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From The Vaults

Ted Strickland Should Make Focus Of Campaign His Fight To Repair And Strengthen Our Constitutional Democracy

I’m a Ted Strickland fan. We are both graduates of the Asbury College. What follows is part of a letter that I recently sent to his campaign. (Below the letter is a record of my history of urging candidates to make their campaigns all about democracy.)

Ted:

The theme of your campaign is that as senator you will “fight for working people.” The problem is, the plight of working people fails to generate the fear / anger needed to motivate a lot of voters. You should consider focusing on a bigger, more comprehensive fear / anger.

We can learn a lot from Trump supporters. They seem very angry and, mostly, they are angry that the system is rigged. This anger is becoming pervasive within the citizenry — not just Trumpets. You should tap into this anger and acknowledge that yes, the system is rigged and that you have a plan how as senator you could have a big impact on making the system work better.

Trump supporters like the fact that Trump is a bully. He gets big cheers when he makes his bullying boast: “And Mexico is going to pay for it.” His bully POV is revealed in his response to what he would do if the military refused an illegal order:  “Oh they will. Believe me. They won’t refuse.”

Your opportunity is to use the Trump phenomena to discuss how fragile our constitutional democracy is and how we are in danger of losing it. You should address the fear and anger within the citizenry — that Trump supporters point to — and show that the approach of a bully will only make things worse. We need strong leadership that empowers citizens to make our constitutional democracy work as it should. Consider a message something like this:

Our constitutional democracy is broken and unless it can soon be fixed, we are in great danger. Unless it is repaired, we are headed for disaster.

The advent of Donald Trump reminds us that history demonstrates that a dangerous power vacuum is created when democracies fail to solve problems. People eventually give up on democracy and turn to strongmen to whom they give dictatorial authority.

The future will swallow our system of constitutional democracy unless it is somehow made much stronger. Unless we can make a correction, Trump is delivering the message that we will soon pay a huge price for the gerrymandering, corruption, money-soaking of our system.

How can we make our constitutional democracy stronger? Ted Strickland has a plan.  Ted will offer strong legislation dealing with campaign finance, free TV time for candidates, gerrymandering, and civics education. He will organize his senate office to be a model of  transparency, a model of citizen communication / engagement. He will use his time and budget to help strengthen civics education and citizen engagement.

To back up this message, consider developing five new sections to your website. Each of these sections should show clearly how your views contrast with Portman’s. Put a big emphasis on the federal budget — the place where planning for the future will be won or lost. Portman’s embrace of the Ryan Budget provides a big opportunity — if we can get the public to start talking about the budget.

To generate interest, consider adding a discussion forum to each section — limited to participants who use their real names and who are verified to be registered Ohio voters.

  • “Understanding the Federal Budget and the Ryan Budget Proposal”
  • “What Ohioans Agree About”
  •  “The Challenges of the Future.”
  • “Legislation To Strengthen Our Constitutional Democracy”
  • “My Promise To Constituents”

I believe in you. I’m proud of you and I’m fervently hoping for your election to the U. S. Senate. I hope these suggestions are helpful.

Sincerely,  Mike Bock  —  graduate of Asbury College in 1969

My history of urging a message concerning democracy

May 7th, 2009: Advice For Gary Leitzell And David Esrati: Make The Campaign All About Democracy, System Structure

The campaign for City Council or Mayor should not focus on which candidate is in favor of a Dayton Sportsplex or how Dayton garbage collection can be improved. We need to get the citizenry to look at the big picture. My advice is to not focus on the smaller parts and, instead, take the perspective of the big picture. In the big picture, it is obvious that our system is failing. The answer to our problems is a system answer. I’ve frequently quoted W. Edwards Deming’s big insight that 85% of quality problems in a system stem from how the system is organized — not from the individuals in the system, nor individual components in the system. (See my article, “How Can The System Known As The United States Be Made To Work To Provide “Liberty and Justice For All?“)

 

May 5th, 2010: To Defeat Congressman Turner, Dr. MacNealy Must Emphasize His Commitment To Democracy

We must remember that it is the message that is of central importance, not money. …Here is the diagnosis I would encourage Dr. Mark to make:  Our democracy is in trouble. The failure of our economy, the failure to create jobs is a system failure.  Our system of democracy is failing and we need representatives dedicated to making democracy work.

