucuses just as it does on the streets, and the author seemed to have forgotten that by implying one cause was righteous and full of democratic spirit while the other was entirely an exercise in futility. We need both, and I don’t there is anyone here who wishes Occupy hadn’t happen-but a lot of people that wish it lasted longer, did more, had more focus, and didn’t alienate those that didn’t participate.

            • Yes, both

              It’s not necessary for the more-grass-roots organizations and the more-within-the-system organizations to respect each other, but there is legitimate reason for them to do so.

              As for the shortcomings of Occupy: Sure, but there’s mass movements for you.

  11. Occupy was a great start

    I agree that the process of the Massachusetts Democratic Party is tedious, boring, dull, and at least in this election seems to be well on its way to producing AWFUL outcomes. That process surely needs fixing. I might choose a different set of complaints from the author of the cited piece, but the larger message is right on target.

    In my view, the energy tapped by the Occupy movement is a vital component of restoring Massachusetts to the vibrant beacon of civilization it once was (and not so long ago). I therefore welcome criticisms like this in order that we find ways to more effectively harvest the energy that produced Occupy.

    Occupy was a great start. It’s agenda is right on the mark, it had (and has) widespread popular support, and in my view is the only future that has a prayer of solving the enormous challenges that face Massachusetts.

    What Occupy did NOT do is create any sort of political action component. That, in my view, was its Achille’s heel. Without SOME form of political action, ANY movement like that is at best empty sentimentality and at worst nothing more than a circle-jerk.

    Gunpowder, when poured into a pile and lit with a match, simply burns — easily and brightly to be sure — but without significant effect. If WORK is to be done — drilling a hole in rock, firing a projectile, making a loud and entertaining “bang” — the gunpowder must be constrained in a container of some sort.

    The political process is that container for movements like Occupy.

    The Massachusetts Democratic Party desperately needs the grassroots energy tapped by the Occupy movement. I note that the Tea Party taps the same energy, though transmuting it into racism and xenophobia as it passes through the distortion field created by the big-money sponsors of the Tea Party. The Occupy movement desperately needs the political focus and effectiveness that the Massachusetts Democratic Party brings to the table.

    Each is a waste of time and energy without the other.

  12. Oh, the memories...

    college Dems in polo shirts and pearls who look “Kennedyesque;”

    Reminds me of what one of my friends said during my College Republican days: “College Republicans is the fantasy sports of under-25 politicos.”

  13. An overall comment

    I agree with stomv, trickle up, and Harmony who knows the activist author personally, that she brought an outside perspective to this process. I might be the youngest person who consistently posts here, and certainly the only high schooler who posted here back in 2006 when the site really started to hum. I was the youngest activist in Arlington and North Cambridge for Deval, the youngest person attending Dean meetups, and the youngest person who volunteered for Reich in my community. This is not to brag, just to point out that I know a lot more about politics and the process than most young voters, I am the guy Cambridge kids call to explain PR, including to some new candidates. And even I didn’t know what the caucuses were, how they worked, and how to join them until this year.

    We have to do more to make that information, there shouldn’t be a fee if we are the party of working people, we shouldn’t schedule it the week of Pride, and we should pick venues that are accessible to the disabled and in areas that working people could easily reach, without car, if need be. LGBTQ, minorities, and women should have designed delegate slots as they do at the DNC level and should be specifically recruited to get involved, along with activists who have worked outside the system. I get everything the author pointed out and think we definitely can and should encourage reforms.

    But I just hate the snarky way she went about writing it up, as if attending the caucus was lame, I really hated the line where she implied it took too long for young peoples attention spans-well sorry friend, government is hard, it is long, and it’s worth participating in. We are a party organized around principles and committed to working inside the system.

