Uncle Walt and the Windmills

Pat Ryan

Uncle Walt and the Windmills

That's me on the vespa

So for the past year or so I've been engaged in the worst sort of overt masochism, battling with self styled libertarians, conservatives and Ayn Rand loving libertarian/Christians. Weirdly, for the latter group, the conflict between dueling deities does not give them pause, but it's also true that some of the most ardent devotees of Tea are still able to be outraged by the rampant corruption inherent in our current system of government and the bipartisan cronyism that goes unrecognized among many of our own elected officials from the White House to our own congressional delegation. There is hardly a so called liberal or progressive who hasn't bought into the idea that the road to a prosperous and healthy society is paved with tax cuts and reductions in government social programs. This is very unhealthy stuff psychologically, so when Uncle Walt Trandum decided to come flying back into House District politics after a two year hiatus, I was happy to be drafted as a spear carrier in quest to elect an HD representative relying only on $50 contributions from actual human beings who live in the district. Also at the foot of the windmill from the start were Steve Winkler and Dick McQueen two long time fellow warriors here in the HD. We still ain't got a candidate as of this writing but the manifesto has been published in the Sandy Post , the Mountain Times and will appears in the Oregonian on the 17th. Here is a copy of our 4th and most recent draft.

Overview of the proposal to develop and test a new template (blueprint) for getting someone elected HD Rep, as a Democrat, in the 2012 election cycle, without the candidate being subjected to the influences of big money. Please note that this proposal is still likely to require further revision.

The initial challenge will be finding a candidate that will embrace and agree to all of the key components outlined in this proposal. That person must be committed enough to go “all in” but with the understanding that by getting our message out and providing an alternative to the scourge of big money in politics, we don’t absolutely need to win the seat this cycle, to achieve victory. They must understand that we are testing an alternative model for getting elected, without compromising the candidate’s integrity. However, with a strong candidate, there is a very real possibility that this campaign could strike a chord with the general public, gain serious momentum and actually be successful in the 2012 election cycle. If we did win, we would effectively break the grip that big money now has on these races.

If possible, our candidate should run as pragmatist, rather than an idealog. Our Website will include a resume link, which will highlight any relevant experience, positive qualities and/or transferable skill sets that would indicate our candidate is qualified to serve as State Representative. It should not attempt to conceal the candidates documented ideological past, but that link should also contain a disclaimer about this candidates pragmatic intentions in the legislature and (if possible) any verifiable history of pragmatic behavior.

The case must be made that the infusion of huge amounts of special interest money pouring into political campaigns over the past few decades has contributed to the rabid and oftentimes radical partisanship that has so skewed the American political process that it no longer serves the needs of the American people. Many decent Americans now view other decent Americans, that happen to think differently on some issues than they do, as their enemies! We are so divided as a people, that we can’t even talk to each other, let alone reach consensus, on anything. Serious issues are not being honestly addressed by either side. Each side has demonized the other side to the point that they dare not concur with the opposition on anything, or risk being perceived as a hypocrite, turncoat or a traitor by their own radicalized base. These large amounts of outside and special interest money are almost never used to inform voters of a candidate’s record and/or positions on the issues of the day. This money is more often used to dissemble and/or to demonize the opposition (usually both). It is also used to push the agenda of the contributing person or organization, whatever it happens to be.

Our candidate will only take local money from folks that live in the district, 50 dollars per individual per year (We still need to figure out rules/limits for in kind donations, loans, etc. too). No money from groups or businesses, in or outside the district. No family or personal money (beyond the 50 or whatever, and only if they live in district).

He/she should also declare that they will sign no pledges of any kind, and they should be ready to explain the negative effect of such pledges in the effort to best represent constituents and pass useful legislation.

