The Local Party
and what you can do...
Storming the barricades may sound heroic and romantic, and in the
movies and in our dreams it may look quite effective, but other
parties have tried that before unsuccessfully. Before any
change can take place, the game that is in place needs to be changed,
and that is not an easy task. Before the game can be changed you
have to play the game that is in place successfully, and that can
only be done successfully when you deliver what the mainstream wants.
It is good to keep in mind that in a two party system (in district
elections) the second choice has no voice. Second best ideas
are not going to make it. You may think society is best run when
abandoning all cars and make public transportation free and
that everybody is going to love it once it has been put in place
but this way you and your party will not going to make the
change happen. Instead, the more extreme your ideas in the eyes
of the mainstream, the less likely the game will ever get changed,
and if the game is not going to get changed your ideas will not
even see a partial light of day. Out of necessity, local parties
have to be pragmatic and deliver their constituency absolute
loyalty until the system is changed.
In the color scheme drawn at the top of this page you can see how
the two colors blue and red are situated one above the other. These
two colors are somewhat in a balance, and they stand for the two
parties that are most often found in local governments: the Democratic
and the Republican party. If you come in with completely new
yellow ideas, you are not going to be able to get any seats
because both red and blue tightly control what is most important:
the center. As you can see this color scheme visualizes the
powers as they exist in a balanced two party district system. The
shapes show the spheres of influence, while the outcome can always
only be a single seat. The single seat that is up for elections
is located in the center and the center is portrayed here as purple.
In a location with the Democratic and Republican powers more or
less in balance, the center will either flip towards blue or towards
red in the next election. The only party that will therefore get
the seat in the next election is the party that is or that
comes close to being purple. As we all know, the opposite
of purple is yellow, and your new ideas (no matter how realistic
and wonderful) will most likely be too far out in the eyes of most
voters. A new party with a new idea must strike a chord with the
voters that is extremely strong, and that will only happen sporadically.
Only by delivering something close to the middle will your Local
Party increase the chance, in general, to grab the available seat.
Like it or not, the Local Party has to go mainstream if it wants
to be successful. The good thing about that is that you will be
vying for a place of political power while representing the local
needs best because the Local Party demands that you stay close to
what the mainstream wants. Another benefit is that you will not
represent those blemished Democratic and/or Republican parties that
people have started to dislike; the Local Party delivers a real
alternative to what is in place.
Blue Party control
Most cities in California are either more Democratic
or more Republican. The situation where both parties are in balance
does not happen much or at least not for long. Depending
on your local situation, the Local Party needs to bow to what the
mainstream wants. If your city or county is more blue than red,
the Local Party will be more blue. There is a chance to add some
purple and/or a little bit of green to the Local Party's program,
but not too much. The mainstream is king; as said, the second choice
has no voice. Only the political ideas that come close to the mainstream
can actually be translated into a council seat. In this situation,
do not even think of orange or red (yellow was already out of the
question). The Local Party's success is based on this mantra: a
voice against the establishment is the voice of the (new) establishment.
The reason must be clear by now: in a two party district system
the second choice is of no importance. First base is covered by
the winner, the second base does not exist.
Red Party control
If the local situation is the reverse, and the red
is most often in control, your Local Party will be mostly red as
well, but you can add a touch of purple and orange to the mix. Not
too much, and certainly no yellow, green, or blue. There is nothing
shameful in fully copying the program of the party that has been
in control for forever and a half. The Local Party would still be
the alternative finally delivering a real alternative
in that it has no corrupted ties to special interest groups nor
is it forced to deliver party loyalty to their political nieces
and nephews at State level. While it may be weak to not have these
connections in place, it can be strong to be independent and not
be under the influence of other interests. Remember that the more
Local Parties have seats in local governments all over California,
the less important it becomes to have Democratic or Republican 'friends'
in Sacramento. In the long run, after the Local Party has been established
well, a separate State Party will try to move into Sacramento's
Assembly and Senate and help create the democratic change we need.
Each city and county can only have one Local Party. The one who
sets up the first Local Party basically establishes the Local Party.
As must be obvious from the color schemes above, it does not mean
that the ideology of the Local Party is set in stone by the first
few people, but of course they can influence it more. Before you
can call yourself the Local Party of a city or a county, localparty.org
will look at your program and compare it to what voters have done
in the last ten years. If it is not too far off, you will be placed
on the official list of localparty.org. Of course no grass
roots organization can be fired up by an umbrella organization somewhere
far away. What is needed are enthusiastic volunteers who want to
do the footwork, the organizational work, the presentational work,
the paper work. In short, the works...
Since the Local Party is a party based on grass roots while maintaining
grass roots throughout its life time, the most important ingredients
are the local volunteers. Naturally, the Local Party needs candidates
running for the regular seats (not for the leadership seats),
but more importantly is the need for understanding the local needs.
