What can progressives do locally to further our political causes?

Guest Post by George Entenman

I've been thinking a lot about how residents of Orange County can contribute to the efforts of the state and national Democratic Parties, in particular to the Kerry/Edwards and Bowles campaigns.

Should we contribute and work for state and national organizations, or can we work locally?

As far as I can tell, the national Democratic Party is pretty badly organized. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the stories I read in 2002 about how well we are organized were planted by Republicans to lull us into complacency (even though it's hard to believe that our liberal media would go along with that).

I was at local Democratic headquarters on election day in 2002 (I'd been laid off and had the time). I was asked to start phoning people late in the afternoon to encourage them to vote. That was when I rediscovered just how bad the lists are that the state party supplies the local party.

The state party takes Board of Election registration data and pays a service to find phone numbers for each voter and gives the lists to local parties. At least 50% of the numbers were no longer in service. Moreover, there was no information about the voters: were they likely to vote? Had they been contacted already by the Party? Etc?

My experience with the N.C. Democratic Party has been that they are of little or no help to local parties, and yet it's the local parties that have the best chance of doing face-to-face get out the vote (GOTV) efforts.

I'm pleased that the Orange County Democratic Party (OCDP) has improved immensely since 2002 under the leadership of Barry Katz, Nancy Park and others. We now have a database that will actually prove useful for the upcoming GOTV efforts. Not only that, it will serve as a "corporate memory" that will help us in the next election cycle as we build for the long term. All this has been done with no help from the state party (although there are signs that they are creating their own similar system).

I would recommend to all of you who are on the good side of the Force to help the local party. Here's how to contact them:

The southern OCDP office officially opens Thursday, Aug 5th. The address is: 121 South Estes Dr., Suite 103 A, 933-9662. It's on the Franklin St. side of the post office near University Mall. Drive into 121 and circle around to the left at the end of the parking and go back towards the building and you'll see 103 A. They're open 11-4 during the week.

And I urge you to contribute money to the OCDP. It will be spent on rent, phones, computers, etc. That has got to be a better use of our money than all that advertising on tv and radio.

George Entenman has lived in Chapel Hill for over two decades, and is the Orange County Democratic Party's volunter database builder/guru.



I like the 11-4 office hours. Seems like Dummycrats don't know what a hard day of work is all about.

Look's like Todd doesn't know what a "volunteer" is. If you've got nothing constructive to say, Todd, at least make your unconstructive comments somewhat lucid and based on conditions verifiable in the real world, and not ToddWorld.

"all of you who are on the good side of the Force" is real constructive...

Duncan, you are really wound too tight!

Todd, last I checked, you don't consider yourself progressive or a Democrat. Whine all you like, but your perspective as a conservative Republican is not particularly germane to this thread.

To others, I recomend ignoring irrelevant comments such as Todd's. If you're itching for a fight, feel free to visit him at http://HippyHillNews.com (with a name like that, you know there's "constructive" dialog going on).


So what you are saying is that you only want dialog from those you agree with. In this particular case, I am only kidding around and being taken far too seriously.

Merriam Webster defines dialogue as "a written composition in which two or more characters are represented as conversing." I think what both Duncan and Ruby are saying Todd is that your clever(?) one-liners are not contributing to a dialogue or a conversation. My observation is that you only 'kid around' when you are attacking/criticizing a politcal perspective different from yours. "Kidding around" implies playfulness rather than sarcasm.

Having a sense of humor goes a long way to attracting those independents we will be hearing about ad nauseum until november.

I find Todd entertaining and don't mind if he doesn't contribute to "dialogue".

We know Todd has a sense of humor to support a president who finds eating pretzels a challenge. Who protected Alabama from the viet cong, and is a Harvard/Yale legacy admit who performs at a 10th grade level......oops it hard to talk about GW with in lofty terms... sorry... Todd is it 4 more years of deficits and nation building? I can't find either the compassionate and certainly not the conservative in our current Pres... Please don't use Cheney language..

