Monday, February 15, 2010

Week #1-- From John Wren. (Please post your thoughts as a comment below.)

First, take just a minute and introduce yourself to the "class" we'll be having here online each week. Please post an introduction of yourself below under "Introductions" (click here now, THEN GO TO TOP OF PAGE). This is optional, but I believe we'll all learn more if we know who is participating.

I'll be inviting guest "speakers" to make the opening posts with me each Monday (next Monday, John Skipper, author of "Iowa Caucuses"), both Democrats and Republicans who are willing to share about their party, auxiliary organization, or campaign. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Thomas Jefferson is often given credit for being the founder of the Democrats and Abe Lincoln given credit for starting the Republicans off. My friend David Fogel says he is sure that today they would join the opposite party! Lincoln and his concerns would be more in line with the Dems, Jefferson would be GOP, David thinks. (Do you agree? Why or why not? Post as a comment below if you have strong feelings about this or anything else that is posted here, especially if you disagree.)

Washington and Jefferson would have preferred that there be no political parties, but Jefferson finally saw that if an opposition party was not organized Alexander Hamilton's party would win every election.

We are better off with just two parties, in my opinion, the European system of multiple parties and back room deals just makes it harder for the common person like me to participate and really make a difference.

My neighbor Lyle Lindesmith taught me to love the Colorado Caucus.

In 1974, as a recently elected precinct committee person going door to door looking for a block captain on one of the few blocks in my precinct that didn't have one already, I met Lyle.

I was talking with everyone who was on my list of party members. I'd knock on the door, introduce myself, and ask for help. For years Lyle had led a 4-session class call "Action Class in Practical Politics." Each week he'd invite speakers from both major political parties, and students were give homework assignments of checking out their local neighborhood and county, reporting back to the class what had been discovered. Now I'm seeing if we can make it work for people here on line, thanks for being part of the test!

Lyle had been Executive Director of the Colorado Republican Pary, and with Jeane Toole they developed John Love from an obscure El Paso County Republican into Governor. Lyle went with Love to Washington when he was appointed Energy Czar.

Lyle asked me to help with what I think was the last session of the Action Class he ever led, it was at the old Petroleum Club and community activist Jeanne Faatz was in the class, just starting to think about running for elective office. She was soon elected to the state legislature, and now serves on the Denver City Council.

From time to time I stopped by and visited with Lyle at his business, Englewood Press on South Broadway, and he steeped me in his long-time political wisdom, advice that would have served me well if I'd paid more attention to it. Here's what I remember now:

*Make a decision whether you want to be a candidate for elected office, or if you'd rather be of service through party work. Lyle had learned from personal experience the two don't mix, that's been my experience, too.

*Party leaders, from precinct committee person to state chair do their job best when they stay neutral in candidate races. Let all the candidates bring new people into the party rather than compete for the party faithful.

*There are several ways to get involved: 1) Through the party structure; 2) Through auxiliary organizations; 3) Through candidate organizations. Lyle had Action Class members contact their local leaders in all three areas, look for opportunities to fill voids in their neighborhood.

You who are reading this now could become State Chair of one of the major political parties or Governor of Colorado if you'd take Lyle's sage advice to heart right now. What's the best next step for newcomers? I'll talk about that next week.

I didn't know Lyle very long, but he had a big effect on my thinking and he helped to launch many active citizens in both major parties. He passed away December 26, 1978 and I attended his funeral. There was never any recognition of his passing by the county or state party. Do you think it's too late now?

Assignment for between now and next Monday: 1) Read what is posted here; 2) Call county headquarters for the political party of your choice, get the names and phone numbers for your neighbors who are serving as precinct committee people, and ask them what is going on in your neighborhood. We'll ask everyone to share what they've learned here next week.

Suggested readings for this week:

For basic information about how the Colorado system works: Secretary of State website.

Week #1 Readings: "The Individual in Politics" and "The Political Party Organizaion." Download and print out for your own personal use.

Next Week: John Skipper, Author of "The Iowa Caucuses," and also surprise guests will be with us. Next week you'll be asked to share what you've learned about your own party through your contact with your county and precinct.

Now it's your turn. Post your thoughts below and also an introduction of yourself if you haven't already. You can post anytime through out the next week. Note: Post comments about the caucus system at the bottom of this post. Below see "Introductions" and "Events" please post there with a short intro of yourself if you want and events that are coming up. Then I hope to see you back here next Monday, February 22 for our guest "speakers" and a continuation of this online discussion.

If you've found this helpful, please email a link to this website along to your friends who might like to become more active citizens. They will thank you, and so will I if you'll let me know what you've done. John Wren (303)861-1447
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