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Little known fact: it is always campaign season.  Well, I suspect, assuming we don't re-live 2000 this year, people will take off Nov. 5-Jan. 1.  Other than that, it is always campaign season.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 10:45:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald. Jane on Firedoglake this morning announced that their - and others' - project to push Democratic Party candidates toward progressive policies is preparing for action as soon as the election dust settles. You might be interested?

paul spencer
by paul spencer (paulgspencer@gmail.com) on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 11:01:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1.  We have to get them elected first.  Don't put the cart before the horse.

  2.  I think a lot of people here already know this, so I didn't want to bore them mindless with background stuff, but I am already pretty seriously active in politics year round.  I got involved in the Dean campaign, yadda yadda yadda...  Now I'm part of a local Democracy For America organization which is (by no fault of mine) highly organized and active, at all levels of electoral politics.  We recruit, vet, train, endorse, adopt "socially progressive, fiscally responsible, ethically ... ethical" candidates, some of our members even run for office themselves, which is the case in the campaign I am currently working on.  Most of the campaigns we work on are local - everything from Metropolitan Water Reclamation Commissioner to Congress-critter.  The fact is, if these people win and suddenly become abhorrent, we wont work to re-elect them, and they know it.  We don't spend a lot of time on races that don't need our help (and hence would not be very accountable to us), with the exception of the Presidential elections.  And this is something most of us are working on independently.

I have no idea what Hamsher's group is going to do.  Obama has a notorious reputation of using grassroots progressives to get elected and then kicking them to the curb once he no longer needs them.  I probably should not be saying that right now - but it is a fact.  And from what I can tell, he is not running as a progressive, but a populist.  People should not be supporting Obama because they believe he is some progressive champion, or expect him to magically become one once he is elected.  Not going to happen, people.  I am ok with that.  After 8 years of Bush and the Christian Right, I am ok with a mainstream Dem leader who is not always going to go as far as I'd like him to.   In fact, after eight years of policies guided by a fringe ideological minority, I am down with some unsexy pragmatism.  I think we have some real problems that need addressed before we can start getting huffy.  

Anyway, I do most of my work at the local level.  I support these online initiatives, but feel like I can have a greater impact doing what I do now.  It's also infinitely more rewarding than the MoveOn genre of politics.  

3.  This diary was supposed to be about the experience of working on a campaign, NOT about bloggers and youtube and netroots and such.  I'm more interested in that, and I thought it would be interesting to the reader here - because I don't even know if you have anything comparable in Europe.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 12:47:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think there is anything comparable here in Switzerland. Before important votes or elections some parties have stands on the village square where the discuss with passer byes. We get the informations send home.

Also there is no voter registration, or the ability to be purged from a list and not be allowed to vote. When moving to a new place you have to register at the new community and then, if you are a Swiss citizen, you get automatically the ballots and the other stuff for elections send home. Then either you mail it back or bring it back at the actuall voting weekend, the place is usually at one of the nearest school houses.

by Fran on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 01:07:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think there is anything comparable here in Switzerland. Before important votes or elections some parties have stands on the village square where the discuss with passer byes.

Oh they used to do that here.  In the 19th Century.  LOL.  Sorry.  Teasing.  But "village square"?  Anyway, you've all seen Obama and McCain going around giving their stump speeches at what I guess are our versions of village squares: parks, gyms, etc.

Also there is no voter registration, or the ability to be purged from a list and not be allowed to vote. When moving to a new place you have to register at the new community and then, if you are a Swiss citizen, you get automatically the ballots and the other stuff for elections send home.

I don't understand, there is no voter registration, but you register in your community?  Register what?  Where?  This either sounds like the same as voter registration, or very Big Brother.  

We also have absentee voting, but I personally don't trust the postal service.  Plus, you have no way of knowing if your vote was counted.  When you go to the polls, you watch your ballot scanned, and get a receipt.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 01:26:09 PM EST
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It's normal in much of Europe to be required to register your address with the government when you move.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 01:29:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why?