Todd is on to something with the 11-4 issue.

When it gets down to it, in the coming election, there has to be larger commitment of resources than 11-4, though 5 hours is better than none.

Sure, the Dems could emulate the neo-con thugs that have hijacked the Republican party and have corporate weasels open their checkbooks and hire outsourced help to bash the opposition, but that wouldn't be square pool would it ;-)?

Hopefully, following the Dean et. al. Internet true-grassroots organizing efforts, those 5 hours can be effectively leveraged.

George, I'm assuming that your DB contains likely voters from both parties, correct? I believe there's a number of Republicans ready to try something new.

Finally, if Mr. Blog wants to try to convince OP.org readers to re-up (no electronic vote cheating backdoor drafting please) for another four years of Hell, I hope Ruby will continue to allow him the priviledge.

George, Since Orange Co is so strongly Democratic, what value is there to a huge effort here? Wouldn't we be better served making a push in counties that might actually convert from Republican to Democratic?

Terri and others-

I think there are still plenty of folks that won't vote in Orange County unless there is an active drive to get them out to vote. I've been trying to figure out whether my time is better spent helping out the Orange Dems or targeting the county I grew up in over in the foothills, where the Dem party is in complete disarray and there may be no get out the vote effort in neighborhoods that would clearly vote Democratic. One thing I am doing here in the county is hosting a "precinct party". My friend Christine had one last month for Lincoln precinct that was very successful. We are hoping to have them in 30 precincts this year. Please consider being a precinct party host. It's easy and not that much work since volunteers will help you set up and cook and such...

Here's the current link to more info. http://www.duke.edu/~petrusz/

We're looking at doing all the parties on the same night, Sept. 9.

Terri, your suggestion is a good one, though I'd fine-tune it by adding that efforts could go towards increasing turnout in counties that are already Democratic but in other (rural) parts of the state. A few western counties (including Swain, which I'm leaving after several years to move back to town) consistently vote Democratic. There are also some predominantly African-American counties in the northeastern part of the state that typically vote Democratic, if my memory is correct.

We're talking small populations in rural areas, though. You can't exactly go door-to-door, and the local parties are probably tiny. And folks might not take to crazy liberals from Chapel Hill storming their counties. But it'd be interesting to run numbers and find out if large turn outs in these areas could help swing the state to Kerry/Edwards. Voter registration drives in these areas could help as well.

Does anyone know if they're still actually hoping for NC to swing Democratic in this election? Or did the campaign give up hope after recent polling?

Re: ToddTheBlog's remark about hours:

I think that the 11-4 hours are when the office is guaranted to be open, i.e., when an office manager will be there. The manager can schedule off-hour activities. I know that the office is available for phonebanking, meetings, etc. at other hours.


Re: WillR's question: "George, I'm assuming that your DB contains likely voters from both parties, correct? I believe there's a number of Republicans ready to try something new."

At this point, the database contains all the BOE records, so, yes, Republicans are included. However, we didn't bother

gathering Republican phone numbers because we have our work cut out for us contacting Democrats and Unaffiliated voters,

along with registering new voters.

As for knowing who is a "likely" voter, we don't have any such information yet. That is to be gathered in the next few months.

I wish I knew how to reach the Republicans you're talking about. I feel sympathy for them, now that their party has left them (what's an actual Conservative, who believes in limited government, to do?). However, I don't know how to find them. Any ideas?


Re: Terri's question: "George, Since Orange Co is so strongly Democratic, what value is there to a huge effort here? Wouldn't we be better served making a push in counties that might actually convert from Republican to Democratic?"

Terri, I personally am working in Orange County because I can. Rickie has contacts in another part of NC, and perhaps he can be more effective there.

Barry Katz tells me that Orange and Durham counties contribute 20% of NC's Democratic votes, so I suspect that registering more voters here will gather more Democratic voters than elsewhere; from what I can tell from new registrations in OC, new Democratic registrations far outnumber Republican ones.

