Yo, DPO! It's pronounced "Ory-gun"

By Frank Dufay of Portland, Oregon. Previously Frank contributed "Tri-Met's Big Blunder".

Got a call last week during dinner. Glad to have the call. All my recent donations have gotten my wife on Democratic mailing lists, not me. I'm feeling sorta rejected though, yeah, she IS nicer than me.

Sorta feel like I've been dancing around the Democratic Party my whole life...always voting Democratic, but the Party? Hard to forget my first involvement was "All the Way with LBJ" in Junior High. Soon to be "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today" by my junior year in High School.

Still... lately, trying to connect to BlueOregon, the "progressive" movement, I donated to the likes of McMinnville's Sal when the trolls bit and earlier, giving it up for Howard Dean.

So... when the Democratic Party of Oregon finally called tonight, I was ready. Had my Visa in hand. I wanted to do my part, though far more modestly than asked.

Then the woman, calling from "the Democratic Party of Oregon" asks...your address is blah, blah, blah, Ore-GONE?

"Excuse me?" I inquire. "Where are you calling from?"

"Minnesota. For the Democratic Party of Ore-GONE."

Uh, well, whatever...

At least, I guess, it's not India.

  • JMG (unverified)

    In the outstanding book "Who Will Tell the People," Bill Greider points out that we no longer have political parties in this country as they are traditionally understood--instead we have fundraising machines coupled to mailing lists (and, worse, phone lists). Blogs like this are a step back in the right direction, but there's a long way to go ...

  • JohnH (unverified)

    Another good reason for giving to MoveOn instead of Democrats--they don't call.

  • ellie (unverified)

    When I've worked campaign phonebanks in the past, people would often ask where I was calling from (hopefully I don't sound like I have an accent -- I'm a native!) and they always seemed a bit surpised but pleased that I was a nearby "local." I think there is definitely some of that sentiment in the rural vs. urban Oregon debate as well.

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    You should hear what they do to "Kulongoski."

    I wish we didn't have to do this, but Dollars for Democrats is one of our most successful fundraising programs. We contract with a firm that does this for state parties all over the country.

    It takes money to run a party. This is one of the ways we raise it. Generally, these folks make a real effort to train their people. I will pass on reinforcement in how to say "Orygun."

    And if you'd like to help out without a phone call, just click here.

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    I will never give another dollar to Move On.

    I signed up for their "Grand Oil Party" bumper stickers a while back. I paid for a pack of them and have a donation at the same time.

    My stickers never came. First there was a message about them running out and that a second batch was being made and shipped out. By the time it was evident that second batch was never going to arrive either, it was too late to dispute the charge with my bank.

    I contacted Move On multiple times about this, with no response whatsoever.

    I can understand not getting a sticker if it was for free and they'd run out. But I'd not only paid for them, but gave a donation at the same time. And they never had the decency to respond, offer me something else, refund my money, etc.

    As such, I will never give them money again. My money goes to the DPO, county party, candidates I support, and the Bus Project.

    Besides, need I remind you how important our election was here last year, yet Move On came in and was using local volunteers to make calls to other states?

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    I second Jenni's comments. And I get about two to three e-mails a day from Move On, which now just collect in my spam filter. Ever try to actually send information TO MoveOn? For an organization that claims to be grass roots (okay, net roots), it is awfully difficult, if not impossible, to e-mail someone in the organization. When you click on the "Contact" link, you haveto go through about six pages before getting to a place where you can write a message. And that process leave you with the feeling that the message is headed straight for the cyber circular file. It seems to be a totally top-down organization and for that, they can go screw themselves.

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    I wish we didn't have to do this...


    I get that, I guess. I made a small contribution. But when we're approaching a billion dollar presidential election, where pundits say you have to have a hundred million in hand to be taken seriously...we need something different than dialing for dollars to keep this democracy afloat.

    "Public financing" was going to take the influence of big money out...and all it did was raise the spending bar so high that now serious candidates are disowning public financing. So much for that reform.

    There's got to be a better answer. At any rate, I just thought the exchange was funny...that the Democratic Party of Oregon was calling me from contracted employees from out of state...and, I guess what follows logically then is why NOT contract this out to service centers in India, if we can save a few bucks?

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    "Public financing" was going to take the influence of big money out...and all it did was raise the spending bar so high that now serious candidates are disowning public financing. So much for that reform.

    Public financing in presidential elections is a voluntary system, and presidential elections are now so expensive that it's easy to overwhelm a candidate who takes public financing with corporate dollars and soft money bundles.

    Organizations that claim to support public financing in Oregon have never made a serious effort to support public financing efforts. Indeed, many of these organizations joined with AOI and big timber in spending more money opposing contribution limits in the last election than was spent on the entire public financing campaign the last time it was placed on the ballot (and defeated badly) in Oregon.

    The reason?

    Executive directors of political organizations have a built-in conflict of interest when it comes to reforms that will actually reduce the ability of money-players to control our political process.

    Their first responsibility is not to preserving our democracy, but is instead a fiduciary responsibility to the organizations that they are charged with leading. And despite the Dean surge of 2004, the money does not, by-in-large, come from small donors.

    We had a $58.8 million election in Oregon in 2006. $42.3 million of that total came from contributions in amounts of $5000 or more, and roughly half($28.5 million) from came contributions of $20,000 or more.

    Only $440,000 of that $58.8 million came from contributions in amounts of $100 or less.

    To put all of that into a frame of reference, about 150 contributors paid for half of our election in Oregon in 2006. The "catastrophic" campaign finance reforms that were being promoted in Oregon last year would have seriously affected the giving of about 2500 people in this state of 3.6 million people.

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    Couple of mistakes in the above comments:

    I made a big mistake on the misc contributions of $100 or less. The actual total was more than $5 million.

    $67 million was raised, not $58.8. $49.4 million came from contributions of $5000 or more. $33.7 million of that total came in amounts of $20,000 or more.

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    Bill Greider's book "Who Will Tell the People" is an excellent analysis of what was wrong with political parties in 1993, when it was published.

    A lot has changed in the intervening time, particularly for the Democratic Party. See Howard Dean, etc.

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    You're right, that's a good book. I had to read it when I went to work for the PIRGs on the New Voters Project. It was a really good analysis, especially for someone like me who was just getting involved in the Party around that time and didn't know some of that back story.

    It would be interesting to see an updated version of that book.

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    I'm glad Frank contributed a modest amount to the DPO -- a 36-county strategy takes money to implement, and the money the party is raising now will be instrumental in competing with Gordon Smith's war chest next year.

    Frank: There's got to be a better answer.

    A direct phone call and "ask" will always be more effective than an email or fundraising letter; volunteer calls will almost always have a higher success rate than a paid phone program. I encourage Frank to himself volunteer with the DPO to make these higher quality calls -- I'm confident that he knows how to correctly pronounce the name of our great state.

  • Anne Dufay (unverified)

    Sorry, Charlie, I agree the personal "touch" is always the most effective but Frank is officially (by wife-edict) not allowed to add any further volunteer commitments to his already overflowing slate. :-)

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