From The Vaults

Two twenty-five year olds seek election In Kettering — They Want Citizens To Have More Say In Local Government

I had the pleasant experience this morning to meet Nuponu Gorneleh who is seeking election to  the office of Mayor of Kettering, and Griffin Derr, who is seeking election to the Kettering City Council. I am impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of these two twenty-five year olds. I enjoyed their sense of humor.

Nuponu Gorneleh and Griffin Derr explaining their campaign to be elected to public office in Kettering

Nuponu Gorneleh and Griffin Derr explaining their campaign to be elected to public office in Kettering

Nuponu and Griffin have both lived in Kettering their whole lives and both graduated from Kettering High School. They say there is a tale of two Ketterings. In one there is the best of times and in the other, not so good. They want to help make a local government that serves the interests of both Ketterings and that cares for both Ketterings.


Nuponu and Griffin are in general agreement with each other.


Nuponu and Griffin think that too many Kettering citizens — including millennials like themselves — feel they have no voice in the decisions of the community. They feel left out. These young men say they are seeking public office in Kettering because they want to live in a Kettering where more citizens can have a direct say in local government, where more citizens have a direct say in how the local government spends money. One idea they are kicking around is the notion of a citizen forum. To gain more public support, I am urging them to write a specific plan — that as elected officials they would advance — that would work to give more citizens a direct say in local government.


It’s great to see young people who are making an effort to make a difference: Nuponu Gorneleh and Griffin Derr


I enjoyed talking with Nuponu and Griffin and I’m thinking of throwing the weight of a DaytonOS endorsement behind their candidacies. They would bring a new point of view in the discussion of the Kettering City Council. I think they would be a positive influence.



The Question Is Not What Heaven Will Be Like,  It’s What We Will Be Like In Heaven

“Heaven” by Randy Alcorn is a thought provoking book that challenges the reader to imagine what heaven means, what heaven is like. I’m just starting the book, but Alcorn’s emphasis, so far, is on describing heaven as a specific physical place. That makes me feel uneasy. The key question, I believe, is not what heaven will be like, but what we will be like in heaven.

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Heaven is all about joy. When we experience joy in this present life — heaven on earth — we experience something beyond our selves. Heaven is when we not only feel compassion, but when for a moment we are compassion, when we not only feel love, we are love. Heaven is the moment when the mind that was in Christ Jesus is also our mind, when the heart of Christ is also our heart. In heaven, we will be the beings we were created to be, our true selves, sons and daughters of God.

Grieving over the tragic death of his four year old son, Eric Clapton composed his beautiful song “Tears in Heaven.” He wrote: “Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure, And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven.”

And he asked a good question:

Would you know my name

If I saw you in heaven?

Would it be the same

If I saw you in heaven?

If we transcend our tiny egos to become as Christ — if we are love, if we are compassion — will we be recognizable in heaven? The question to ponder, I think, is not what heaven will be like, but what is our highest selves?  What we will be like in heaven?



Advice To A Democrat Seeking To Defeat Incumbent Congressman Mike Turner In OH-10

After the retirement of Tony Hall from congress, in the last seven congressional elections the Democratic candidate seeking election in OH-10 has fallen well short of the votes needed to win. A Democratic candidate can find the needed additional votes only from these two groups:

  1. The group of those who habitually vote for Mike Turner, and,
  2. The group of those who habitually fail to vote at all.

The outrage at Trump will generate some anti-Republican votes from both groups but, given the power of incumbency and the popularity of Turner, Trump outrage by itself is unlikely to produce enough votes for a Democrat to win OH-10 — not in a contest defined as a TV ad war where Turner, if needed, will have millions of dollars to spend.

I’m writing this to urge you to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity that has the potential to:

  • Get lots of free media attention — attention that will gain you support from both of the two groups you must motivate.
  • Empower you to demonstrate leadership skills and character needed to make our system of representative democracy work as it should
  • Associate you with a big idea that captures people’s imagination, an idea that citizens, especially young people, can rally around.

People are sick of politics as it is today. Define yourself as a Dem that seeks to transform the Democratic Party. And show a plan of action to do just that. Demonstrating such leadership would make you attractive to members of both groups listed above.

  1. For Turner voters, a key fact is that nationally 43% of all voters identify as “independents.” This means that it is likely that at least 25% of habitual Turner voters like to think of themselves as independent or nonpartisan. These nonpartisan-leaning voters are looking for someone to stand up to the system and to change the system.
  2. For Dems who don’t vote, a key fact is that many are thoroughly discouraged with the Democratic Party. They are looking for someone to improve the Democratic Party.

Your opportunity is to raise up a 21st century vision of the Democratic Party that is attractive to both groups. Your chance to demonstrate leadership is to apply that vision to the local party organization — the Montgomery County Democratic Party.

  • Rewrite the MCDP Constitution so that it corresponds to that vision.
  • Engage Democrats to discuss and debate that vision.
  • Elect a MCDP Central Committee that will implement that vision.

