Thursday, December 4, 2014

Libs do work conservatives should be doing

 Yesterday, I wrote about how conservatives should take a page from the Mormons, sending conservative evangelists out into the world.

Look who is doing that already? The ad below is on Craigslist.


 Start Your Progressive Political Career! Apply to be a Director

compensation: $24,000 + Healthcare & Benefits!

Grassroots Campaigns is a progressive organization that specializes in running face-to-face campaigns for political parties, candidates, and advocacy groups. By running campaigns on behalf of groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Democratic National Committee, the Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club we can focus on building up their membership and base of support. Also, through running field campaigns for candidates and other political organizations we can mobilize citizens to be more actively engaged and involved in politics.
Since 2003, Grassroots Campaigns has worked with many of the most progressive organizations and political candidates to date.  Our campaigns have been on the front line of a variety of social change movements and historic elections.  Our goal is to grow the progressive movement through face-to-face outreach.
Canvass Directors and Assistant Canvass Directors manage one of our 30 grassroots fundraising field offices across the country, with bottom-line responsibility for all local operations.
Job Responsibilities:
Recruitment:  Build a team of 15-50 canvassers by recruiting from within the local community.  Interview prospective staff and make hiring decisions.
Staff Management:  Teach canvassing/fundraising skills.  Work with your staff in individual and group settings, with a particular eye towards developing leaders.  Cultivate a welcoming and motivating atmosphere.
Canvassing:  Canvass in the field for four days per week, to train new and experienced staff in the field and meet personal fundraising requirements.
Administration:  Carefully track income and expenses.  Manage the budget for your office.  Process staff payroll.  Maintain records for future organizing efforts.
Strong communication and motivational skills, work ethic, and desire for political change are essential.  Candidates must be able to work within a team, have proven leadership ability and experience handling a lot of responsibility. Strong self-direction and the ability to take initiative are also necessary qualifications. Previous field or canvassing experience is a plus, and may qualify candidates for additional leadership positions.
Newly hired directors will typically spend three weeks doing field training, working intensely alongside experienced directors and will also attend week-long national classroom training.  Additionally, directors receive support from regional management staff throughout their time on staff.  After one year in the position, staff will have learned the basics of running a successful grassroots campaign, including, but not limited to, fundraising and donor recruitment, hiring and supervising staff and/or volunteers, and turf management.
Campaign hours can run 60-80 hours per week, including work on weekends.
Annual salary for Assistant Canvass Directors begins at $24,000.   Staff may opt into our health care plan (PPO).  Paid training, vacation and sick days are included; student loan assistance is available.
Timing and Location:
Positions are available in cities nationwide.  Currently hiring in MA, NY, PA, IL,  NM, NV, MO, NC, CO, CA, WA, OR, TX,  and Washington, D.C.  In order to make the largest impact possible, directors will have a chance to organize in a city, and expand the progressive movement by opening and developing campaigns in politically important swing states.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Conservatives should take a page from the Mormons

Republicans are falling behind in the battle to win the hearts and minds of the American people.

We ceded a big part of the fight when we handed over all of our school children to the nearest indoctrination centers, but now it's time to fight back.

Once this election is over, it will be time to turn our attention to the long game. And I don't mean winning the 2016 presidential election, although yeah, we should probably work on that too. 

In the meantime, however, we need to go about winning more of the electorate, not because we want power, but because we want our country to be the very best it can be. It's time to return this country to the Shining City on the Hill.

We're not going to do that through internet advertising and television commercials. Changing the culture requires personal, one-on-one attention.

And here's where we take a page from the Mormons: If I were in charge of the Republican Party, I think I'd open and staff small offices in communities that we can slowly turn to our side.  I do not mean an office in Leawood. Johnson County is red -- bordering on deep red. Paul Davis lost Johnson County. The conservative evangelists preached the message in the Golden Ghetto and it stuck. This county doesn't need to be brought to the Republican table. We're already there, pouring the drinks and refreshing the snack bowls.

