Where did the Deaniacs go?

By Ginny Ross of Portland, who is a member of the Democracy for Oregon Steering Committee.

Howard Dean at Portland State UniversityEver wonder where all those pioneering, fund-raising, people-powered, first-time activists for Howard Dean went after March '04? Did they "unsubscribe" and take the summer off? After Nov. 3rd did they bite back the sweet temptation to say "We told you so, dood" and hang up their mousepads and shoeleather?

Nothing of the kind! We still hear Howard Dean's gruff inspiring phrase ringing in our ears --- We Want Our Country Back!

In April, we sat in awe as Howard Dean immediately picked himself up after the Primary, created Democracy for America and went about, in a matter of weeks, raising and spending $5 million to put hundreds of progressive candidates across the nation in office on election day. So following Dean's lead, we refused to give up the fight to put ordinary citizens back in charge again. We stuck together, continued to Meetup, and we are still an active community today. After working non-stop to support Kerry through an exhausting General Election, we summoned the energy to knit our group back together. To help place a veneer of officialdom around our rabble of patriots wielding cyber pitchforks and torches, we did the obvious thing. We incorporated.

With our shiny new Democracy for Oregon, we will bring Howard Dean's national initiatives right to the pub in your town every month. We suspect this will glue us together, amplify our voices, fill our inboxes to brimming, and forge us into an awesome team of coordinated progressive activists ready for any campaign.

It will also annoy us thoroughly with Board meetings that evoke shades of our former selves, the selves that never got involved in politics before for that exact reason: the need for Board meetings. The shades come to these Meetings and say 'neener, neener'! They mock us because, let's face it, we're all completely hooked now. Habitual Meeting Up, ad hoc projects, online petitions, and letter writing campaigns now form a regular part of our lives that no silly 'election day' can put an end to. We've seen the power we have, and we can't 'unsee' it now. Activist toothpaste doesn't go back into the tube.

Having resolved the question "Whither the Deaners?", my purpose here now is to invite all Blue Oregon readers join us. Why not ring in a Blue New Year by joining us at our January Democracy for America Meetup on January 5th at 7 p.m.? This month, we will learn how to win the debate with effective "framing". The right frames will insure our progressive message will be heard through the worsening blizzard of GOP deception and Orwellian language. Our mentor will be George Lakoff via his excellent new "How To" video on messaging ("How Democrats & Progressives Can Win"). (Note to non meeting goers: We have a blast at Meetups. Note to academic types: there is no quiz (sorry) but impromptu speechifying is an option.) Find your nearest DFA Meetup here.

Looking back over 2004, thousands of us Oregon Dean supporters (like Blue Oregon contributors Lew Frederick and Andrew Simon) did our utmost to elect Kerry and other Dems in vital races throughout the state. Our historic Dean houseparty fundraisers became Kerry fundraisers. Our Dean Shoeleather Brigade worked tirelessly registering thousands of voters to elect Kerry.

But I wanted to let you all know that in the midst of working for Kerry and other Dems this year, we never lost sight of the long term battle Dean opened our eyes to. We have to restore our democracy for ordinary citizens again. This is the message and appeal of the ongoing Democracy for America campaign: That when corporate interests control the debate through media consolidation, and they also control the candidates through campaign financing, real democracy for ordinary American citizens (of any party) is doomed. We must face this fact and fight back. Howard Dean did, and we can too.

Knowing this, we Dean supporters have stuck together and kept our revolutionary powder dry. There is no retreat, and if Kerry did lose (still a disturbing question) it only proves Howard Dean was even more correct than many gave him credit for at the time. We face a crisis and we have no option but to rise up and demand our airwaves back, demand our voting process back, demand our campaigns back, demand our candidates back and demand OUR country BACK! Join us and we will do it together.

Best Wishes for a Happy Blue Year!

  • Sid Anderson (unverified)

    Well, this Deaniac started a blog, joined a group, asked the group if we knew who our state legislatures were (no one did), gave the group the website where they could find out, asked them to get in touch with their state reps once the session started, planned the next meeting where we will be watching George Lakoff's DVD...

    Anyway, we're still out here and we see a future worth fighting for.

    You asked.

