Democratic turnout numbers in the current election cycle are positively astounding. But what will be the lasting impact of that turnout beyond potentially electing a Democratic president? That is the question of my weekly syndicated newspaper column out today - and the answer is very, very encouraging for progressives.
All over the country, new organizations are working to create a permanent campaign -- one that takes its cues from the presidential strategy first outlined in 1976 by Democratic consultant Pat Caddell. Only this permanent campaign isn't a White House tactic -- it is a grassroots organizing doctrine that is trying to reconnect the Democratic Party with its roots as both a political and a service organization.
Last week, I attended a volunteering event with Democrats Work at a homeless shelter in Denver. I also met with Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer and philanthropist Bill Samuels -- both of whom are trying to get the Democratic Party to adopt the Blue Tiger model. Both organizations are all about using the Democratic Party as a vehicle for community service. And this is far from just altruism. They believe that doing this brands the party's values among the general public, and brings in more Democratic Party volunteers by creating the opportunity for political engagement all throughout the year -- not just at election time.
Both organizations report an uptick in participation -- and they attribute that to enthusiasm for this year's presidential election. And that could mean not only changing more red states to blue states, but making the Democratic Party more progressive.
As Donna Edwards recent primary victory over Rep. Al Wynn (D-MD) showed, higher voter turnout among base Democratic Party voters gives progressive candidates a better chance to defeat conservative "Bush Dog" Democrats - people like Wynn and potentially Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA). Those candidacies will be supported by the permanent campaign through blogs like DailyKos, OpenLeft and Eschaton and grassroots organizations like SEIU, and the higher turnout will be sustained by groups like Democrats Work and Blue Tiger Democrats.
Read the whole column here. The column relies on grassroots support, so if you'd like to see my column regularly in your local paper, use this directory to find the contact info for your local editorial page editors. Get get in touch with them and point them to my Creators Syndicate site. Thanks, as always, for your ongoing readership and help contacting local editors. This column couldn't be what it is without your help.