Our campaign will focus on the candidate’s character and his/her desire to get to Salem without compromising his/her ability to effectively represent their constituents. We should suggest that most of the current elected officials in Salem today are likely of good moral character and are doing the best they can. However, because they allowed themselves to be elected using the influence of big, outside and/or special interest money, they are unfortunately, in many crucial circumstances, beholden to the wishes of those “special interests” and thus are not able to effectively and honestly represent the interests of their constituents.

It will be crucial for our campaign to have a kick-ass website, professionally designed and run updated at least daily, kept very fresh with scheduled and unscheduled installments and many informative links. The homepage will be “Why I’m running” with embedded links in the narrative, explaining how much of what is wrong in America today is a direct result of the negative influence of big money on elections and how this candidacy addresses and attempts to resolve this problem.

Our campaign will also have an effective detailed campaign plan/timeline.

Our candidate will need a “very compelling” statement in the voter’s pamphlet that can stand alone, but will hopefully entice many potential voters to seek more information by visiting the campaign website or calling and requesting further information. We will also encourage folks at every turn to tell their friends and neighbors to check out our candidate’s website too.

Our campaign will try to lead by example and will run a positive campaign, focused on the issues we want to focus on. Among the issues our candidate will highlight will be the issue of negative campaigning. The link to a page on the campaign website will explain that there is nothing wrong with negative campaigning itself, if done honestly, where the negative assertion is based in reality (supported by documented and verifiable facts) and it is truly representative of the opposition’s position, behavior and/or character. We will attempt to explain the difference between “mudslinging” and negative campaigning with examples of the various dishonest mudslinging techniques. Our candidate will promise never to use any of these “dishonest” techniques. We will however, reserve the right to “go negative” if and when necessary, to challenge any assertions made by our opponents which are blatantly untrue.

Our candidate will only seek and accept endorsements from individuals within the district, no groups or businesses. They will be posted in alphabetical order on a page on the website. They should say occupation and/or can list their business, if they are a business owner (and/or are an employee of a local business, if we get that business owner’s permission) Example: Heather Belle from Mt. Moka in Sandy. The idea is to sell our candidate using the personal credibility in the community of these individuals. Getting some community leaders onboard would be most helpful early on. A huge cross section including a few strange bedfellows would be the best, down the stretch. Some of these names might also be links, to our First Person Testimonial page.

Our candidate will have a First Person Testimonial page on the website that will have various individuals from this person’s life giving first hand accounts of how wonderful this person is. We will highlight character, positive attributes and transferable skill sets that would make this person a good legislator at this point in time. Some of these folks can be outside of the district, as they are just personal or professional references. They should have a little picture (like Facebook does) and contact information (Facebook, e-mail, phone and/or whatever) as well as the testimonial piece, in case potential voters want verification and/or further information.

The candidate must be willing and able to make maximum use of Facebook, twitter, etc. It may turn out that this social media stuff will be huge in this election cycle. We should also make good use of You-tube with new fresh stuff being frequently introduced.

While electronic media may (or may not) turn out to be a big factor, our candidate must be responsive in all mediums, returning all phone calls, following up on all correspondence, promises, etc. We will provide avenues and opportunities for potential voters to contact the campaign and when they do, we will have the actual candidate respond, when appropriate and feasible.

Depending on money, momentum and available folks with volunteer hours, the campaign would like to provide the candidate with considerable (mostly volunteer) support staff, including a Campaign Manager, Treasurer, a highly effective and motivated Webmaster (likely the only paid position), a Research Department (1 or more people), a Mailing Crew / Department (1 or more people), a Scheduler / Secretary, a Volunteer Coordinator, a Database Manager and a Press / Publicity person.

Our candidate must be willing to show up at meetings and events all over the district, at least semi-regularly, for at least a year before the election and occasionally afterwards. He or she should present as a candidate (or potential candidate) for State Rep who is just there to meet folks and learn about their issues (especially early on), rather than try to tell them anything. His/her mission (getting the influence of BIG MONEY out of politics) should only come up (early on) if it directly addresses an issue the particular group is struggling with at that time.