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 01:30:03 PM EST
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No idea. It was strange to me when I had to do it in Germany.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 01:31:30 PM EST
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One of the worst things about moving around here, is that you have to go through the tedious chore of contacting every entity under the sun to change your address: post-office, board of elections (though you can now update your voter registration when you change your address with the P.O.), phone company(s), utilities, employer, bank, etc etc.  If "registering with the govt." could simultaneously change your address with all these entities, I might be able to get behind that level of fascism. :)

But all of these entities, it is obviously why they need to know your address - so you can get your mail, have electricity, etc.  And registering to vote is I guess de facto registering with the government, but it is not required.  If you want to work a decent job, you are required to fill out tax forms, so again, the gov't knows where you live.  Are they just streamlining things?  Can they say "No.  You can't live here."?


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 01:46:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
poemless:
Can they say "No.  You can't live here."?

No, not if you are a Swiss citizen or have B permit (sort of a green card).

by Fran on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 01:52:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, not if you are a Swiss citizen or have B permit (sort of a green card).

So your answer really is "Yes."  :)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 02:05:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you are a asylum seeker you can not move freely at first, only after you get a special permission, later you can get the B permission. But otherwise it is no.
by Fran on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 02:12:05 PM EST
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It is for the irs, social security, so the community know how many people,children there are to plan for kindergardens, schoolclass size etc. And it also serves as sort of a voters list. But I to not have to go and register to vote or declare myself democrat or republican or independent or what ever. You never have to wonder if you can vote or not.

I used to see it as big brother too, but after what happened during the last two US elections i do not consider it so bad anymore. I mean the US has become a big brother state without any central citizen registration.

by Fran on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 01:37:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But I to not have to go and register to vote or declare myself democrat or republican or independent or what ever. You never have to wonder if you can vote or not.

It may vary state by state, but we don't have to declare a party here.  In primaries, you have to pick one at some point, but that is for obvious reasons.

The whole voter purging stuff is very very very very rare, and has much more to do with the equipment or corruption.  Probably because of 2000, you think that is how it is, but for the VAST MAJORITY of Americans, you register, you get a card and a letter telling you where to vote, and you go vote.  Most Americans who have trouble voting are either non-English speaking or new voters unfamiliar with the process.  Florida wasn't stolen because of people being unable to vote, but because of stealing an election.  I don't see how your system prevents that, given that it is even less transparent than ours.  

Really - I think your registering with your government is basically the same thing as registering to vote, the registering is just done differently.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 02:00:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
poemless:
 I don't see how your system prevents that, given that it is even less transparent than ours.  

How is our system less transparent?

by Fran on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 02:04:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From what you have said, it is all done behind the scenes: you register directly with the government, you get a ballot, you mail it in, you get the results.  Don't misunderstand - it sounds incredibly efficient.  I'm jealous.  But I do enjoy that the public here is encouraged to participate at every little step of the process: from registering voters to being election judges, even if it does result in a lot more incompetence and therefore more room for error.  Its probably a different mentality.  I think if we put our government totally in charge of their own elections, we would have even less trust in the system than we have now.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 02:13:25 PM EST
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The citizens are involved in the vote counting and suprevising the vote counting. We have vote-count duty like you have jury duty.
by Fran on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 02:16:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's awesome.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 02:23:23 PM EST
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Not only that, but (in France) everyone can come in and participate in the counting. Except people who are professional prestidigitators. (and that's actual law)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 06:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same in Germany. It is all perfectly simple, open and transparent. You receive a notification some weeks before the election day, so you have time to assert your right to vote.

Alas, they introduced machine-voting in some constituencies for no good reason, it appears; there have been no reports of consistent vote-flipping in one direction so far. These days it has been tried before the Federal Constitutional Court. The case centres on the lack of transparency, visibility, participation; it is not without merits nor chances.

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 07:12:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Keep in mind that the Swiss vote at least four times a year. Direct democracy and all that. So the campaigning is not as hopped up as the US version, but much more low key. In addition to the people in the village squares, there are also public poster boards in strategic locations where parties get allocated space. I don't know by what method, but I would assume based on how many votes they got the last round? Anyway, these are poster boards exclusively used for election purposes, there is never anything else there. The posters are usually for yes/no on various referendum questions, and for persons in the case where there is also elected positions up. The voting booklet sent out includes the text of all the questions, as well as the opinions on the questions of 'all' parties and pressure groups (again, I don't know how these groups are selected).  
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 at 09:22:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It may vary state by state, but we don't have to declare a party here.  In primaries, you have to pick one at some point, but that is for obvious reasons.

That's because Illinois has open primaries.

for the VAST MAJORITY of Americans, you register, you get a card and a letter telling you where to vote, and you go vote.

