Thursday, May 18, 2017

New Blood

Let me first say I have never met Ray Buckley or heard him speak. I have only heard of his positions and exhortations second hand from my fellow Hampton Democrats, who, for the most part really like him.

But what I have heard lately is, in the wake of our crushing defeat by Donald Trump, Buckley has been insisting is what we need in the upcoming elections is more of the same, more local, grassroots efforts on the part of neighbors talking to neighbors, the old back yard, across the fence New Hampshire thing.

Let me also say, having read his Wikipedia profile, the guy strikes me as a man who has suffered for his party, has worked longer and harder, first as a state Representative and later as a party chairman than I have, by a country mile. And he had a tougher upbringing than I did. All the cards were stacked against him, while I had a lot of support from my family and friends. He had to work for everything he got.

But then again, Hillary worked longer and harder than anyone else and that did not make her a winner.

Here is what I would like to say to Ray when he comes to Hampton to speak to our town Dems, who are still licking there wounds.

"Mr. Buckley, I don't know who first said it, but it's attributed to Einstein: The essence of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and to expect a different result.  
What I have heard you say is we need to get back to the knocking on doors, telephone calls and all the in town techniques--cookouts, clambakes, cake sales, yard sales. 
You say you have studies which prove this works, and you say that politicians in the know say you don't know which of these work but some part of them work so you have to do them all.
Well, let me tell you, when studies don't match what you see in the field, they are likely not true.

For one thing, neighbors don't talk over fences about politics  in towns like Hampton any more, if they ever did. My neighbors will raise a hand and say, "Hold on. Let's not talk politics or religion. We can talk lawns and kids but not politics. It'll only sow bad blood on the street and it won't change anyone's mind." 
The fact is, people who love Trump will  not have their minds changed by their neighbors. They got that love from somewhere and it's in their brains and you have no chance of dislodging it by knocking on their doors, if they would answer them, or by calling them on the phone, even if they see you on their caller ID's and answer. 

The fact is none of those techniques worked last time. 

Even when people answered their doors last time, they didn't  know you, even if you are both from Hampton. Hampton's too big for that. You had to explain you lived in the town. And you didn't change anyone's mind. And people were determined to get to the polls so you didn't really increase turnout.

And phone calls--forget that. You just got people angry bothering them at home. 
And the stark fact is, in 2016 from summer until November, we did phone calls and we walked the neighborhoods and never saw a single Trump person canvassing, never saw Trump literature on the door knobs, but we saw overwhelming Trump lawn signs. 
Trump found a better and more effective way without using any of those grassroots techniques.
He was said to have no real political organization, as Mr. Buckley would recognize a political organization. But he won without one. He was outspent in every county, and sometimes by 9:1 and still won.

The fact is Trump crushed us, beat Hillary and from what I can see, nobody from the top (Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Kane, DNC chairmen) on down has any idea how he managed to unleash a tsunami of resentment which washed away all our efforts.

You can deny it. You can say, we won New Hampshire for Hillary using canvassers, but that was 1000 vote margin in a state of 1.3 million and if we rely on that again, it will likely not even be  close.

The fact is, if you have nothing new to offer. If nobody at the DNC has anything different, any better analysis, we need to clean house, starting with you.

It was clearly the judgment of the folks in power at the DNC from Debbie Wasserman Schultz on down that Hillary was the safe choice, the intelligent choice. It is understandable they cleaved to this idea--the polls supported that idea.
But the fact is, they were dead wrong.
Trump counties in red.

I don't know if Bernie could have beaten Trump, but it seems pretty clear in all those counties that went from Obama to Trump, Bernie would have stood a much better chance than Hillary and our leaders, based on all their studies missed that.

You say the Dems spent a million dollars on focus groups and market research to come up with a new and better message and failed. 
Trump spent no money on any of that and he came up with a winning message, if we could just figure out what the hell that message was.

I'm not saying we can simply ape and imitate Trump and out Trump Trump, but Bernie saw the way last time. He had a few simple messages and pounded them through. 

If that's the formula, when we need a new leadership to embrace it and go with it.
Thanks for your service, Ray. But it's time for a change."


  1. Well Mad Dog, sounds to me like you and Mr Buckley need to have a talk, iron out what does and doesn't work based on data-if there is any..According to Mr Buckley, in NH, communities that go blue directly align with those that have an active ground game. Do you think that's just coincidence? Or do you think he's got his facts wrong? Why would he want to continue to embrace a losing strategy? It seems a two pronged approach remains the best strategy-you need the ground game, but you also need leadership and effective messaging from the top. It's the latter the DNC seems to be dropping the ball on..

    Also, statewide, redistributing the volunteer manpower seems to be in order-some communities-like yours-is inundated with calls and canvassers, whereas the larger cities may not be.. Also I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the idea that canvassing doesn't help get folks, who already said they'd vote, to the polls. People always say they're going to vote- and then they don't. Contacting them very well may be the thing that turns them into an actual voter, rather than a "wanna be"...

  2. Miss Maud,
    I'm not sure how studies can be done on these issues. I would think any really well designed studies would cost beaucoup bucks to carry off properly.
    You may be right--since we cannot know, we should not fail to do the work, even if it's ineffective, because we cannot know--it's possible it is effective.
    I do worry canvassers are like those people in those long lines waiting to donate blood in NYC after 9/11, when in fact there were no injured to transfuse that blood to--everyone in those towers had died.
    Mad Dog