Later on the candidate must be willing to make numerous scheduled public and private appearances as well, delivering a compelling stump speech about the need to limit big money’s influence on elections and asking for the 50 dollars (at every turn) as appropriate.

Only the candidate will knock on doors and/or make any cold calls and that should only be done at appropriate times. We will strive for excellence in voter contact because our candidate and/or campaign will not likely be able to reach everyone directly. We will actively encourage positive word of mouth and will hope to exploit the few degrees of Kevin Bacon. Our word of mouth reputation must be overwhelmingly positive, or this campaign model has no chance whatsoever. This, along with some positive free media will be key factors, if this candidacy is to achieve serious momentum. Our campaign will not use robo calls, ever.

Volunteers and supporters will be encouraged to give personal testimonials to friends, neighbors and (opportunistically) strangers, but they will not be used to knock on strangers’ doors or call and torment them. Volunteers would also stage coffees, teas and BBQ’s, all of which should be attended by the candidate. We will also consider having volunteers wear “Ask me why” type buttons and carry campaign literature and/or contact info.

Volunteers should also write LTEs, starting ASAP. Early in the campaign they should rail against the corrupting influence of big (and especially big-outside) money in our elections process. They should highlight the negative consequences of the excessive partisanship that currently divides us to the point that we cannot even manage our day-to-day affairs, let alone resolve the larger challenges that must be dealt with. Later they should mostly be either reasoned arguments and/or testimonials favoring our candidate. We should also mention in these letters where to donate and/or where to get further information, as appropriate, every chance we get.

Also, if elected, our candidate will talk to lobbyists and their opponents (if any), but won’t take money from either.

No Mass/Direct Mailings ever, but we might consider targeted postcards and/or very local “Dear Neighbor” letters, should the resources become available. We will have a responsive snail mail capability to provide timely hard copy information when requested, for folks that don’t use the internet, as well as donation receipts, thank you letters, etc.

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    You'll notice that there are no points made regarding specific legislation or candidate positions outside of the framework of how the campaign will be run and financed. This was done intentionally as we are narrowly concerned with the state of election politics as they relate to massive sums of cash and the inevitable myopia of outside organizations and "political professionals", and we wish to afford total latitude on these practical policy matters to potential candidates.

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    As Gordon Moore used to tell his engineers and marketing people, I believe you have over-constrained the solution. While each of your candidate "musts" may make sense on their own, the cumulative effect is that no candidate can conform, let alone have an even very slim chance of winning.

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    Well John, it's a draft and perhaps you have a point. Rules about canvassing, volunteers, etcetera are all subject to change easily enough. The core value here, though, is indeed constraining. If we have to back down from the basic principle that SEIU, the Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, and OLCV are not human beings, we'll roll 'er up. The $50 refundable per calendar year is a statement that in election financing, the basic unit of society is (1), the individual, and no individual has a right to a megaphone, a bullhorn, or a radio station.

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    The blueprint you are laying out is virtually identical to the one I followed when I ran in 2006. I wasn't the candidate to get 'er done, losing one of the closest races in the state in a pretty heavily Republican district, but I think it can be a winning strategy in a non-targeted race given the right district and the right candidate. Kudos to you, Pat, for pushing for someone to try it again.

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    Repetition may be a critical component to the effort of returning policy closer to the ground and the individual, Sal. Pioneers are to be both praised and emulated, because if the latter don't happen they aren't pioneers. Also noticed that Republican Buddy Roemer is trying something similar at national and I'm sending $20 to a republican for the first time in my 60 years on the planet.

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    Oh, and regarding our effort, it's Uncle Walt that pulled the rest of us spear carriers into the effort. We have already been contacted by one organization with which we'd like to make common cause, but again if we are able to work with them it will be under the model, so that rather than the org aggregating membership, they'll be more in the role of getting the word out to membership within the district, and urging them to participate as individuals. It remains to be seen whether this is more or less effective in acquiring donations, but it will definitely fit the goal of encouraging individual participation.


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