I am going to use the Third District as an example, however. Though if this Mormon-like outreach is to be on a national scale, Kansas is probably not where I would start to evangelize conservative ideas. Someone with more data (and time to parse it) can probably name the right place.

We need to reach people on their turf, rather than expecting people to come to us. In the third district, Republicans need to move the needle in Kansas City, Kan. There's a large minority population. Many of the families there are headed by a single parent -- this is not the traditional Republican demographic. But Republicans need to reach both are demos -- minorities and single-parent households -- if we're to be successful as a party in the future.

So, in these small offices, likely in urban, under-served communities, we staff the Republican-equivalent of Mormon missionaries -- without the bicycle helmets. Their mission is a campaign that never ceases. Ever. And the job of these missionaries is more than just winning people to our side -- it's winning hearts and minds one person at a time.

The Republican evangelists, if you will, will continue to go door-to-door even when it isn't campaign season. They'll meet three or four times a year with church leaders in their station. They'll meet with community leaders in their station, and they'll use the off time to determine what it is exactly each community needs, and then they'll work to solve those problems.

For example, they land on a doorstop and learn that the neighborhood park is on the verge of condemnation. Our fearless Republican missionaries will work to solve the problem, primarily using private donations and regular, everyday citizens. (They should know a few of them by now, because they've been hitting doorsteps and community meetings regularly.)

There is a mantra among writers: Show, don't tell. If you have a character who sings well, you don't write "Shelly had a voice like an angel." Instead, you write that "The audience rose to its feet cheering when Shelly finished her solo during the school play." Show, don't tell.

That's the point of private citizens solving the park problem with little help of the local government. The people who live in those neighborhoods often have never witnessed what the private sector can do. We need to be catalysts to show them.

Often when a politician comes to the door and listens to a problem, they offer government solutions. They'll sponsor a bill or get in touch with Government Program A. It's job security, I guess, but it "shows" people that government is the solution. We need to do better.

In addition to going door-to-door, these conservative evangelists should be identifying the next generation of conservative leaders. These are the folks they'll call on when they learn about the dilapidated park. Their also the people they'll recruit to run for school boards and city councils. 

I know it sounds insane, but if I were in charge, conservatives would have people out knocking on doors every single day, and organizing massive canvassing projects every few months, instead of once every few months.

Fortunately, there are groups doing some of this. I notice Americans for Prosperity is hiring part-time field directors all over the country. And they organized several efforts during this last election cycle. I really hope they plan to continue that meaningful work.

The DailyKos figured this out in late September: Democrats were spending money hiring professional staff to oversee volunteers and efforts, while Republicans were spending their war chests on television ads and mail. That's so 1985 of the GOP.

I regularly notice help wanted ads on Craigslist for liberal activist paid jobs. Circa 2001, I would have laughed and said their support is all astro-turf. After 2008, I've had a major change of heart.

Republican candidates and organization raise millions and millions each cycle. We need to be wiser about how that money is used. It just makes sense that a paid staffer is going to be more reliable than a volunteer. (Duh. It's like Democrats figured out the principles behind capitalism as it relates to campaigns before Republicans. Frankly, it's an embarrassment.)

Mormons are the fastest growing faith group in the United States. And it probably isn't because their faith -- no offense -- makes the most sense. It's because when people are soul-searching and seeking answers, Mormons are actively engaged in leading people outside their faith community to the answers. 

Many, many of those outside of the typical, GOP demographic must be seeking political answers in today's world. Consider the minority business owners in Ferguson, Mo., who have probably always voted for Democrats. They've got to be doing some political soul-searching these days. 

Sadly, conservatives don't appear to be stepping in to provide some of the answers. I am not bashing the likely Republican-donors who have given to Ferguson business owners online. That's all well and good, but handing a business owner a few bucks doesn't do the same in terms of changing hearts and minds as a personal relationship. 

Imagine the good a set of conservative evangelists who had been in Ferguson for a few years could do in that community. 

Someone needs to study how the Mormons do it, and take a page from their book. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Merrick

Republicans elected Ray Merrick as Speaker of the Kansas House. There are 16 people who voted for Peck. I don't get it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I don't think so, Virgil

I'm sure Rep. Virgil Peck is a super nice guy. He probably leads his church youth organizations and organizes golf tournaments for orphans.