    I always get into arguments with my ex-hippie dad over 68′, I always tell him the hippies should have worked with Humphrey instead of undermining him and electing Nixon. The only way our coalition can work is if it brings in blue collars, seniors, committed party regulars, outside activists, and women and minorities together. That was the spirit of the people I worked with from a broad cross section of life on the Deval and Obama campaigns. I sincerely hope we can make our caucuses look like that, but, we definitely shouldn’t turn it into another burning man or drum circle either. Truly trying to change the system requires actual work, actual involvement, and serious time commitments. We should make it far easier to commit and to join, but to expect us to make that process entertaining or anarchic for the fuck of it is to expect way too much. She is comparing apples and oranges, both are fruit, but one requires you to peel back a few layers first.

    • About those hippies

      The hippies had a larger agenda, and we achieved it.

      Here’s an incomplete list of just some of things we achieved in 1968:

      1. We purged the Democratic Party of its explicit racism and racists
      2. We taught a generation of young people how to effectively counter unacceptable government behavior
      3. We made significant strides towards ending the war (in spite of Nixon)
      4. We showed America the depths of racism and absurdity in its judicial system. The trial of the Chicago 7 changed the course of history.

      • 5. We destroyed the New Deal coalition and condemned our children to a life of diminished opportunity by spawning the backlash that made Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Boehner/Cruz possible.

        Do you really want to claim credit for how the “course of history” has changed since 1968?

        • Necessary End: why the New Deal coalition had to go

          We didn’t destroy the New Deal coalition. That coalition was destroyed the moment Hubert Humphrey stood up at the 1948 Democratic Convention and forced the Dixiecrats to choose. No longer would the Democrats acquiesce indefinitely to Southern racism. It took us another 16 years to do the job, but we did it.

          And OF COURSE there was a price: all those solidly Democratic states on which we relied for decades were now going to be Republican strongholds. There was an offset: Republican New England became deep blue. Henry Cabot Lodge’s old chair now belongs to Elizabeth Warren. The political calculus was difficult for a while; it seemed to many that the Coming Democratic Majority would never come. But it’s here: we’ll hold the senate in 2014 or retake it in 2016; in 2024 we’ll have held the presidency for 16 years, Virginia will barely be a swing state and Colorado will be true blue. Michigan’s ours, Illinois is ours, and Wisconsin will come back to its senses.

          And, vitally, we’ll be winning because we’re right, not because we struck a deal with the confederate.

          The only way for the Democrats to avoid southern backlash would have required perpetual disenfranchisement and an indefinite domestic terror campaign against millions of American citizens — a world in which Ferguson was enacted daily from Charlotte to El Paso.

          So, yes: the New Deal coalition went. It had to go. In the emergency of 1932, in a senate where the segregationist South held a veto, Roosevelt accepted a corrupt bargain and saved the country. It was wrong, and even Truman knew that part of the deal had to be undone.

          • Right to work Michigan

            With a Tea Party governor and legislature, and a 9-5 GOP advantage in House seats, is ours?

            Illinois is ours? Tell Bruce Rauner.

            Yes, we’re fabulous on social issues (unless they involve the police or security state) but nowhere on economics. Obama wins a paradigm-shift kind of election and names Rahm, Geithner, and Summers. Now we’re looking at Hillary. I’m sure Wall Street is quaking in their boots.

          • Too simple

            It may not be fair to accuse anyone of “breaking” the New Deal coalition. It was always a bumblebee, which had almost no business getting off the ground in the first place. It existed only because 1932 was an emergency, and created an opportunity for FDR to work his very unique set of political skills.

            Civil rights was one huge issue that divided the coalition, for sure. But it wasn’t the only one, and it wasn’t in 1948 that the coalition ended.

            It sure seems to me that the emergence of the New Left in the 60s is what administered the coup de grace, because the New Left DEMONIZED much of what was the New Deal coalition, far more so than it ever did the right. Even though it would be hard to argue that the New Left’s goals, and achievements, were wrong, the manner in which the New Left achieved prominence in the Democratic party left most of the New Deal coalition feeling quite permanently alienated from the party.

            It isn’t really fair to blame that portion of the New Left that became influential members of the Democratic Party for this, as they were moderate in tone. But the tone of the radicals is what people remember, still. The paradox is that it is possible, or even likely that the radical New Left is what provided the energy to make the moderate’s achievements possible.