Not including in "the vast majority" are the following states where if you haven't declares a party affiliation you don't get to vote in the primary:

States, commonwealths, districts, and territories that have closed primaries[citation needed]:
Arizona
California (Republican closed, Democratic semi-closed)
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida [1]
Kentucky
Maryland
Massachusetts (Semi-closed primary)
Nebraska
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina (Semi-closed primary)
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island (Semi-closed primary)[2]
South Dakota
Utah
West Virginia
Florida wasn't stolen because of people being unable to vote, but because of stealing an election.  I don't see how your system prevents that, given that it is even less transparent than ours.

Care to expand on that?

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 02:06:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry I wasn't clear.  I didn't mean the vast majority didn't have to declare a party, but that they are not purged from a voter list.  And I did say that in all primaries one eventually has to declare a party, even if unofficially, but that is for the primaries, because they need to know what ballot to give you. :)  No one is required to vote in a primary in order to vote in the general election.  Until this year, few people voted in primaries.  Anyway, I think there is a different attitude toward parties in America and Europe, and that's fine.  But we've discussed that many times before.

As for the last part, I say that based on what Fran has told me.  Here, there are private citizens present at every step of the election.

Anyway, my aim is not to say one system is better than another, but to let you know how ours works at the micro level, and maybe why we decided to do it like we do.  It's a DEEPLY FLAWED system we have, but I think for different reasons you think it is.  I think it should be standardized, the same in every state, in every precinct.  And I think it's obviously open to corruption.  But I also think there are really wonderful aspect of it.  

I mean, I did title this diary "Hell is Democracy".

:)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 02:22:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because they've always done so? It might be because border control is harder (especially with borders in mountains), so they prefer to have weaker border controls, and more controls once already in the country. You are also supposed to register wherever you sleep, but this is done automatically by hotels (and ignored by everybody else).

In Italy (and, I think Switzerland?) the police even visit you apartment, to make sure that it is big enough for the number of people who are supposed to be staying there.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 02:19:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yikes.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 02:23:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stems from the pre-revolutionary Polizey-state. Know your subjects. Didn't the French (Fouché ?) introduce concierges to look after the citizens?

For the local administration the register of residents is mainly important because German communes get money per inhabitant. Thus there was recently a place in North-Rhine-Westphalia where one did not de-register the local dead. ;-)
At a time when the crime of procuration had been abolished in Germany I recall seeing a Swiss policeman on TV checking the bedding for proof that it had been warmed by two.

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 06:42:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German communes get money per inhabitant.
They get money from the Bundesländer instead of setting their own taxes?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 07:10:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
poemless:
I'm more interested in that, and I thought it would be interesting to the reader here - because I don't even know if you have anything comparable in Europe.

The UK has canvassing - in fact it's often done by candidates rather than their representatives, because most constituencies are US county sized rather than US state sized.

There's no GOTV effort. There's no tradition of town halls.

Public speeches and rallies have all-but died a death too. Sometimes there's A Speech from A Location, but it's impossible to imagine a potential prime minister being interesting enough to fill a stadium. (Unless perhaps they were fascists and trying to go Nuremberg.)

There's a lot of TV punditry and idle chatter, and TV interviews are the main shop window.

Most party offices have only a handful of people working in them, even at election time. Not that this matters, because although there are nominal candidate selection committees, outsiders are regularly parachuted in from head office.

None of this encourages direct participation. But I realised recently that this was a proverbial feature and not considered a bug. In both of the main parties, opportunities for getting involved have been deliberately narrowed and centralised over the last couple of decades. It's hard not to feel the Lib Dem leadership would like to go the same way.

The only thing resembling populist politics is coming from the far right here.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 05:50:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Politicians generally don't canvass much themselves at the higher levels.  Too much potential for nasty voters on the opposite side saying nasty, and turning it into a big press moment.  Obama does canvassing himself now and then, but that's all I've seen, and it's more of a photo-op thing than anything, I'm guessing.

Plus, he can generally get tens of thousands of people to show up to rallies, so canvassing would be an inefficient use of his time.  It might be good for McCain, since no one shows up to his events.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Nov 1st, 2008 at 08:46:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The candidate I am working for has personal knocked on like 90% of the doors in his district!  He's a bit of an over achiever...

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 at 11:19:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but you're better at this stuff than I am.  I'm awful at talking to people.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 03:28:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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