That most desired result can be achieved by having the Local Party
be comprised of local volunteers that are honestly willing to stick
to this party's mantra: local, local, local, local. Though the party
is based on ideas, we all need to keep an open mind in that dogma's
are only welcome when they truly represent the local needs. The
Local Party should not be a place for fanatics, unless it is because
we fanatically represent the general local needs. No matter the
beauty of specific goals, when only a few people consider them important,
the Local Party should not invest heavily in what are actually the
specific needs of the few.
As discussed on other pages, this is not the time to set up a State
Party, and even when the time is there is it prudent to keep the
name Local Party available for the local level only. Once it is
obvious Californians want more democracy in our state we will establish
that new level.
Remember that all Local Parties want overall political change.
As long as the Local Party is small the system is just fine, but
when the Local Party becomes large enough in its city or county
it will implement the change from the archaic two party system into
a more modern version of democracy. Which change is best? The change
that delivers the best results for all of us. But before we can
get there, we need volunteers who are willing to work the system,
who want to investigate and represent the local needs at the local
level, who are loyal to their community first and accept that best
communities are built on widespread cooperation instead of following
the narrow road of special interests.
Though it is healthy to have good, deep, and long discussions about
issues that really matter, it is important to keep two rules of
thumb in mind for the Local Party. The first rule is based
on the question whether an issue is truly a local need that merits
a long and sometimes painful discussion. Let's take a divisive state
and federal issue as an example and see what the Local Parties can
and should and should not do. While in San Francisco the issue of
gay marriage may indeed be a strong local issue, of interest to
many voters, same-sex marriage is really not a local issue. Bakersfield
may also have many residents up in arms about this marriage change,
but here too there is no local issue with gay marriage. We may see
some local interest building around this issue in San Francisco
in favor of equal treatment in city charters, and its Local Party
may therefore choose to voice this particular need, but it will
not make same-sex marriage an important issue. In Bakersfield this
issue may prompt voters to voice support for restrictions on same-sex
benefits, but here too the Local Party will not do much at all.
It may be be easier to pull off here since there are fewer homosexuals
in Bakersfield than in San Francisco, but this issue simply does
not belong to the local level. For both Local Parties voicing a
stance in favor or in opposition to gay marriage is not based on
anything the locals government can change; it is exactly the divisive
stuff that belongs to the state and federal level. Voters in San
Francisco and Bakerfield may very well think similarly about many
issues, but this state and federal issue is actually pushing them
to one of the two national parties for no good local reason.
For the Local Parties, would this then be an issue for a State Party
or a Federal Party? Most certainly, but the Local Party is not invested
on this level and can only lose out when local politics are uprooted
by state and federal politics. While you agree with the Republicans
or the Democrats on some issues, you are also stuck with the whole
enchilada when you vote locally for a state and federal party. Your
Local Party is not affected by state or federal issues. Most local
issues are not based on same-sex marriage: the roads you can build,
the new housing you can provide and the level of local taxes you
may want to impose. Let's keep the state and federal issues outside
the local prism. Local Parties are also not affected by what other
Local Parties do or say. As mentioned before, while it is true that
Republican districts benefit from a Republican majority at the state
level, and the Democratic version delivers benefits to the local
Democratic districts, the more Local Parties there are, the less
the state and federal agencies can and will discriminate on the
local level. The in-and-in corrupted party line-financing, for instance,
can get moved to the side line by voting for your Local Party.
The second rule is based on the question whether an issue
is truly a larger local need. Are many people affected by this issue?
While we mostly agree that we need to remain compassionate about
our fellow citizens and maintain a level of overall responsibility,
it is quite easy to get lost in the smaller theoretical details
of reality. Though some minutia should not hold us back, we should
avoid splintering ourselves over issues that are not carried by
the larger local community. Therefore dividing issues are only worth
our breath if the people we represent are divided on this issue
too, find this an important issue, and desire a short-term solution
or decision. By then discussing the local issue in public we can
learn more ourselves and educate the population at the same time
in the process. A good fight is nothing to be ashamed of, as long
as we keep in mind that the Local Party desires to be the voice
of local needs. Infighting that is not a reflection of community-wide
discomfort about a subject should therefore be avoided. As a last
resort, when the population at large is divided on an issue the
Local Party officials can vote their own consciences; otherwise
there is the moral obligation to closely voice the voters' desires.
You may think that the Local Party sounds very middle of the road,
and you are right. However, each middle of the road may be entirely
different in each community. Except for wanting to deliver change
to the archaic democratic process of California the Local Party
desires to be an empowerment of local needs even when that may mean
no further change at all. If the population is not interested in
hothothot change of their direct surroundings, a Local Party
official will not actively seek to implement an ultramodern multi-million
dollar project, just because in his or her mind it will benefit
the local economy. If the local population likes their lives better
without the project than that is just fine for the Local Party too.
It can not be said often enough: in district elections the second
choice has no voice. Not until the Local Party comes out as the
overall winner in a city or a county and was then able to
change the democratic game to be more fair not until then
can the Local Party be divided into separate political camps. In
district elections only one wins, while in proportional elections
the people are represented according to their varied political wishes.
The goal of the Local Party is to represent the local needs, and
will help create overall democratic change once it has the
majority of seats in the city or county.
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