            But in the end, huge portions of the New Deal Coalition– organized labor, the blue collar “hard hat” worker, Catholics– were viewed by the New Left as the Establishment to be defeated rather than partners, and reacted accordingly.

            It is probably the case that the various achievements of the New Left in social equality– civil rights, equal rights (for women), and gay rights– could never have happened without the violent and vituperative rupture of the 60s. I think it was probably worth it, but I also think that the abandonment of the New Deal economic “Old Left” agenda was a deliberate and intentional trade-off.

            Various awkward Democratic efforts to “connect” with the formerly stalwart blue-collar set (Manny Ortez) have not mended the rift, leaving many Democratic figures quite vulnerable to the charge of “elitism” all these decades after 1968.

            • Good analysis CMD

              I think it was probably worth it, but I also think that the abandonment of the New Deal economic “Old Left” agenda was a deliberate and intentional trade-off.

              And in many ways today, it was a trade off that left the party and the country worse off. I’d take a pro-life economically liberal stalwart Senator like Phil Hart over a pro-choice Wall Street hack like Schumer any day of the week. I’d take Joe Moakley over Rahm Emmanuel.

        • hmm, one might add

          6. Initiated a cycle of political policy primarily designed to benefit those their age, keeping taxes nice and low during their earning years, keeping capital gains taxes nice and low now that they are drawing on retirement savings, and now that they are eligible, vigorously defending their Medicare and Social Security, by, among other things, electing Reagan twice and a Bush thrice.

          Also, I think I object to tom’s #1, as I don’t think LBJ or Scoop Jackson could be considered hippies.

          tom’s #3 is probably fair, though the following 40 years seems to suggest that the movement’s energy was primarily self-interest, as it sure didn’t seem to oppose any war into which they would not be drafted over the next 40 years.

          Your #5 is probably fair as well. I tend to agree, mostly, with the “liberal” side of the never-ending culture war, but simultaneously lament that the ferocity with which it has always been waged seems to eclipse almost everything else. On the other hand, the stalling of the New Deal agenda owes as much to the seeming failure of much of its “urban” components as to the culture war.

          • LBJ

            I suggest that LBJ’s change of heart regarding segregation was VERY MUCH a response to the cultural changes that swept America during his lifetime. He started his career as a staunch segregationist.

            I also note that the Democratic Party welcomed those who, like LBJ, were willing to make that change. Those who were purged were those who steadfastly refused to renounce their racism.

        • A resounding YES

          I answer a resounding “YES” to your question.

          We expelled explicit racists and reversed the explicit racism that our party had previously tolerated or even embraced. The “New Deal” coalition had long since turned rancid, and we ended it. The resulting “backlash” should have been rejected, and some of us worked very hard to make that happen.

          I suggest that the “backlash” in the south was the result of a racist culture being forced to end its Jim Crow laws, being properly condemned for its attitudes by civilized society, and being accurately characterized as a bastion of backwardness. That is NOT the result of the “hippies” or of Chicago 1968. It is instead the result of a society moving forward, and one segment of that society kicking and screaming like a three year old.

          My experience with toddlers is that a firm and uncompromising “clarification” of the limits of their behavior is the most effective way to end the tantrum. The Republicans (especially in the form of the Republicans you mention) enjoyed the tantrum and perpetuated it for their own political purposes. I see it as just one more example where the GOP eagerly (and literally!) throws America and Americans under the bus in order to advance its self-centered agenda. I see no difference between pandering to southern racists (because that is how they have kept the south) and shutting down the government.

          Suggesting that protests and protest movements stop because they might spawn a backlash is tantamount to suggesting that there be no protests or protest movements. I reject that suggestion.

      • Yes and no

        1. We purged the Democratic Party of its explicit racism and racists

        Clinton still had to give the Sistah Souljah speech, and when was the last time we actually earned the black vote? We got a long ways to go, but I appreciate how far we have come.

