The Best Way To Transform Our Democracy Is By Transforming Our Political Parties

I wrote a response to David Esrati’s article,  “Perot Was Right.” My point is that for a movement to have any power, it must be seen as winnable.  The idea of starting a third party sounds, to me, well meaning, but a loser — tilting at windmills — idea.  Who wants to get on a train to nowhere?  Starting a third party sounds like something that would be awfully hard to accomplish.  I’m thinking there is a big group of citizens who could be inspired to dedicate some time and energy to activism — but they are looking for something doable.

My point is that the problem is not that there are only two parties, the problem is that the parties are corrupt and anti-democratic in their operation.  Transforming the political parties we already have, I feel, is key to vitalizing our democracy:  And, unlike the goal of starting a third part, the goal of transforming the current parties, I feel, could inspire an authentic grassroots movement.  I wrote at Esrati’s:

There are only 360 precincts in Montgomery County and each precinct may choose one delegate.  We simply need to raise up a vision of how an authentic democratic community — a transformed Montgomery County Democratic Party — would operate, sell that vision to the Democrats in Montgomery County, and get a delegate to run in each precinct to support a plan for transformation.  We have four years to get all of this accomplished.  Doable.

I’m looking for several long term projects to develop on this web-site, and Step One, for this project, asks that someone accomplish a giant step:  Develope a vision of a transformed Montgomery County Democratic Party, one that would operate as an authentic democratic community. Such a giant step seems a worthy goal and maybe it can be my second book — after this one is completed:  Kettering Public Education In The Year 2022: How Do We Get To A Great Future?

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7 Responses to The Best Way To Transform Our Democracy Is By Transforming Our Political Parties

  1. Eric says:

    Any Democratic candidate have a clue regarding education reform? Do you have any suggestions?

  2. Mike Bock says:

    Eric, I need to do some research.

  3. Eric says:


    You called Chanin out after last year’s NEA RA. That makes Democratic candidates look silly when discredit their endorsers without briefing the candidate on the need to practice informed citizenship.

    Just a thought…

    BTW, Ohio Dems support education reforms that snub Kettering
    Foundation and “Reclaiming…”. No need to learn from Kettering’s own local think tank when union money buys all you want in the state capitol.

  4. David Esrati says:

    You’ve been on the same “transform the Montgomery County Democratic Party” rant for years- and nothing has changed. There are less seats- and you and I still get voted down by acclimation. People like to hold on to power- even if it’s imaginary.
    There are more undeclared and independent voters out there than you are aware of- they are all sick of the same old BS.
    It’s time for something new- it doesn’t even have to be a party per se- but- an organized movement would work.

  5. Mike Bock says:

    Eric — I’d like to know more about how Ohio Dems snubbed the Kettering Foundation. But, regardless, in my view the only route to authentic reform of public education is via the creation of a new grassroots reality. In this post, I am urging that those who seek improvements in our society must focus their energies on the doable. In Kettering, I believe it is possible to elect a board of education that is committed to transforming public education. This can only happen through yeoman grassroot efforts, but it is doable.

    David — I didn’t get involved with the Montgomery County Democratic Party until 2006. And only this last year have I attempted to bring new people into the party. I successfully recruited five people who are now members of the Central Committee and four of my recruits showed up at the Reorganization Meeting. And some of my recruits, I know, were part of the small chorus who seconded my motion. My last motion I attempted — at a previous Central Committee Meeting — died for lack of a second. So, I feel there is progress. We need to press forward. If the progressive movement could get behind the idea, in 2014 at the next Reorganization Meeting, it is very doable that we could have a transformation consensus.

    I agree that “It’s time for something new,” and I agree that the number of voters who are “sick of the same old BS” is growing. But, people are attracted to the doable. They want to put their energies into something that has a chance for success.

    The project to transform our local political parties, I feel, is one that could help channel the frustrations of a lot of potential activists to practical effort. We need to think through what a transformed local political party would look like, how it would operate, and why it would be an improvement of sufficient magnitude that a transformation effort is worthy of support and effort. Maybe I should write a book: “The Montgomery County Democratic Party In 2016”

    You write, People like to hold on to power. Yes, of course. When we go to these people and ask that they give up some of this power — ie, agree to stop making primary endorsements — surprise, we get voted down. But Ohio Law says that political parties are so important, they must be regulated. Each party must be subject to a democratic process open to all of its members. So, I’m suggesting that the only kind of grassroots movement that will have any sustainability is one rooted in a passion for democracy. A passion for democracy is what could unite a wide band of people. “Let’s get our democracy to work” — think of the advertising possibilities — and one place to inflame that passion is by focusing on something that is actually doable. Transforming our local political parties is a goal that is doable — “Here is a plan for how we can get this done” — and it is bipartisan. If we work toward this objective for the next four years, I think we would have a good chance for success. I don’t think we’ve really tried very hard, so far.

  6. Stan Hirtle says:

    We just had an internal Democratic party event, a 3 way race for a Congressional seat against a well connected, well known and well funded incumbent, which most agreed was essentially a pro forma task given the way the district is drawn. Wih only 4 polling places and exceptionally low turnout, most people seemingly knew better than invest emotional energy on things not worth the investment, like political parties. For that matter a democratic system that appears controlled by money and insider tactics like drawing districts to guarantee results in most places may not be worth the emotional investment. Occassionally the combination of an attractive challenger and a dismal incumbent may motivate idealism and hope. We may wonder in hindsight whether Obama was served by essentially abandoning the movement he created and rode to the presidency, which he traded for the levers of government, and perhaps for his failure to balance the elite with the street. Between the Big Sort, the Bowling Alone phenomenon and the internet social media which seem mostly disconnected from the practicalities of influencing power, we may understand while more people consider themselves political independents and the idea of consorting with some central committee is probably the last thing anyone wants to do. Also that the hope of getting appointed to a school board, getting a job in a government office or getting to run against 3 or 4 other similar people for 5 minutes of fame, or maybe getting your garbage collected, is no longer the draw it once was.

  7. Ice Bandit says:

    You’re absolutely correct (for a change) David E. Some folks love to hold on to power, even if it means indulging in the legal form of bribery known as campaign contributions to do so. But the cure is a simple one, just diminish the amount of power and money elected officials have. In case anyone has researching blacksmithing techniques in Indonesia, there is a strong current of anti-government emotion brewing in these hereabouts (you’re welcome) and the key to electoral success, at least in the short term, may be who exploits these prejudices. The key for Democrats is to get off their tax-and-spend, legislate and politicize everything high-horse….

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