Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC - June 1, 2009
It's all about process. Even though we are several hundred years old, the American System is a "work in progress." We're still evolving, fine-tuning, and hopefully getting better. Growth for a nation (or political party) is sometimes a jagged path rather than a straight line. Review and petition, discussion and revolt all play their part in refining the political process. We didn't learn to hold the tea cup correctly by just picking one up. We don't learn to conduct flawless elections by merely signing up to run as election judge! The Democratic Primary of 2008 showed people in Texas that there is room for much improvement beyond the mere electronics of voting machines.
It isn't about Obama or Hillary. It isn't about Democrat or Republican. It is important, I think, to examine what occurred in that election cycle and to evaluate what really went off track. We need to know where it departed from reflecting the intent of the voters in order to know where to work, petition, influence, and demand that it is improved for the next race.
It is also important to see what worked right and be thankful and appreciative to the millions of people who did their part. That includes people who disagreed with each other, voted for different candidates, worked for opposing campaigns, and donated/volunteered on all sides. Process includes everybody.
The candidate who is declared the winner of any election should be the one selected by the majority of the voters. The process for recording and reporting votes should be as flawless as it is humanly possible to make. The percentages reported up each step of the party selection process should mesh with the percentages of votes cast per candidate from the bottom to the top. (See Texas Presidential Voting Results)
It is important for those who market political candidates to understand that the perceptions of the people determine how folks vote and participate in the process. In Texas, no Democrat won any statewide office during an election cycle in which many thought the Democrats had "the" advantage. (See Texas Statewide '08 Voting Results)
It is beneficial for people who care about issues and causes to understand the events, behaviors, grassroots synergy, campaign strategies which worked, backfired or fizzled and their impact on voters' behavior. Those things all carry through and impact legislation.
Legislation authorizes or prohibits policies which create, fund, or implement infrastructure, human services, education, environmental protection, business development, property protection, transportation, etc.
One governor can veto legislation passed by every member of both houses! One Lt. Governor in Texas can stall legislation favored by the majority of the Senate. It is all a connected link and streams back to the citizen's perception of the process and their participation at the voting booth. One underfunded dark-horse candidate who receives only a thin slice of the votes can bring issues to the minds of politicians and voters which make their way into planks of major candidates and get passed in legislation.
It is important for people to know that their preference is registered accurately or we stop participating. (See Texas Voter Registration and Voter Turnout)
Those who market candidates need to understand the relationship between public perception and voter participation. When marketing overshadows democratic process, and people realize that their votes do not determine the party's nominee or ultimate winner of the seat, there are reactions. The PUMA movement in the Democratic Party in 2008 is a good example. It has crossed party lines, uniting women and causing both parties to examine the united power of female voters.
Jim Mattox's last speech was testimony at the West Committee on Texas-Two Step. Mattox told Democrats what needs to be changed for Democrats to win again in Texas.
Evaluation and reflection are tools which help us keep the process honest. It is how we are able to take that jagged line and straighten it out again, so that we can truly reflect what many think America is all about.
There were counties in Texas where voter participation exceeded 30%. There were others where it was less than 2%. After the balloons and confetti of election night have settled and the last acceptance or congratulatory/ concession telephone call has been made, it is beneficial for everyone for some to step back and look at the numbers, plug in the events and evaluate the message, examine the irregularities in the voting process and analyze the election cycle as a process. See Change the Caucus System - End the Texas Two-Step) It is hard to accurately plug in values for "likeable" or "unlikeable" and personality factors. However, it is possible to look at turn-out, party organization, campaign resources per voting area, and more importantly, party rules, state election law, and chaos in various parts of the process which created irregularities.
We can learn to avoid problems by experiencing them. The primary of '08 can be utilized as a learning experience for all of us. Democrats, Republicans, PUMAs, Obamabites, and Independents can all look at that election and identify places we need to improve. Participating lets us work with others to do it better next time.
I may not agree with you. You may detest everything I usually stand for. However, I will fight to the death for your right to have your opinion accurately recorded and reported at the voting booth. To me, the precept of one person one vote and that vote counted accurately without harassment or discrimination is the American Ideal.