But he's said some monumentally stupid and embarrassing things in public. So naturally, he's thrown his name in to challenge Rep. Ray Merrick for Speaker of the Kansas House.

I don't have any insider-y knowledge about this race, but if the vote for Kansas Speaker isn't 97-1 in favor of Merrick, we've got problems.

Unfortunately, the votes for House leadership aren't public. So, say Peck somehow manages to win or even come close, we won't know how members of the Republican Caucus voted. 

That drives me bonkers. 

Leadership roles are critically important, and as a constituent, I'd like to know that my Representative uses that vote in an appropriate manner. With anonymous voting, I really can't say that. The secret ballot certainly allows politicians to promise favors in return for leadership votes with absolutely no transparency. Not cool.

Anyway, Rep. Peck is infamous for saying Kansas could solve its illegal immigration problem by shooting illegals from helicopters like feral pigs. A very low moment for conservatives. I know it was a joke, but it wasn't funny. He said it in public, and Peck will never again be mentioned in the news without the information about his notorious gaffe seeing print. 

Conservatives don't need to be painted with that brush every time the Kansas Legislature gets a mention in the Topeka Capitol Journal or the Kansas City Star.

It's damaging enough that people are calling Peck's decision to seek the job a "challenge from the right." Just stop, media. It's a challenge from a guy who dresses like a clown. As far as I know, no conservatives are rallying to Peck's side. (I sure hope they aren't anyway. Peck hails from way, way down south. I'm from way, way Johnson County, so I have no idea what happens out by the Oklahoma border.)

Anyway, others seeking leadership roles include Randy Garber, Kyle Hoffman and Mario Goico, who each hope to serve as Assistant Majority Leader. They're all old white guys -- not that there's anything wrong with that. Garber is from Sabetha. Hoffman is from Clearwater, and Goico is from Wichita.

Travis Couture-Lovelady, so far, is the only person seeking to be Caucus Leader. Ron Ryckman, Jr. is the only person, so far, running for Majority Whip. (For what it's worth, Travis is young. Ryckman, Jr. is young-ish.)

Rep. Peggy Mast, Emporia, faces a challenge from Rep. Don Schroeder, Hesston, for Pro Tem. 

GOP will select its legislative leaders on Dec. 1.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pat Roberts sees the light

Fresh off a tight election, Sen. Pat Roberts appears to have seen the decidedly conservative light.

I was alarmed on Nov. 6, when Roberts reportedly said he wanted to "fix" Obamacare and end gridlock in Washington.

That's not what he's saying today.

Yesterday, he penned an editorial to The Kansas City Star promising to:

• Repeal and replace Obamacare, "lifting the burden on our job creators and lowering costs for patients;

• Stand up to unconstitutional attempts to imposed undocumented immigrants by executive order; ("undocumented immigrants" -- Roberts' language, not mine. They're "illegals.")

• Open the Keystone Pipeline, "shed the yoke of the EPA and finally become energy independent."

Roberts told Breitbart that he supports a strategy that would cut off funding for President Obama's planned executive amnesty.

On Election night, Roberts promised to be bold and conservative. His words suggest that's true. Let's hope he follows through with actions.

Someone's already worried about 2016

And her name is Air Claire McCaskill, who owes her Senate seat to the breathtaking stupidity of Todd Akin.

Anyway, Claire told reporters today that she will not vote for Sen. Harry Reid for Senate Minority Leader. He hasn't done enough to reach out to Republicans.

Riiiiiight. It's because she wants to work with Republicans.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dem autopsy a cautionary tale for Republicans

This guy at the DailyKos is probably onto something.

I really hope the Kansas Democrats never put him in charge. Although on second thought, I think I have met this guy one time, and I'm not sure they want him in front of a television camera. Behind the scenes, he could be dangerous.

His autopsy of what he calls the "error brigade" rings true to me, anyway. 

