The aftermath of the 2016 election cycle has organizers, activists and even people who have never gotten involved in politics interested in making a difference. I’m meeting many who want to do something but don’t where to start.
Imagine if the Democratic party had a forum arranged to connect people for activity at the local level where stuff needs to happen like voter registration drives during non election years, speaking events, phone banking congressman, ect.
A place where activists, organizers and interested citizens can quickly access each other and collaborate at town/county/state geographies. Where 500 people in a city or town can sign a petition saying we demand congressman so and so to show up at high school xyz next month to explain some things. A place to discuss how many voter registrations are needed to help win the next election. To collaborate on data and facts about political realities they can influence, instead of fixating on nationally distributed media messages.
I know I would try using that tool, if it existed.
There are many reasons why this doesn’t and probably won’t exist. Reason one is all the censorship they would want on a site they run. Maybe it’s too impossible for the Democratic party to build it. But maybe it should exist regardless, and maybe we need to build it. If it’s built and used, maybe they will have to listen.
Starting a new political group and finding other members can be tough, especially in suburban/rural areas because you need to build your own communication system from scratch. Forums have a lot of this built in (moderation, tagged posts, reward systems, messaging, ect.). A tool like I’m describing would help those who are motivated hit the ground running.
The flip side of a national party facilitating something like this is many of the cause based groups that do it, but only within the reality of their cause. In my state of Pennsylvania, a new group focused on gerrymandering is gaining some steam. But that’s only one issue. There needs to be more collaboration among all the specialists of different issues in addition to empowering people who have never done anything before. The grassroots and those wishing to join their ranks need a quick way to connect.
Also, if local connective and real world collaboration are the end game, possibly some of the viciousness of online forum bickering and character assignation can be moderated better because people living in the same area just have to deal with each other. Like old times.
Hosting the site on a wide regional or national level provides the ability to browse and see what others are doing around the country while also having a space for your own area. Its about finding a space between a big national discussion that is placeless, and the Facebook style format where anyone can brand a page and create a group, leading to clutter.
Smaller towns don’t have to feel alone. Each geography matters more on the site because everybody else can see everything else that is happening and share with each other. Multiple “clubs” can still participate within a local space. It’s not about one group per town, or anything like that. It’s about letting existing groups in a town easily find each other to collaborate as well as helping new ones form.
My big takeaway from 2016 politics is the lack of importance placed on geography in the political process is killing the lefts ability to govern. After generations of media centric elections we are loosing the importance of on the ground organizing. There is a large societal fixation on winning symbolic victories throughout various national media channels, including tv, magazines, web, social media and more. It’s been this way for decades, and is getting worse. Conventional wisdom seems too focused on elevating voices in (typically corporate controlled) media spaces at the expense of local work.
Maybe it’s time to step back and collaborate on a more regular basis in focused geographies. Election only organizing isn’t going to cut it. We need a way to facilitate new traditions for how we spend our time thinking and acting on politics.
Perhaps the technology we already have could help. This isn’t anything new, it’s just arranged in a particular new way I haven’t seen done before.
I know there would be lots of issues regarding moderation, funding, and all that. Something like this could start out small (a few states?), but then grow national. I’m thinking of paying for something like this and launching it myself.
Just putting this out there to hear what smart minds have to say.
Thanks for reading.