Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Coming soon! New online class, Colorado Caucus 201.

This class is free, but is only offered to newcomers to Colorado and those who are new to Colorado politics.

The prerequisite is completion of our Colorado Caucus 101, which you can see in the last 3 posts here below. When you've completed (start any time, take as much or as little time as you'd like) contact us for a free certificate of completion and to get on the invitation list for 201 when it is announced.

So read the last 3 posts here, once you've contacted your county and precinct leaders, contact John Wren at John@JohnWren.com or (303)861-1447. Also contact John if you have any questions or suggestions about what we are doing here.

Our wonderful Colorado caucus-assembly system is the best chance, possibly the last chance, the common person of ordinary means has of serving in elected public office. Thanks for being an active citizen, which the system requires for it to survive and flourish.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Active citizen, day 3.

"The whole state must be so well organized that every Whig can be brought to the polls. So divide the county into small districts and appoint in each a committee. Make a perfect list of the voters and ascertain with certainty for whom they will vote... Keep a constant watch on the doubtful voters and have them talked to by those in whom they have the most confidence... On Election Day see that every Whig is brought to the polls."   
-- Abraham Lincoln, Letter to a friend, 1840

Here's a precinct leaders workbook that says almost the same thing as Abe Lincoln did decades ago:;

Read the above workbook. Then go to the Colorado Secretary of State Website, http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/referenceGuides/Caucus.pdf

Then contact the political party of your choice, Republicans http://www.cologop.org/ or Democrats http://www.coloradodems.org/  and ask them how you can contact your precinct and county leaders to volunteer.

Once you've done this, you will have completed Colorado Caucus 101. Call us for a free certificate of completion and an invitation to an advanced class that will be offered soon. Also call if you have any questions or suggestions, contact John Wren at (303)861-1447 or John@JohnWren.com

Life's short, start now!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Caucuses aren't for ciphers. Sue O'Brien.

Sue O'Brien wrote in this editorial in 2002 when our wonderful Colorado Caucus, our neighborhood system for nominating candidates to the primary ballot was in danger of being eliminated by Amendment 29. Partly because of Sue's and The Denver Post's strong support of the Colorado Caucus, the misguided Amendment 29 was defeated.

Sue's wonderful column is maybe the best writing that's ever been done about why the caucus-assembly system is worth preserving. Here's what Sue wrote in the Denver Post:

Caucuses aren't for ciphers
October 6, 2002
by Sue O'Brien

cipher - a person or thing of no importance or value; nonentity

- New World College Dictionary

So, what will we choose to be: ciphers or individuals?

Ciphers are faceless. They have value only as something to count - a signature on a petition or a vote to tally by machine. It's easy for ciphers to hide out. Hey, they're just part of the mob.

Individuals, by contrast, stand out. They take responsibility. And they rarely hide.

We have a sovereign opportunity to become ciphers this November. One of the few mechanisms left in modern politics that rewards individual initiative - the precinct caucus - is on the brink of being eliminated in favor of a political nominating system that would let wannabe candidates get on the ballot only by collecting - and counting - petition signatures.

It's a lousy proposal put forth by an otherwise admirable organization: the Bighorn Center for Public Policy.

Now, I have nothing against getting on the ballot by petition. But why eliminate the choice - caucus or petition - that our present system provides?

It's not as though there's something inherently wrong with the caucus. And, even though these grassroots conclaves have seen declining attendance in recent years, there's a lot inherently good about them.

Look around modern society. We have a woeful lack of what Harvard scholar Robert Putnam calls "social capital" - the dynamism that comes from doing things together and making community decisions together. Yet the spate of election "reforms" we're seeing these days almost seems designed to stomp out the last vestiges of community collaboration.

"Voting and following politics are relatively undemanding forms of participation," writes Putnam in his influential "Bowling Alone." "In fact, they are not, strictly speaking, forms of social capital at all, because they can be done utterly alone."

We can be utterly alone, too, when we perform the two other actions modern politics seems to want to limit us to: writing checks and watching attack ads on TV. We're systematically replacing "social capital" with plain old monetary capital.