He writes: "The pressure it seemed was on Democrats: Stick to our message and our message is... unfortunately in March of 2014, the message remained: 'Not Sam Brownback.' This message, 'Not Sam Brownback' resonated only as far as a race with Sam Brownback in it of course, but even in that race, Democrats knew that it needed something else."

Obviously, they needed to define Paul Davis. They never did. They also failed to capitalize on issues the writer says would have resonated with voters, choosing instead to focus only on education.  They relied on big data rather than actually talking to people.

"Kansas Democrats simply assumed that education was the top issue for voters," he writes. "It resonated with them."

It didn't, thankfully. (Of course, we know that some of Dems' complaints about education funding in Kansas were simply inaccurate. Being honest is generally helpful when you're trying to reach people on a personal level.)

The Dems needed an edge in Johnson County, but the author said the education issue was always going to be a hard sell in this end of the state.

"...the new plan in Johnson County -- a place that Democrats had to win -- to provide middle school students with free iPads and high school students with MacBooks would completely destroy an education argument. Parents simply wouldn't accept the idea that schools where (sic) if their kids were coming home with free technology no matter how rural schools suffered," he wrote.

But that, he said is the fault of Democrat schemers for using data rather than actually talking to people. 

He suggests that residents in the southwest Kansas, specifically Hispanics, had concerns about the minimum wage. In western Kansas voters wanted to talk about water conservation, ag policy and wages.

But, he notes, Democrats don't recognize these issues when they're running statewide campaigns from Topeka and Lawrence. (He also mentions the detrimental challenges of having a communications director who calls some parts of Kansas, "crapholes." D'oh!)

Republicans should learn from these conclusions:

1. An effective political party should be a bottom-up organization. 

"A state party is almost never built top down. A governor doesn't suddenly build up a party full of county commissioners and state house members. The reverse is almost always true."

Gov. Brownback started building the Kansas GOP machine long ago. Unfortunately, I believe once he reached the pinnacle, he quit listening to the grassroots. The Governor famously got involved in selecting delegates to the state party. The state party writes the platform and is typically includes precinct people and party volunteers. These are the people who do the entirely selfless work of campaigning. And for the Governor to deign to attempt to control who lands in those slots is just tacky and disgusting. This election was scarier than it should have been, and I suspect that is in part because Brownback appears to be somewhat of a narcissist, surrounded by yes people who will not allow a sliver of discord. It worked this time, because the electorate in Kansas is truly conservative, but I don't think that's a long-term plan for success.

2. A wise party encourages local candidates to run provides them active support, the DailyKos author writes.

The writer gives too much credit to the idea that Republicans are doing this in the way we should be. We aren't, but it's solid advice.

3. Talking to voters is far more effective than relying on polling.

The national GOP earned its comeuppance on this one in the 2012 election. The Dems, it seemed, had a magical turnout machine and the Republicans had one had technical problems on Election Day in 2012.

My fear is that we could go the way the Kansas Dems did this year in the future. Our tech and data did what it was supposed to do in 2014, but we cannot be complacent. They should never, ever replace actually talking to people one-on-one. 

4. Finally, the author makes a plea for Kansas Democrats to get out of their bubble in Topeka and Lawrence. 

"If the Kansas Democratic Party hopes to survive, it must fumigate it's (sic) office and realize it doesn't belong in Topeka. Or Lawrence. It must move to Salina. Tomorrow. Immediately."

The Kansas Republicans have done a fairly decent job of getting out of Topeka, but we aren't working hard enough on the ground in places like Wyandotte. And I am continually baffled at the echo chamber where most party faithful spend their time. Our echo chamber is great right now, but the demographics long term are not in our favor. We must do the work now of engaging minority voters, WHERE THEY ARE;  and of engaging single women voters -- fewer and fewer people are getting married these days.

We're going to need to peel off larger and larger of segments in those two populations if we hope to succeed 10 years from now, and possibly, if we hope to have continued success even in 2016. 

The voters in the graphic above, they'll be back in 2016. If we don't start educating them now, they'll be at the polls, woefully ignorant, and likely to vote with the Democrats.