        2. We taught a generation of young people how to effectively counter unacceptable government behavior

        As a young person who is a son of a dad your age, let me say, it was fun to go to anti-war rallies on the weekends, but I was too busy studying for the AP test to burn my draft cards. And we could even debate that be ending the draft you made sure you’re class wouldn’t serve and no war would be protested again. And that ‘meritocracy’ of the latchkey kid is just as much a boomer invention as anything else.

        3. We made significant strides towards ending the war (in spite of Nixon)

        Pretty sure President Humphrey wouldn’t have bombed Cambodia, Laos, or lied about POWs and scuttled a potential cease fire in 68 only to sign a similar one in 73. Peace with honour left a lot of innocent people dead that would’ve been alive if Hubert was in office signing the agreement Rusk and LBJ was ready to hand over. Maybe if you had protested the GOP convention as violently as ours in Chicago, it might’ve been a wash. Not to mention an entire generation of Chicago cops who were trigger happy and ready to vote for Ronnie.

        4. We showed America the depths of racism and absurdity in its judicial system. The trial of the Chicago 7 changed the course of history.

        It certainly stopped Ferguson-oh wait, not really.

        Listen, I get that you did a lot, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I’d have been on the barricades with you, my uncle Jon, and my dad getting tear gassed. At least I hope I would’ve been. But, there was also a lot of short term thinking and anti-establishment behavior that identified the wrong foes and made peace with the wrong allies. HHH would’ve been the social democratic president America was waiting for, and it didn’t happen. It’s as much his fault, for not opposing LBJ sooner, as it as the collective generation that made Chicago a war zone. But, there is another universe out there where Reagan didn’t happen and the country was better off. Rick Pearlstein-way to my left and a big Abbie Hoffman fan tends to agree with me on that question.

        • Volunteers of America

          Look what’s happening out in the streets
          Got a revolution
          Got to revolution
          Hey I’m dancing down the streets
          Got a revolution
          Got to revolution
          Ain’t it amazing all the people I meet
          Got a revolution
          Got to revolution
          One generation got old
          One generation got soul
          This generation got no destination to hold
          Pick up the cry
          Hey now it’s time for you and me
          Got a revolution
          Got to revolution
          Come on now we’re marching to the sea
          Got a revolution
          Got to revolution
          Who will take it from you
          We will and who are we
          We are volunteers of America

          I appreciate your comment. There is much we failed to achieve.

          One aspect that I think is important is the way mainstream America learned to co-opt and marginalize “the movement” in the 1970s. I’m still struck by the absurdity of listening to a musical rendition of “She’s So Heavy” in elevator muzak on my way up to some executive suite.

          I’m particularly struck by this: “But, there was also a lot of short term thinking and anti-establishment behavior that identified the wrong foes and made peace with the wrong allies”

          Sadly, this is absolutely true. I fear this is an aspect of being 20. I really did THINK I was looking at the “long” term when I was confronting the Pittsburgh riot police in the early 1970s. It took me a lifetime to learn that naming what I am against is FAR easier than what I am for. I think I was in my forties when I began to realize that ten years is actually NOT very long — when I was being gassed and chased by police dogs, I thought I had been out of high school for an eternity (it was actually not even two years!).

          I am more disappointed by the number of my peers who have turned their backs on the idealism and, yes, innocence of our youth. I like John O’Donohue’s distinction between “naivete” and “innocence” — he suggests that the former can only be achieved, at maturity, by willfully hiding from the world, while the latter is a precious gift. “Innocence”, in O’Donohue’s formulation, requires confronting the awful realities of the world, facing them with courage and conviction, and retaining the underlying faith that in the end those core values of youthful idealism are all that matters.

          My hope is that my peers can somehow pass along to our children and grandchildren whatever wisdom we have gained from decades of fighting these battles, while celebrating the very different choices the younger generation makes.

          An ancient word for “spirit” (and breath) is “Ruah”. In my view, we all breathe together, and we make a community by doing so. The shape of that community is, my view, heavily influenced by the quality of the “air” we breathe. When we sing together, we breathe together. I long to hear anthems today — counterparts to “Revolution” (Jefferson Airplane).