 

October 8th, 2014: Advice To Rob Klepinger: Make Your Passion For Democracy The Message Of Your Campaign

Importantly, to gain credibility you must show a plan for leadership that, if elected, you will implement. Such a plan would show, for example, how the work of congress would be made transparent and understandable. It would show a strategy to encourage public discussion and public education about matters of civic importance. Such a plan of your intentions would make a vivid contrast to the record of Turner’s behavior. In summary, here is my unsolicited advice: In these last few weeks, make your message the fact that you are passionate about democracy.

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How Can The Best Future For Kettering Schools Be Defined and Accomplished?

I’m thinking there is a public in Kettering that would support and participate in an in-depth analysis concerning Kettering’s system of public education — its present state, its possible futures. My plan is to prepare an outline for a ten week study beginning in January 2017, and invite the public to participate. The general topic of the study would be: “How Can The Best Future For Kettering Schools Be Defined and Accomplished?”

These are the six aspects of this question that I’m envisioning:

  1. Make a detailed analysis of the current system of public education in Kettering in terms of program and budget. Identify the aim of the system and explain how resources are used to accomplish that aim.
  2. Make predictions of the future state of the system, based on established trends in the system.
  3. Make a detailed analysis how technology can be expected to change in the next ten and twenty years; make an analysis of how this change in technology will impact economic opportunities, and how this technology will impact systems of education.
  4. Determine what the aim of the system should be to best meet the challenges of the future.
  5. Propose a system structure that will most effectively use resources to accomplish the aim of the system.
  6. Outline a ten year process for changing the current system into the transformed system.

These study sessions would be posted on the internet and there would be structured an online discussion / forum open to participants who are part of the study.

Kettering is prosperous and stable, with many civic minded citizens. It is known for its active volunteer program and for its consistent and generous support of its local schools. For many reasons it would be an ideal community to show leadership in creating a new model of public education.

The task I am outlining for myself is to show the details of this study so that it will attract interest. These details would show who the experts / leaders in this study would be, how research on these questions would be conducted — and the financing that would be required. The goal would be to seek financial support via a crowdsourcing website like Kick-starter or Indiegogo.

This project will revisit the effort I made in 2009, when I unsuccessfully ought election to the Kettering School Board. Printed in the League of Women Voters’ Guide I wrote, “The biggest challenge for the Kettering School Board is to inspire and empower teachers and citizens to work together to define system excellence and to create a plan for long-term transformation that will result in a great future for public education in Kettering.”

My experience as a teacher in public schools (not in Kettering) left me with a compelling desire to help transform the current system of public education to something much better. Here at age 68, I’m impressed more and more that if I’m going to make the effort, it is now or never.

  • Education In 2030 is a 46 page PDF, a condensed version of previous posts, showing my POV concerning the future of public education
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Ten Week Study Planned, Open To Public, To Create Proposal / Plan Showing The Future Of The Kettering School System

I recently made a suggestion to my niece that she tackle this question as a project in her graduate school class:  “What is the best future for public education and how can this future be accomplished?” I also sent my niece a link to my little on-line book — Public Education In 2030 — that organizes selected articles I wrote over the last ten years that together show some of my thoughts about how this important question should be answered.

When I unsuccessfully sought election to the Kettering Board of Education, seven years ago, for the League of Women Voters Voter Guide, I wrote, “The biggest challenge for the Kettering School Board is to inspire and empower teachers and citizens to work together to define system excellence and to create a plan for long-term transformation that will result in a great future for public education in Kettering.”

After failing to be elected to the school board, I resolved I would not try again for election until I could present Kettering voters with a specific plan that would address the challenge I indicated in my response to the LWV. I determined to write a plan called “Kettering Public Education In The Year 2022: How Do We Get To A Great Future?”  (I later changed the date to 2030.) This was to be a solitary effort. As it turns out, I’ve done little to work on this project and my note to my niece underlined to me of how lazy I’ve been. I feel convicted that I need to honor my promise to myself and follow through with what my heart and head tells me to do about this matter.

Kettering is prosperous and stable, with many civic minded citizens. It is known for its active volunteer program and for its consistent and generous support of its local schools. For many reasons it would be an ideal community to show leadership in creating a new model of public education. These are the six steps I’m proposing:

  1. Make a detailed analysis of the current system of public education in Kettering in terms of program and budget. Identify the aim of the system and explain how resources are used to accomplish that aim.
  2. Make predictions of the future state of the system, based on established trends in the system.
  3. Make a detailed analysis how technology can be expected to change in the next ten and twenty years; make an analysis of how this change in technology will impact economic opportunities, and how this technology will impact systems of education.
  4. Determine what the aim of the system should be to best meet the challenges of the future.
  5. Propose a system structure that will most effectively use resources to accomplish the aim of the system.
  6. Outline a ten year process for changing the current system into the transformed system.