A contest to transform the local party would generate media attention because such a contest is timely. Every four years a new MCDP Central Committee is elected, new officers are chosen and a new MCDP Constitution approved. This quadrennial event happens this coming May at the 2018 Democratic Primary, and the subsequent Central Committee Reorganization Meeting. Each of the county’s 360 precincts can elect a member of the Central Committee. In 2014, only about 100 precincts fielded even one candidate. Your time is short, because petitions to get on the ballot for the Democratic Primary is February 7, 2018.

If you can lead Democrats to transform the local party organization — by infusing it with a new generation of active members, new ideas, a new Constitution — if you can develop a 21st century party organization that is member directed and community oriented, you will not only win the primary contest to be the Democratic Party OH-10 candidate, you will establish yourself as a leader that can inspire and accomplish actions that help heal our sick system. This is the leader that a lot of voters are looking for. Such a leader will appeal to some Turner voters and to some nonvoting Dems as well. I believe the potential is there to generate sufficient votes to win. It would be a great deal of effort — but then, voters are looking for someone who is willing to make the effort.

Turner has failed to show leadership that brings people together or that creates social harmony. This failure of leadership can be the predominate issue in the campaign — if you position yourself to make it so. Turner is the incumbent, but he is not a leader. Voters are worried about the sick state of our representative democracy. They want someone to demonstrate the visionary leadership and personal character needed to make a difference. The coming reorganization of the MCDP presents you with a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate in real terms that you are the leader that voters are looking for.


Should Turning Ohio BLUE Be Our Objective?

I’m going to a meeting this evening of a group called Blue Ohio. Its website says that the mission of the group is to: “Motivate a strong majority of Ohioans to vote for Democratic candidates in local, state, and national elections.” The group is working on a plan that includes mailing out flyers, hosting candidate forums and organizing events for candidates.

I respect the efforts of Blue Ohio members to make a positive impact in politics and I want to be supportive of their efforts. But, to achieve progressive goals, I’m coming to the conclusion that a nonpartisan approach has a greater chance for success than a partisan one. People are sick to death of partisanship — when polled, 43% of voters identify as nonpartisan. A candidate forum sponsored by a group dedicated to electing Democrats would be a turn-off for a lot of voters. Progressives need a venue to positively interact with Independents.

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Turning Ohio Blue sounds good, but if Democrats command 51% of the vote in Ohio, is Ohio Blue? If Democrats win 60%, is Ohio Blue? The fact is, turning Ohio Blue will never be possible. It will always have lots of red. We need to move away from a “winner-take-all” politics based on division and wedge issues and move towards a politics focused on unity and consensus.

Rather than focusing on achieving partisan victories, I’m concluding that progressives should focus on making our system of representative democracy work as it should. We need to have confidence that a government of the people would be a progressive government. Moving towards empowering a nonpartisan government of the people would be revolutionary. It would be fiercely resisted by the two party monopoly that is enriched and empowered in the current system. It would be resisted by every person and every organization that benefits from the partisan division of the political status quo.

Rather than pumping up a system built on partisanship and division, progressives should find a way to advance a system built on nonpartisanship and community. That sounds hopelessly idealistic, I know — words, words, words. But suppose a group took such idealistic goals seriously and worked together to move from words to deeds. I’m wondering what an organization called “Nonpartisan Ohio” might look like, how it would define its mission, its goals.



Progressives Should Work To Build A Grassroots Democratic Party Movement

To vitalize representative democracy, progressives need to be working to bring two movements to reality: 1) a grassroots Democratic Party movement 2) a grassroots democracy movement. A grassroots Democratic Party movement would engage and empower grassroots Democrats to be positively engaged in the Party. A  grassroots democracy movement would engage and empower everyone of every political point of view in the grassroots to be positively engaged in our democracy. Both movements are of crucial importance, but of the two the grassroots Democratic Party movement is the one that right now seems more in reach.

According to the current Montgomery County Democratic Party constitution, at most, the Central Committee can have 360 members. But, why only 360 members?  Why not have a constitution that enlarges the Central Committee to allow every one of Montgomery County’s 36,000 registered Democrats who so chooses to have participation and voting rights?

MCDP actions that were appropriate for the horse and buggy age — greatly restricting the number of voting members and requiring members to be physically present to participate in meetings — needlessly encumber a 21st century MCDP organization. In the horse and buggy age, an MCDP organized as a direct democracy would have been impossible, but in the 21st century, everyone has a smart phone. Making a deliberative democracy work for groups of hundreds or even thousands of individuals is very doable.

A grassroots Democratic Party movement would be built on a new vision of the Democratic party.  The start of such a movement is when Democrats begin to brainstorm answers to these questions: What would a 21st century “party of the people” look like? How would such a party be organized? What would be its actions? What would its constitution contain?

The opportunity to engage in the local Democratic party organization is open to all Democrats — guaranteed by state law that empowers every Democrat in the county the opportunity to stand for election to the party’s governing Central Committee. Democrats in each precinct elect one person living in the precinct to represent them on the Committee. This opportunity comes every four years and the next opportunity to be elected to the Central Committee is 2018 — petitions are due on February 7, 2018.