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February 19, 2006

Best Practices Idea #1: We Write the Platform

At least one LD and one county Party organization are offering interesting discussion items in meetings leading up to the March caucuses "to lay the groundwork for a more informed, more reasoned, more efficient, and more participatory platform-building process" as N in Seattle said of the meeting to be held in the 43rd LD on March 4th. He says, in a post over at Washblog:

An important expression of the party's grassroots, of what it means to be a Democrat, is the party platform.  We'll take our first big step toward writing amendments to the state platform -- bringing it up to date for the 2006 political season -- in just a few weeks, at the precinct caucuses on March 4. 

Yeah! There will be three sessions that anyone can come to between now and then to discuss real issues that matter to us as a country, issues like "Iraq and the Middle East", "Terrorism, Homeland Security and Civil Rights" or "Electoral Reform." During each session, people can attend and select which discussion group they want to participate in.  Four different topics to choose from each time.  Out of those discussions come possible platform planks.  Congressman McDermott will kick off the first one.  This is so cool - make meetings interesting and involving people in making policy.  N goes on:

I have high hopes for this approach to precinct caucuses.  An informed populace, I believe, will lead to an informed and relevant grassroots platform.  In addition, I believe that a lot of LDs, party officials, and other interested people are looking to learn whether this method will encourage participation in the platform process by the District's residents.  Based on suggestions originally presented by 43rd LD chair Dick Kelley, the organization's Executive Board is enthusiastic that we'll continue to lead the state's Democrats in party participation, political engagement, and, well, just being the most Democratic Legislative District in the state of Washington.

Then Emmett adds information about the Thurston County Democrats who are trying a different approach to inviting participation in the state platform-building.  They have scheduled five forums on different days with a single topic for each of the first four: 1) Economy, 2) Environment, 3) Health care and 4) Education.  The topic for the last one is still open and ideas for the topic of that session are being solicited both online and at the first forums.  Ideas get passed on to the precinct caucuses and then proposed planks will be voted on at the county convention in April.    

Can you see me jumping up and down?  This is so cool to have different groups trying different things and then, I assume, sharing how it goes with other LD's and counties.  Let us know how it goes.

Posted by Lynn Allen on February 19, 2006 at 09:29 PM | Permalink


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Thanks for your support, Lynn. I'm fascinated that quite a few LDs are trying something to facilitate real interactivity in working out a responsive and responsible party platform over the next several weeks. The outcomes should prove instructive.

The process of creating the biennial platform is decidedly in need of rethinking. The idea that it's somehow possible to draw together the scattershot results of hundreds of separate precinct caucuses into a coherent whole is demonstrably unworkable and unfocused.

Posted by: N in Seattle | Feb 19, 2006 10:11:22 PM


Yes, a little good organization and good systems thinking would go a long ways here. It is interesting to me to see so many people who've worked where good process is consistently used bringing that into our Party. It will be a transition since it's so different than what we are used to.

Posted by: Lynn | Feb 20, 2006 10:07:15 AM

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