To complete these six steps with convincing competence is a huge task. Rather than making this a solitary effort, my thinking now is that the best way to proceed is to invite the public to help. My goal is to outline a ten week study — meeting once each week, starting in January — that would involve presentations by experts who have experience and research to share in an effort to complete these six steps. These study sessions would be posted on the internet and there would be structured an online discussion / forum open to participants who are part of the study.

To finance the participation of experts and researchers needed to make this study a success will require a budget. I’m thinking that if I could prepare a proposal in sufficient detail, showing who the teachers in this study would be, how research on these questions would be conducted — and the financing that would be required — the project could get the needed financial support via a crowdsourcing web-site like Kick-starter or Indiegogo. This crowdsourcing effort would be the beginning of bringing together a core group of citizens who support investigating the question: “What is the best future for public education and how can this future be accomplished?”

My experience as a teacher left me with a compelling desire to help transform the current system of public education to something much better. Here at age 68, I’m impressed more and more that if I’m going to make the effort, it is now or never. My goal: create a ten week study and design a crowdsourcing pitch to fund the study. Making these thoughts public today is my way of pushing myself .

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The Two Obstacles That Keep Democrats From Being Elected To Ohio’s Statehouse

Joe Colvin recently responded to a post now over two years old, asking why the local Democratic party fails election after election to elect Democrats to the statehouse. 

Joe, I see two big obstacles that block Democrats from being elected to the statehouse. I’ll focus on the 41st Ohio House District in Kettering where I live. The first obstacle is lack of a Democratic party infrastructure. The second big obstacle is lack of a democracy infrastructure.

The Democratic party in the 41 OHD, has failed to build an infrastructure. Most precincts in the 41 OHD do not have a Democratic precinct leader and the Democratic ward leaders and precinct leaders who are in place in the 41 OHD are generally inactive. Almost all the responsibility of funding, running and organizing a campaign is placed on the candidate. This is a huge and exhausting challenge that discourages potential candidates from making an effort. The excellent Democratic candidates that have emerged — for example, Steve Byington in 2002, and Caroline Gentry in 2012 — always get a shellacking (Caroline got the most votes of any D in 41 OHD in recent memory with 40.45% of the vote.) As a party, we have not established the infrastructure that could possible encourage continued effort by these or other qualified candidates. I did a statistical study of the 41st Ohio House District. There are over 7000 Democrats who regularly vote in the Democratic primary in the 41 OHD. (See herefor more data about 41 OHD) The question is, what needs to happen to bring these Democrats together into a meaningful community that can find and support good candidates?

The second big obstacle to sending Democrats to the statehouse — lack of a democracy infrastructure — became obvious to me when in 2009, I decided to seek election to the Kettering Board of Education. For this nonpartisan position, again, I discovered the burden of communicating with voters is fully on the candidate. The League of Women Voters organized one poorly attended meeting that was truly worthless. There was no Kettering Town Hall, no established or traditional venue where interested citizens could easily dialogue with school board candidates — no on-line forum, etc. It is all up to the candidate to fund and organize any communication with the voting public.

In 2012, I organized a community debate between the candidates for the 41st OHD between Democrat Caroline Gentry and Republican Jim Butler. It was scheduled to happen at Kettering High School immediately after school dismissal. There was almost zero interest by high school teachers, including social study teachers, to attend or to encourage their students to attend. There was only a small handful of community members. There seems no tradition or established expectation of democracy in Kettering, no democracy infrastructure, that brings citizens together in a nonpartisan setting to discuss issues and candidates. This lack of a democracy infrastructure, this lack of public expectation or demand for a democracy infrastructure that I experienced in Kettering is repeated throughout the county. This is a huge obstacle.

You write, “What has to get done? We need new life blood!” I agree. But there is no easy answer. To address these two obstacles will require a lot of sustained effort by a core group of concerned citizens. It will require Democrats to work not only to build their party but to work in nonpartisan efforts to build local democracy and local community.

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Some Day When I’m Aw-f’ly Low

 

Someday, when I’m aw-f’ly low,

When the world is cold,

I will feel a glow just thinking of you

The Way You Look Tonight  by Jerome Kern

carolesink2

Carole Wilma Bock Dunaway

February 18, 1938 — May 19, 2014

carole and spencer

Carole with her first grandchild — Spencer — now twenty-five. He will be married this Saturday in Columbus to a beautiful girl who Carole was delighted with. It will be a wonderful ceremony and reception. I’m understanding more why people cry at weddings.

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