          Rather than dispute what we might have done differently in 1968 or in 2011 and 2012, I prefer to observe that we all breath the same air, that we share common values (even with the Tea Party), and that the society we seek requires BOTH effective political action and Occupy-style activism.

          • Definitely

            And always a big Airplane fan myself. The music of the era can’t be topped.

            But I’ll agree with your other posts as well. I also think it’s easier for my generation to conform with the establishment since, for the large part, our parents came of age during or right after that period. When the establishment is understanding and accommodating of youth and trying to inspire it-it can be harder to protest. But, that same establishment has co-opted us more easily through the lens of a “meritocracy” that rewards answers rather than questions.

  14. The government-activist divide.

    There is often a divide between activists and those of us who focus on party politics and, therefore, governance. We need both groups for society to work, but they are usually at odds, if not concerning goals, concerning priorities, capacities, and timelines.

    Occupy did the country an important favor in raising consciousness of the 1% and thus applying pressure on them. But never did they get particularly concerned with governance. Saying what’s wrong and drawing attention to it is much different than fixing what’s wrong. Government needs activists to push and provide a loud conscience, but activists also need government to govern. In the end, Occupy decided not to persist. That’s perfectly acceptable for an activist group. Activists will go elsewhere, but that’s not an option for government.

    • But it's not as Dividey as we think.

      As I mentioned in my comment above in reply to Christopher, I see PLENTY of occupyish people doing occupy-themed work (money out of politics, income inequality, tax reform, Raise Up) Thru the Proper Channels. They’re Occupying the process, but b/c they’re working w/o the drum circles, we/you don’t “give credit”. I swear to you, I saw and continue to see a HUGE uptick in activism and engagement in the ‘burbs since Occupy. It’s both/and and they’re already working together.
      We’re clear on what’s distasteful and irritating about Occupy. Now let’s look at our own house — not just take an accounting of it (“boring, confusing, cost-prohibitive, unwelcoming”) but take steps to radically improve. Especially on the Outreach and Welcoming stuff. Because when you feel like your presence is welcomed and your voice is heard and that things Make Sense, and you’re part of a community — the boring and confusing stuff goes down a lot easier, y’know?

      • I agree there's a large amount of

        overlap. Some people here at BMG are part of the overlap. Personally, I don’t find anything distasteful or irritating about Occupy. I commend them for the job they’ve done. I’m not impressed with the article written by the Occupier, but honestly, so what? I think she’s got a bit to learn, but don’t we all?

        Incidentally, my generalization about the divide goes beyond Lefties and includes the people in my town who have an non-ideological issue to push. Perhaps I should have said “tension” instead of “divide.”

        I don’t know what to do about our own house. The caucus and convention procedure is brutal. We have a small caucus in our small town. It takes an hour and is generally fun. We are welcoming. If someone really wants to go to the convention, it’s not uncommon for someone else to step aside as happened this year. One frequent delegate went as a guest so a newcomer could go to support a different candidate.

        Conventions suck. I don’t know how to do them better, but they take too long. I like to socialize with my district, but I’ve said and heard all I’d like to long before the end of it.

  15. One complaint I definitely have no sympathy for...

    …is about the phone calls. In a perfect world every citizen would understand the importance of persuasion in a democratic system and would welcome calls and canvassing from candidates and their representatives. However, delegates specifically SIGNED UP FOR THIS. If you don’t want to be called by candidates looking for your convention vote, don’t be a delegate.

    • The Calls...

      I disagree — you may be technically right that “you signed up for this” but that’s part of the larger point (or at least my takeaway): What IS this thing you’re signing up for?

      Question: is there State Cmte materials that provide a *good* (thorough/accurate) and *accessible* description of caucuses and convention, one that any everyday Democrat (the busy parent who lives across the street) could pick up, read and then understand exactly what a caucus is, how to get to theirs and what to do to win?

      • There are some materials on the website...

        …and we do offer trainings both before and after caucuses, though much more can be done and I would be interested in your ideas since I serve on Field Services Subcommittee which is responsible for a lot of this. We are all newbies at some point. I probably found out because I signed up for the email list from the party. My first convention was in 1998 when I was a youth delegate even though I was in college out of state. From there I talked to people and found out about caucuses, town committees, etc.

