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, 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 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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