Colorado's traditional caucus-convention system, in contrast, rewards the shoe-leather and diligence. It provides a low-cost way for aspirants to work the neighborhoods, investing energy instead of dollars. Recent proof of this pudding came in the race for the GOP nomination in the 7th Congressional District, where Rick O'Donnell captured first line on the primary ballot with a low-budget campaign that focused on traditional caucus and door-to-door campaigning. O'Donnell eventually lost the primary to the better-funded Bob Beauprez, but his achievement in getting on the ballot was impressive.

But even more important than the caucus' benefits for candidates is its benefit for ordinary citizens. It's a vibrant neighborhood forum for hashing out ideas - the last remaining arena in which you can get on the first rung of the ladder toward political effectiveness by just showing up.

I've covered precinct or town caucuses in Iowa, Maine, Minnesota and Mississippi as well as Colorado. My favorite memory is of escorting a big-deal network analyst to his very first caucus in an American Legion hall in Iowa. This was a political expert well into his 50s, yet he'd never seen a caucus; primaries had always been his beat. He was blown away. For the first time in years of covering politics, he told me, he'd seen the true face of America.

He was right. Caucuses offer a peculiarly intimate view of a community and its people. They'll amaze you with the quality of caring and thought participants bring to the discussion. And sometimes, if you're very lucky, you'll see new, young leaders find their first toehold in the process.

Why is the Colorado caucus withering? First, because the legislature, in an ineffectual grab for national headlines, created a meaningless presidential primary that eliminated the headline race that once inspired much caucus activism.

Second, because we're all getting good at sitting on the sidelines. The Kettering Foundation's David Mathews once reminded readers that the word idiot comes from the Greeks. Privacy, they thought, was akin to stupidity. "Idiots" were incapable of finding their place in the social order.

Why bow to the trend of letting the next guy do it? Why sell out to letting money replace shoe-leather at every level of American politics?

Why not keep the caucus as an open door to involvement, while continuing to provide the petition alternative? Bighorn's goal may be to increase the number of people peripherally involved in the process - but the initiative will never replace the quality of participation the caucus can provide.

Good political talk … is where we recognize the connectedness of things - and our own connectedness. … Good political talk is also where we discover what is common amidst our differences. -David Mathews, "Civic Intelligence"

Sue O'Brien was editor of the Denver Post editorial page. See passed on not long after writing this. 
Tomorrow I'll be back with more about how I first became an Active Citizen and how you can be one too if you're not already.

In the mean time, your feed back is very helpful. Post your questions and comments here or contact me directly. (303)861-1447 or http://www.JohnWren.com 

Please share this with your friends on the Internet, it's as easy as just pushing one of the buttons below for Facebook, Twitter, Blogger.com, etc. 

John S. Wren

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Make a difference, become an active citizen.

Unhappy with our elected representatives?

In Colorado and some 16 other states there is a powerful political system that allows the common person to serve in elected public office.

Our caucus-assembly system levels the field, that's why so many of the rich and powerful hate it.

Whether you want to serve in public office yourself or leverage your time by helping other good people get elected, get involved in your neighborhood by offering to be of service to the major political party of your choice.

Yes, some get involved with the small alternative political parties, and sometimes it's easier there to feel like a big fish in their small ponds.

But look around the country today. How many from these alternative parties got elected? And how will those who did have any impact in the job they were elected to do without aligning themselves with one of the major parties?

Some complain the two major political parties are no different. That's what is supposed to happen, they are a mechanism for reaching a practical consensus.

Your good idea without a majority of the votes is just poetry.

So be a poet. Or get involved. Today.

Here's the first step. Google either "Democrats" or " Republicans" and your zip code. Call and ask how you can help. Not sure which party? Call them both. Check out their websites. Then pick. Or flip a coin. You are just choosing a tool to use to make your own voice heard.

For more about how, come back here tomorrow.. 


Monday, November 3, 2014

I voted today.

First election without
mom asking me what
I thought, what I was
doing, asking me if
I'd emailed by picks.
RIP mom.

Sunday, November 2, 2014