        • ^good stuff right there

          If that is what the author hoped to trigger, than she may have been onto something. I think it would be great for her to come on here and throw out some positive ideas and suggestions for improving the process. We can always do better, and the party of working people shouldn’t be afraid of inclusion, and the party of progress shouldn’t be afraid of change.

          • I'll let her know -- BUT--

            You can also reach out and find HER too, y’know? Multi-directional. She’s very active on the twitters:

            She said earlier today that she thought BMG was a good space and always interested in jumping in but hasn’t. It’s the same paradigm: how do you bring in new voices, blood, ideas into what can seem to “outsiders” a closed/impenetrable community/system? Whether participating on BMG or in your local DTC.

            blahblabhlabh… I’m always thinking about how to expand the circle, and I don’t know the answer. All I know is that when there are more people, there’s more energy, ideas, and it’s less work that I have to do myself!

          • Invited/will join later

            She’ll try to sign up/on tonight!

            @harmonywho I'm at work but I will do it tonight for sure @bluemassgroup

            — Robin (@caulkthewagon) September 4, 2014

        • i'd be happy to weigh in (after election prob'ly)

          Part of the challenge is finding ways that people can plug in that DON’T feel like a “whole new thing”/commitment occupying your schedule
          (see what I did there with the ‘occupying’?)

          THere are thousands of reg’d Democrats who have NO IDEA what a DTC, caucus or Convention is/does, and would automatically tell you, “I don’t want to get involved” because they think it would take up too much time/energy. (And they may be right). How do we make engagement (both Party and political) and activism a daily thing, a relevant strain thru-out everything we do every day? The threads are there — I think it’s actvists’/partypeople mandate to make them visible and relevant, and show everydaypeople ways of plugging in that are manageable, not overwhelming and still meaningful/fulfilling.

        • MDP Materials (christopher)

          I looked thru the MDP page on Caucuses. There’s a lot of nitty gritty information there which is GREAT to have a central repository of details and procedures.

          What I don’t see (and maybe it’s moved) is something akin to a one-pager that in brief narrative form explains what a caucus is and attempts to convince the reader that they are an important part of democracy/citizenship.

          That’s the kind of thing I’d love to see the party develop, and locals to *use* — pass them out at campaign offices to the young volunteers and the first-time citizen volunteers who come out of the woodwork for their tennis partner’s campaign for dogcatcher.

          Some of the back/forth between JWalsh, the MassPoliProfs and Scot Lehigh about the caucuses and convention was really great stuff. If the essence of that narrative (“Why caucuses are truly important and democratic and totally cool!”) could be put onto a page that could be printed off and handed around as we meet new / different people on the hustings, that’d be so great.

          Just to give an example scenario — I have a Mommy/Daughter book club, and slowly I’ve been creeping up to talking some politics. I’m relieved to learn it’s a left-leaning crowd (much less likely to argue in front of the children!), all of whom vote, usually, in general elections, many of whom vote in primaries, but none of whom would ever go to caucus, because they never heard of them except perhaps in passing.

          Something to convince them about how caucuses are as exciting and interesting as elections would be so helpful. (I tried on my own, of course; maybe I’ll succeed next year).

  16. Regardless of how people feel,

    That there was this much debate about occupy in this thread, this long after it, means that it was a dramatic success.

    Its death/failure, if we want to call it that, were a manure for countless organizations and community groups. I see shades of the spirit (and often many of the people) of occupy in everything from Liz Warren and her campaign to this giant and enormously successful fast food strike that just happened.

    Do I think this woman’s complaints are completely legit? Some. I also think it’s fair to criticize some of her views about the process, which is nearly as open and accessible as an occupy GA. I think her thoughts represent opportunity for the democratic party to learn, as well as that younger people need to learn get involved in established organizations.

    It’s important that our party start to speak to young people – focusing on issues that are of major concern to them (and making sure they know about it when we do succeed) – for is to start bringing in some new blood to the process.