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    Linn-Benton for Democracy has been in existence since last March, the first Meetup for DFA groups. most of our Deaniacs, however, had become deeply involved in the various campaigns (you ain't seen Oregon Democrats in action til you come to Benton & Linn counties), so we're in startover mode.

    looking forward to getting Democracy for Oregon going, and muy props to Ginny for busting her, um, ross, on pushing that forward.

    btw, Sid, we do know who our reps are down here in Mid-Valley. waaaay too many Rs, unfortunately -- for now.

  • LT (unverified)

    Yes, we in Marion County also know our state reps. AND, along the lines of Dean, how many have read Dean's book YOU HAVE THE POWER, esp. the chapter "Losing Our Party"? It is the best description I have read of what went wrong with Democrats which led to a movement of Deaniacs and others saying "we want our party back".

    I got an email recently from a friend who suggested there should be a blog for downstate Democrats because Portland Democrats seem to think we don't matter and Democratic politics revolves around Portland. Agree or disagree with that sentiment, people in Portland need to be aware that there are people outside the Portland area who DO know their legislators (having worked on multiple legislative campaigns, who do not think the caucus did a good job on downstate House elections, who would like it recognized that people outside the Portland area look at things differently. Talk to someone like Terry Thompson of Lincoln County (former state rep).

    Someone told me a story about a person from the 2004 caucus campaign issuing orders like "I will be down there next Thursday because you need to canvass Pct.X" and then arriving only to look at the map of the district and discover Pct. X was so rural it would be difficult to go door to door. (I use caucus because I don't know if these decisions were made by the House Democratic leadership, someone hired to run the 2004 Future Pac operation, or what. Way back in 1996 there were stories about national (pres. & federal elections) being micromanaged by people from the outside who couldn't find their way from the campaign office to the Post Office. From what I have read, one intelligent thing Rove's Republicans did was to train locals who wouldn't have that problem.

    I also heard a story that after the primary the caucus said to a candidate "we really want you to win this election--what do you need?" and the candidate said "I need a, b, c" which he apparently was promised but the help never arrived. That is not the fault of Kevin Mannix or Karl Rove, and sad to say that sort of behavior is not exclusive to 2004.

    There are people who applauded the slogan "we want our party back" because the party they had previously been active in had disappeared. These are the folks who were not young Deaniacs and may have been so burned out that they didn't participate in presidential politics except maybe in October. However, the revolution in party politics which Dean brought about really resonated with these folks, incl. me. Hooray for Todd for pointing out that those of us in the Valley don't think like Portlanders. Those of us who remember that the Democratic Party was more robust when the state party office was in Salem (coincidence? you decide)hope that in the future the Democrats will come to realize that Portland is not Oregon and in the future the House elections will be run more intelligently.

    It has been over a decade of Republican control. Maybe it is time to throw out the caucus blueprint (rumor has it that if the choice is conforming to the blueprint in all districts or winning an election, some in the caucus would rather conform to the blueprint and lose than diverge from past procedure and win)and listen to the voters of the districts, rather than the "professionals".

    Meanwhile, let me warn you there are lots of cynics. There are debates on whether Portland Democrats are clueless, not aware that Oregon is more than Portland, or just don't want to share power with those outside the Portland area.

  • Aaron (unverified)

    As well, I have been a regular again for the Billy Reed's DFA/DFO group since the election. I have been compiling a list of the overlooked elected offices that Gov. Dean has be preaching about within Multnomah County; these offices are School District Boards, Fire and Water Districts. I know my elected officals--neighborhood association(based on who shows up and interacts with N.A.), city, county, school, water, state-level, statewide, and federal.

    Todd--next cycle we work harder to get Rep. Dalto, Sen. Winters and the other R's out of your guys hair.

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    One good way to start would be for whatever is for each county's Democratic leadership, or DfA, or any of the organizations locally, to grab those lists they used to walk precincts and TOUCH BASE with the Democrats. Send a simple mailer!

    I'm in Marion County (Keizer) as of about last May, and I've heard NOTHING. Sure, we got canvassed by ACT two or three times during. But meanwhile, 9,000 of us voted against Kim Thatcher for House, and we're damn sure not going to get any mail from HER telling us when the next County D Precinct Meeting is.

    I think it's fair to say that organizing, even if it's just to see who you've got, is a year-round sport now.