But the bottom line is that I don't know the answer to this question. It reminds me of that other perennial question: should the Democratic party move to the left or to the center to attract more voters?


I'm still looking for ideas on how to act locally. The most specific suggestion is from Rickie, who point to Robert

Petrusz' site. Robert's idea for people to give parties on Sept 9th is just the sort of idea I'm looking for. Keep 'em coming, folks!

The key to Orange County is voter registration, because of the enromous turnover of younger voters. Even many ofthose that are registered have moved and need to report address changes. Orange County is at the very back end of a quadrennial election cycle, registration during the presidential election replenishes the well.

The reason that 50% of thr voter list does not find phone # matches is that 50% of the list is bad, students who have moved away, etc. Time is MUCH better spent registering new voters from the opening of the semester in a week or two through the Octobe r8 deadline than looking up phone numbers now. (of course, if someone wants to look up phone numbers, that's great)

Then, when the registratiin is done, phone numbers would be better found through the UNC online directory than through an outdated phone book.

The two best presidential election efforts in Orange County netted 7500+ new voters in a six week period. With voter registration being much easier in the past, that should be easily obtainable again, and new voters reminded to list their North Carolina Dirvers license number (or last four digits of the SSN if they do not have an NCDL) to avoid having to bring more proof of residence/identity to the polls. (this is a new requirement enacted in 2003)

To add on to Gerry's point, I think the OCDP should contact UNC student government about registering new voters. Last fall, student government was able to register 2500 voters during local elections. George, you should contact SB President Matt Calabria and see what OCDP can do to get registration campaigns underway before freshmen move in. Last year, the problem we had was that the BOE ran out of registration forms, and I think we even took alot more from Durham and Raleigh.


Last year I suggested (to SBP) creating welcoming packages for incoming first-year students that would include a voter registration card. Is Calabria going to do that again?


from the John Kerry website:


Register to vote! Get Kerry stickers!
WHEN: August 18 @ 10:00 AM
WHERE: between Lenoir and Student Stores on the UNC-CH campus

South Rd.

Chapel Hill, NC 27514
The Pit

HOST: Cristobal Palmer
INFO: Join me for a pit-sit from 10:00 to 14:00 on Wednesday the 18th, the day before the semester starts at UNC-CH. We'll have bumper stickers and smiles for everybody coming to buy lunch and textbooks. Please do contact me (cmpalmer@email.unc.edu) if you'd like to help!

maybe some folks should get up with Cris to coordinate efforgtd

The national Dems are trying to organize house parties to raise money for congressional races. The goal is to take back congress, since even President Kerry couldn't do much with Tom DeLay as speaker of the House. Here's a website:

Al Gore got approximately 1.2 million votes in NC. Of those, 90,000 votes came from Orange and Durham counties. That's about 8% of the total.
That's not 20%, but it is still significant. However, of the two counties (Durham and Orange), the potential for democratic votes lies most heavily in Durham...simply due to its greater population of registered democrats. Durham is not as organized as Orange County, so for the future, we need to work on Durham.

It's instructive to look at the state BOE registration statistics:


There are more unaffiliated voters in Mecklenburg Co than there are total voters in Orange! Nor did I know that the majority of registered voters in NC are democrats. And yet NC has gone Republican for the past couple of elections. This reinforces my view that the challenge for progressives (not all Democrats are progressives!) is to open up the conversation on social issues, such as gay marriage, abortion, corporate welfare, etc, underlying this election. Despite what the pundits believe, I think it's the social issues that are going to swing this election over to the Republicans--not the war.

As a registered "unaffiliated" (SP?too lazy to look it up) I'll be voting for Kerry in November--and anyone who doesn't get off their tail and vote ONE WAY OR THE OTHER had BEST not complain. At all. For the next four years. Doesn't matter that OC is a Dem stronghold--the STATE doesn't follow the electoral college system--EVERY VOTE COUNTS.

