Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fort Hood

I have a personal connection to Fort Hood that makes today's events even sadder for me. I lived there as a kid, and many of my earliest and happiest memories are of our house in Comanche Village (now called Comanche I), just north of Tank Destroyer Blvd., on the west side of the base. The shootings, at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center on Battalion Ave., occurred about a mile from where we used to live.

Everyone who joins the military knows the risks, but you never expect something like this. My heart goes out to the dead and injured, and to their families and loved ones.

For Democratic Candidates to Win, Democratic Voters Need to Vote

You might think that's pretty obvious, but apparently not given what just happened in the Governor's race in Virginia.

Unfortunately for us, the Deeds campaign freaked out and read these polls wrong over the summer. Instead of attempting to energize more young and minority voters to the polls to make the electorate more representative of Virginia–they began running a campaign targeted to the people already planning to vote. Creigh began bashing federal Democratic priorities like “Cap and Trade” and health care reform to appeal to the conservatives that were headed to the polls.

And every time he did it, polls indicated turnout shriveled even further among Democrats and progressive voters–making the electorate even older, whiter, and more conservative. To which Creigh responded to by bashing federal Democrats more–which resulted in even more progressives becoming disengaged. Over and over, the cycle continued. Over the last six weeks, PPP polls indicated the share of the electorate that identified as Democrats declined from 38% to 31%. In other words almost one out of every five self-identified Democrats planning to vote on Labor Day has since then looked at Creigh Deeds and his conservative message, and decided they weren’t voting. Ouch!

I doubt Deeds could have won even if he hadn't run away from the Democratic base, so in this case it may not have made much of a difference, but in many 2010 races it probably will. Be interesting to see what lessons Democratic political "professionals" draw from this, and how they apply them next year.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Nope, No Racism Here...

Comment posted earlier today on the Wisconsin page at regarding Obama's visit to Wright Middle School:

>> Obama ... promotes the Race-to-the-Top initiative

Yeah? Which race does he intend to push to the top? Probably not mine, I’m guessing.

You gotta love freepers, the intellectual godparents of the teabaggers. Click on the link above and read the whole thing. These are the folks who claim to be the true voice of American conservatism.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Can the Policy Positions of Elected Dems Damage the Democratic Party?

The relationship between Democratic elected officials and the Democratic Party is complex. Usually the Party, local, state, or national, is controlled by the most powerful elected official at that level, although that isn't always the case. The Democratic Party of Dane County, for instance, is essentially controlled, quietly and behind the scenes, by a union, AFSCME Council 40.

But I digress. The question is if unpopular policy positions taken by Democratic elected officials can significantly damage the Democratic Party. The answer is clearly yes. Back in the mid 1960's the Democratic Party of Wisconsin lost more than two-thirds of its members because of Lyndon Johnson's support for the Vietnam War, dropping from 27,000 in 1964 to 8,000 in 1967. Even today, after more than forty years, the DPW has never come close to its former size, with current membership hovering a little under 10,000. There are many reasons for that, but one is a divisive war fought a generation ago.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Democratic Party of Wisconsin History Project

Have you ever been curious about the history of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin? To the best of my knowledge the only relatively recent info published on this subject is The history of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, 1949-1999, by Dr. Richard Carlton Haney, Professor (now emeritus) of History at UW Whitewater, Erica Feldkamp, past DPW Intern, and Paul Tewes, past DPW Executive Director.

Unfortunately, this pamphlet is out of print and very difficult to obtain, although a few libraries have copies. Several years ago Dr. Haney and the DPW granted permission to put the newer edition online, and after a long delay here it is:

You can read it online, print a copy, or download it as a (rather large) PDF file. It's short, only about twenty-five pages of text and ten pages of pictures, and reads like a magazine article (which it originally was), although the additional material added in the second edition makes it somewhat disjointed at times.

One thing I find particularly interesting is the ideological struggles within the party over the years. Ideology and primary fights are two things that can tear a political party apart faster than just about anything else. There are important lessons here for today's DPW, although they're not always quite as obvious as one might think.


The Democratic Party of Wisconsin History Project is my effort to preserve documents and other materials from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and whenever possible to make them available on the web. I have two reasons for doing so. First, as I've learned from trying to trace my own family history, unless there is an active effort to preserve historical information it will inevitably be lost. Second, I hope that making such information more easily accessible will help current party leaders make wise decisions and lead to a bigger and more vibrant Democratic Party.

Please help me with this project. If you have material from past party conventions, DPW reports, newsletters, pictures, or personal stories about the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, contact me (, and I will digitize them and put copies online to protect and preserve them for posterity.