  • LT (unverified)

    This concerns the effectiveness of The Bus Project vs. other organizations. Since one of my relatives lives in Jackson County, I am aware that candidates as well known / respected as "everyone knows Dr. Bates" have a leg up when it comes to running in a tough election. I also know that well organized campaign help is very important. And what I have heard about the Bates for State Senate election is that credit goes to the Bus Project, not traditionally organized Democrats.

    What I have heard is that locals helped by Bus folks, rather than what some would regard as Portland central command, helped win the election.

    One of the major organizing ideas for the next election cycle should be to get the message to the old timers that the purpose is to win elections and the Bus model seems to be more effective than the establishment Democrats.

    I have no idea how many Dean people have been involved with the Bus folks, but it would seem like a natural alliance between 2 groups that emphasize grass roots over entrenched bureauracy and the "good ol' boys and girls".

  • Aaron (unverified)

    The Bus Project is non-partisan political group; to get progressive candidates elected based on their requirements: 1.Education 2.Environment 3.Economy 4.Equal Rights 5.Election Reform 6.‘Ealth Care 7.(Silent “P”: Peace and Public Safety)

    They also helped get Sen. Monnes-Anderson and Sen. Verger elected. They got the young voters involved, with other progressive volunteers from the Willamette Valley area and from the Multnomah County Democratic Party PCP's going out on the Bus, to these various targeted races that was the extra support that those campaigns’ message out with greater rate of contacts in a giving timeframe. As well, having elected Democratic officials speaks before and during the bus trip, too these targeted races that gave these volunteer canvassers a greater sense of importance and urgency for these candidate’s successful campaigns. But don’t forget that each of these candidates were state Reps before and had a good following of registered voters that stepped up and volunteered enormous amount of time and energy to get them elected to the Senate. Furthermore, the local county parties had some efforts on getting these three elected too. So yes, the Bus Project is a major boon for the smaller urban and the rural districts to get 40+ volunteers to canvass the area in a couple of hours and have a great time doing it and afterwards have great events for the campaign staff and the volunteer. The Bus Project is about getting progressive candidates elected and having fun doing it at the same time. As well, I think that DF/DFO and the Bus Project has many similarities and can work together. However, DFA has an interesting catch on its focus, from its website: … Democracy for America (DFA) is a political action committee dedicated to supporting fiscally responsible, socially progressive candidates at all levels of government—from school board to the presidency. … … … This organization will rebuild the Democratic Party from the bottom up—it will take time, but we must start building a base now for the future.

    Therefore, in most cases DFA/DFO can and will work with the Bus Project on many issues and candidates—if both meet each other requirements.

    I rode the Bus, 5 times this last election cycle—canvassing for Sen. Deckert (twice), Rep. Haas, Rep. Galizio, now Sen. Monnes-Anderson, now Sen. Verger, and for Jim Buck and Jeanne Cowan. As well, I work with DFA/DFO and the Multnomah County Democratic Party.

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    The Bus Project does great work, and I like 'em a lot, but to be honest, there is some overlap between them and "establishment" Democrats in Multnomah County. The latter established the former.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    Well, Deaniacs everywhere -- wherever they are -- better add to the surge wave cresting over the Capitol in Foggy Bottom on January 6. An internetworked push now can pop the mass hypnosis -- HEY! Bush didn't get voted for a second term. Pass it on. And if you have not heard all this is going on, and not heard next Thursday is Bush Elector Reject Day -- your TV medication is working.

    <h2>Ohio Action Alert from "thedeanpeaple"</h2>

    Action Alert Help Enlist Others in the Declaration of Intent (Jan 6th) Project (thedeanpeople.org). Can you commit a couple hours? If so, we need your help!

    Every day, more horrifying evidence comes to light that error, systematic suppression of Democratic votes, and other criminal efforts to manipulate the outcome have thwarted the true will of the people to elect John Kerry as their 44th President. Many groups are fighting for a REAL remedy to this crisis, and our effort, the "Declaration of Intent" project continues to play a key role (see thedeanpeople.org). Time is of the essense. In these final days, we need your help to extend our reach and help the public, and our leaders, to understand that on January 6th, 2005 it is the DUTY of each and every member of the Senate and House to INDEPENDENTLY JUDGE the validity of the appointment of each slate of electors. And further, that their judgment is not limited by "legal technicality", but rather, must be a moral judgment, grounded in our shared democratic principles. [boldface added]


    More at the same site:

    5 Talking Points Suggested by TruthInVoting.org, from Eugene, Oregon The following is a letter sent by truthinvoting.org to an aide to Senator Wyden, which they submit as an idea of a few major talking points to approach in contacting congresspeople and senators during the next 7 days: ... We feel that Senator Wyden and staff should at least be aware of the following before the January 6th session: ...