Tell you friends to vote. Tell your "of-age" children to vote. Tell them you don't care HOW they vote (which won't be true--but smile as you lie) as LONG as they vote. Because the system only works when we effing VOTE.

Melanie/is tired of less than 50% of the voting population picking the president

Democrats are determined to narrow this so-called "religion gap," if not to close it, in the coming election. Yet they are well aware that the challenge they face is at once daunting and complex. When several hundred religious leaders, scholars and advocates gathered in a chandelier-lit ballroom in the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC, in early June, the consensus was that the Democrats have an image problem. "Today, there is a growing misperception, fostered by right-wing political and religious leaders, that those who espouse progressive views are inherently antireligious," said John Podesta of the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank that organized the event. "The purpose of our effort is to remind Americans that there are historic ties between the religious community and progressives."

Office hours of OCDP HQ as posted on the website:

Mon-Thur 11-7
Fri 11-4
Sat 11-3
Sun 2-5



The Principles Project has attempted to identify a set of progressive principles. These principles were derived to a participatory, online writing project following the November election.

A Declaration of Progressive Principles
Drafted online by the members of The Principles Project and adopted March 1, 2005

We believe in America's historic promise of liberty, justice and the expansion of opportunity for all people. These commitments to fundamental human dignity and a better nation for all animate the American spirit and give us a sense of common purpose. We honor these commitments by recognizing that with the great freedoms afforded us comes an even greater responsibility to see that those freedoms are extended to all people in all places.

We believe that this sense of shared responsibility -- for our families, our communities, our nation and our world -- strengthens our country and secures our future.

We believe in defending dignity:

“All people are created equal” is not just a fact -- it is a call to action. Either we create justice for all or we have justice for none.

All people have the right to lead their personal lives in accordance with their own beliefs, free from imposition or monitoring by others.

All people have a right to the basic necessities required to lead dignified lives and to pursue happiness.

We believe in strengthening democracy:

It is the shared responsibility of a nation to ensure each citizen's freedom, security and equality. Through government, we honor our responsibility to promote the common good.

Government must be transparent, accessible and open to all citizens who wish to oversee its workings and share in its benefits.

America must work to enhance the democratic process by ensuring an educated citizenry, equal opportunity for influence, honest public debate, competitive elections and robust civic participation.

A healthy democracy requires tireless vigilance against corruption and abuses of power, and a government that is accountable to its people.

We believe in promoting progress:

We must promote innovation and entrepreneurship, cultivate the arts and sciences, and ensure a quality education for everyone. When we invest in individual potential, the benefits are shared by all.

America must continue to be a welcoming home to all people. We believe that diversity of faith, culture and perspective enriches our nation.

America must keep a watchful eye on the economy to ensure fairness, transparency and genuine opportunity for all.

Each generation has a duty to protect and improve those resources we hold in common -- our community spaces, our public institutions and our natural environment.

We believe in embracing leadership:

America's security requires an effective military and a commitment to enduring alliances, but we must remember that America's true power is found in its wisdom as well as its strength.

Our security and prosperity rely on the security and prosperity of people throughout the world. By helping others, we will help ourselves.

America must join with other nations to build global institutions that protect the vulnerable, promote democratic self-government, and improve the health and welfare of all people throughout the world.

America must never suspend its belief in democracy and human rights in the pursuit of its global objectives. Noble ends require nothing short of noble means.

As progressives, these are our guiding principles -- to defend dignity, to strengthen democracy, to promote progress and to embrace leadership. We believe that our country must always be looking toward a better and brighter future for all people, and in this pursuit we pledge to come forward and work with whomever we can. We will fight for these principles in every community, every forum and every office of government, because the struggles of this new century will not only be about preserving the freedoms we already enjoy -- they will be about expanding those freedoms for all people.



Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.