  17. With respect to a lot of the above

    Rather than asking, How do we recruit Occupy into our political practice (Town committees? Really?), I believe we should ask two things.

    First, how can we run the furthest with the political possibility that Occupy opened?

    Second, can we help the next Occupy to happen again?

    (Sorry this is not in thread, I lost the thread of that thread.)

    • Do "we" WANT another "Occupy"? This thread suggests not...?

      Great comments. Now, my question: given the contempt expressed here about Occupy, by some terrific left-flank Democrats, is there any strucutral/party desire to see such a thing as “another Occupy”? I feel skeptical. (I’d like to see it, but I’m just me.)

      • This is a complicated question

        Because party “structure” is a complicated thing in our “huge tent” party here. Didn’t Will Rogers say…?

        I think we saw, with Raise Up MA, some true insider Democrats who saw the whole thing as an annoyance. Not just from the DeLeo wing. More of a “leave it to the grown-ups” mentality. Well, hell no. I’m not down with that, and I think Raise Up is a pretty good example of the right way to do things (though I think we got played on the final MW bill).

        “Another Occupy?” It depends on what you mean. Another mass movement engaging people – young people in particular – and highlighting what needs to be addressed? Hell yes. Does it have to be people protesting in the streets for months? I don’t think so. Does it need to be so unfocused in specific goals and demands? I hope not.

        My “contempt” (I used the word in anger so I’ve gotta own it) is not for Occupy per se. Not at all. It’s for people not wanting to participate in a caucus or call a legislator because it’s not as much fun as chanting in the streets. Or for people – and I know some – who reject participation in the Democratic Party specifically because it enables them to feel superior to the “hacks” and “squares” in the party. But they couldn’t tell Simpson-Bowles from O.J. Simpson and didn’t even know we had a budget battle on Beacon Hill in 2013. Or an open U.S. Senate seat.

        A dear friend told me, “laziness and rationalization go well together.” That may not apply to Robin at all but I think it applies to a lot of her readers.

      • Does WHO want it? (Who is "we"?)

        One place where establishment liberals and conservatives clasp hands is in utter horror at the notion that mass movements have power.

        But as a progressive I would say this.

        Reactionaries will always have access to top-down power. To endless waves of money and the things it buys: newspapers, legislators, influence, armed guards.

        They will outspend us and outfight us on that turf. We can win battles there but not that war.

        For us, the bottom-up power of the people is essential, if perhaps not sufficient.

        So we have to learn to cope with its inherent messiness. We have to learn to work with it, to respect it, to serve it. To celebrate it.

        Otherwise we lose.

        • Sure

          But as I said above-caucuses, canvasses, and groups like Gus one on and offline are partisan, are based around electoral aims and goals, and are totally bottom up grassroots movements. If insiders had their way, Tom Reilly or Gabrielli would’ve beaten Patrick. He needed foot soldiers and we were there for him. Many of the same people also protested the war, also agitated for gay equality when even ‘liberals’ on Beacon Hill were clamoring for civil unions, and were part of Occupy and it’s offshoots.

          Harmony is a great example of a committed Democrat, working with progressive mass, and also an occupier. I think, as Fenway articulated, we fail when we say let the “grown ups” take over and avoid mass movement politics and my friends who got arrested in New York but won’t pull ballots in November are just as myopic. It requires both components if grassroots action within and outside the system.

      • Effectiveness

        As I wrote, the Occupy thing was not for me. I like clear goals, well thought-out tactics, PR that appeals. Occupy had none of that. In fact, it felt like the kind of political event I’d seen a bit too much of decades ago. While Vietnamese or Salvadorans were being slaughtered, I find beads and kumbaya lack the moral urgency needed to save actual lives.

        But my tastes should not rule the world.

        The fact that Occupy did change the national dialogue (say, in the mainstream media) was immensely valuable. So hooray for that. If more outpourings like Occupy can accomplish something similar, I’m for it — even if I’d prefer not read very much about it.

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Wed 29 Mar 3:17 AM