    January 5th Freedom Ride From Columbus to Washington On January 5 at between 4:00 and 5:00 AM a very special bus trip will embark from Columbus, Ohio to Washington D.C. The organizers are calling it "Freedom Winter" in reference to the "Freedom Ride" in Mississippi which took place at the height of the Civil Rights movement 40 years ago.


    Get crack'a'lackin. Deaniacs: SCREAM at the Senate. Wyden: Stand against ballot fraud or don't come home. Votes dead in Ohio.

  • Aaron (unverified)


    The establishment of Multnomah County realizing it had "political capital", by the excess democratic and progressive volunteers; that was underutilized. So some of them got this idea, formed it; now using this “political capital” and renown “slacker young voters” of the area; for getting voters motivated on critical issues. These issues, I listed above in the previous posting. So yes, I see where people like yourself and other here on BlueOregon; would be concerned about Metro-centric ultra-liberal issues coming on their communities’ doorstep. However, most people that I have talk too at the door in the areas outside of the metro area; are happy and very surprised someone from Portland are talking and trying to connect to voters about day-to-day issues like education, healthcare and the jobs. A key point of the Bus Project is to close the gap in-between the urban, suburban and rural divides. The methodology of choice is face-to-face at the door conversations with the individuals.

    Something that Dean preached as well to get to know your neighbor, your neighborhood and community at large.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks, Aaron.

    I went on 13 Bus Project trips in 2002, when I lived in Portland. My wife produced their first two video pieces. After the 2002 campaign I became a Multnomah County precinctperson, and saw the relationship. That's what I'm basing my previous post on, and I'm well aware of the mission.

    I also don't recall ever bringing up the grievances of downstate Democrats, so I think you're attributing positions to me that I don't hold. Sorry for the confusion.

  • Aaron (unverified)


    My bad about not knowing you are a local PCP.

    But for those others on the site that have had statements of discontent about metro-centric doings.

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    First I'd like to mention that I'm a supporter of the "Original Howard Dean" who was a moderate Democratic governor of a small state. Dean himself would be well advised to revisit who he was before he became a media monster.


    Advice to all of you DFAers out there, if you don't like certain aspects of your county party's behavior during the recent election cycle, get out there and join 'em. Fifteen or twenty people in each county can effect drastic change. In Clackamas County, HD-52, we took our membership from 6 pcps to over 50 BEFORE the Kerry Kraze started bringing 'em out of the woodwork. We had a chance to look at the county party and separate the doers from the placeholders. When we went to county reorg, we got some of our kids into key positions, made alliances with the doers that were already there, and the few placeholders that managed to retain their positions, we will just drive around.

    No need for bloodletting as the placeholders are quite happy to let the rest of us do the work and kick back and play their games as they always have. Next step is to form alliances with the other HDs in our county and get everybody singing out of the same songbook. Come 2006 we should have our HD leaders and pcps in place and trained, ready to work for the candidates.

    "The purpose of the Democratic Party of Oregon is to get Democrats elected to public office."-Jim Edmonson State Party Chair

  • (Show?)

    Love the passion expressed here! Sheesh, I didn't know anyone would read my little "We're Here to Stay" rant, but there you go. I felt excited as I wrote that post because we had just finished working on an email announcement that would be sent out to over 4,000 Dean supporters across Oregon. I wanted to yell into the Bloggosphere, Yeeeaaaaaghhh! We're coming to Salem, Eugene, Bend, Florence, Coos Bay, Milwuakie and, yes Todd, we're coming to Corvallis!! So --- ahem --- I hope that's ok with you guys. Btw, Todd, thank you. We absolutely need all progressives across the state to step up to the table and have a seat. We are still out in the garage building the table, though. More info to come soon! We need you and your passion and the Corvallis activists and we're working as quickly as possible. Incidentally, all you DFA/DFO folks across the state, start thinking about who among you are going to run for a Board of Director seat!

    Happy Blue Year --- Not an Oxymoron.

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