Monday, June 19, 2006

Yearly Kos: The Student Caucus

The student caucus was my first Yearly Kos event. When I walked in, about 20 young folk were sitting in a circle of chairs in a small conference room. The turnout was a little depressing. I wanted to see more young faces full of fire, eagerly seeking to drive out the Bush regime. Oh well.

I was a few minutes late, so everyone had completed introductions when I arrived. The caucus consisted of three or four experienced activists monopolizing the conversation. That's not to say that others couldn't speak, but many of us kept our mouths shut. The caucus was a worthwhile event for someone of my age, but I walked away with little useful information. My notes from the caucus are as follows:
  1. There is a need for a coordinated plan between the College Democrats and the DNC. The Republicans seem to be much better at recruiting, mentoring, and rewarding young talent than the Democrats. We need to find a way to take activists from heavily Democratic areas and ship them off to swing districts for campaign activities. For example, pack a bus full of Berkeley College Dems and send them down to Orange County.
  2. Use Rovian Tactics. Someone asked how to defeat the charismatic young mayor of her college town, who is a rising Republican star. Apparently, he gets along quite well with the locals, youth and otherwise. He even occasionally hangs out at local taverns greeting his constituents. Someone responded that he should be taken down by scandal, that someone should set him up at the bar and snap an incriminating picture. This really pissed me off. I loathe Karl Rove's dirty tactics. We need to defeat Republicans with better policy and stronger leaders, not by stooping to Rovian tactics. Sorry, but I'd rather not sacrifice integrity for personal gain.
  3. College Dems should have a progressive lobbyist speak to their groups about how to lobby a State Senator. State and local officials are much easier to influence than national ones. Ten people in t-shirts can have a real impact on a state and local officials.
  4. Use the anger generated by hate-mongers to motivate and recruit progressives. For example, the next time an anti-choice group demonstrates at your campus, brandishing pictures of aborted feti and equating abortion with the holocaust, use it to your advantage. Channel that energy into good progressive recruitment.
  5. Campus progressives should be on MySpace and Facebook. Seriously, people my age check social networking sites maniacally. Facebook is a great way to keep campus progressives informed.
  6. Stage a well publicized event. When a bunch of people show up to one well-run event, far more buzz is generated than from a weekly meeting of fifteen people. This requires a few dedicated activists, but can dramatically improve the membership of your organization.
The Student Caucus was run by Alex Barrio, a young, energetic activist with delightfully crazy hair. I spoke with him about a couple issues after the caucus and ran into a few times during the conference. On Saturday he was writing a diary about the Student Caucus while being interviewed by Matt Labash, a reporter from The Weekly Standard. He asked me to proofread his diary. While doing so, I chatted with the reporter, who asked me a few questions. He got a kick out of my blogger handle and my blog's name. He was really excited when I mentioned "drunk diarying" my Mark Warner Party Kos diary the night before. Truth be told, I enjoyed chatting with him. His article has just been published. He actually mentioned Shlomo Boudreaux, the Cajun Jew, in the article, which is my first major plug!


At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudo for the Weekly Standard nod but I refer you to the earlier comment about cooptation. Looks pretty clear.

At 7:54 PM, Blogger Shlomo Boudreaux said...

Cooptation of the netroots is something that I fear too. I will have much more to say on that issue in later posts. Thanks for reading.

At 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot!
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