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Sunday, December 12, 2004

State Party Blogs

Posted by Bob Brigham

At the Orlando winter meeting of the Association of Democratic State Chairs, Michigan Mark Brewer appeared to relish kicking out bloggers. If you are one of the few who hasn't heard of the scandal, Jerome Armstrong, Matt Stoller and Joe Trippi were kicked out of an otherwise public meeting because they have blogs. MyDD broke the story which has since been blogged by our own Tim Tagaris, Kos, Blogging of the President, Atrios, Mathew Gross, Steve Gilliard, Suburban Guerrilla, Mahablog, and Change for America.

In my humble opinion, the ADSC should have kicked out anyone who doesn't have a blog. I can't think of a single reason why a state party chair would not have a blog. In fact, in this "Year of the Blog" with blogs proving to be unmatched resources for raising money, engaging activists, and creating change, I believe it to be a sign of incompetence for a state Party to not have a blog.

I was shocked to discover that three-fourths of state Democratic parties do not have blogs. AL, AK, AZ, AR, CT, DE, FL, HI, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, ME, MA, MI, MS, MT, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OK, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, TX, VT, WA, WV, WI all make the list of shame for not having a blog. Additionally, ID, NM, UT, and WY have blogs that they have decided not to use and MD's blog has only 2 posts.

While almost all of these states have a mechanism for accepting online donations, none of them decided to catapult their online campaigns by having a blog. Likewise, almost all of these websites ask people to volunteer without offering daily reasons why their time is need.

As NE and NV have demonstrated, a state party can spend 20 minutes to set up a free blog on blogger, put a link on their website, and be a modern Party in a half an hour.

If state parties want to do more, they could follow the lead of California's Bob Mulholland who uses his blog to bash Republicans, fire up activists, and raise money -- in real-time, almost every day.

The fact that three-fourths of State Parties do not have the most basic of tools for online campaigning highlights the absurdity of Terry McAliffe's recent efforts to re-invent himself as a grassroots Chair.

As somebody who has created dozens of blogs, I will attest that it is easy to set up a blog and begin realizing major gains. It can even be free and not doing so is inexcusable. So next time, the ADSC should kick out the dead weight and let the visionaries stay.

This has been updated to remove MN and VT which have blogs. Minnesota's blog is now linked from the DFL website, thank you to our very responsive friends in MN.

Posted at 05:29 PM in Activism | Technorati


If you know of a state that made my "list of shame" but does have a blog, post a note in the comments and I will update the list. I'm going to come back to this in a month or see to examine which states have made progress.

Posted by: Bob Brigham at December 12, 2004 05:33 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

It is also important to note that the Association of State Democratic Chairs does not even have a webpage.

If they do, I couldn't find it -- and I spent some time looking. But, if you go to asdc.org -- you can learn all you want to about the Albequerque Square Dancing Club.

I find that interesting from an organization that apparently spent a good part of week "swooning" over the small donor and on-line contributors.


Posted by: Tim T. at December 12, 2004 05:53 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Funny you mention this. I asked the NY Dems about this a LONG time ago - in fact, just over a year:

At 12:52 AM 11/21/03 -0500, [DavidNYC] wrote: > > Does the New York State Democratic Party have a blog? If > not, are there plans to create one in the near future? Best, > >[DavidNYC]

Their response:

In a message dated 11/25/2003 12:33:53 PM Eastern Standard Time, nydems@nydems.org writes: > > We have no plans for a blog at this time. > > The NYSDC

Looks like nothing has changed.

Posted by: DavidNYC at December 12, 2004 06:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Also, I remember being inspired to ask the NY Dems because the TX Dems had created a blog. Check this post from Charles Kuffner here, and notice that the date of my e-mail to the NY Dems was the same as Charles' post.

However, the "Yellow Dog Blog" doesn't appear to be operating at this time - at least, I kept getting an error when I tried to surf in that direction.

Posted by: DavidNYC at December 12, 2004 06:07 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The Democratic Party of Virginia does have a blog. It's called Documenting Democracy. ��It was started as a way to document the Virginia delegation to the convention in Boston and has continued since then. ��It's supported enthusiastically by both the state party chair and the director of communications for the state party.

BTW, I think it's simplistic and insulting to suggest that just throwing ��up a free blog on Blogger and putting a link on the party Web site is going to magically transform a party into a "modern party in half an hour". A blog is just one of many tools in modern Internet campaigning and community building, and I would suggest that a state party could do a decent job of internet organizing without one. Sure, the complete lack of one is one sign that the party may be weak in this area, but it's not a be-all, end-all.

Effective Internet organizing and Democratic community building is not just about throwing up a blog, and it is important for all of us to remember that as we advocate for reform at the state, local, and national levels.

Posted by: Maura in VA at December 12, 2004 06:21 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Thanks Maura, the post has been updated. I agree with everything you wrote.

Posted by: Bob Brigham at December 12, 2004 06:25 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Thanks, Bob! The Documenting Democracy blog is featured prominently on the VA web site, but it's not prominent in a logical location, if that makes sense. It gets a lot of sreen real estate, but it's in the bottom of the middle column, a strange place for a blog link. :-)

Posted by: Maura in VA at December 12, 2004 07:06 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Maura - I agree that simply creating a blog is no magic silver bullet which will transform a state party overnight. However, blogs are such useful communications tools and have proved so valuable in this past election cycle that you have to wonder why any state party *wouldn't* want one.

Sure, I'm a biased "netroots"-type person, but seeing how simple blogs are to create and use, why not play to that not-unhealthy bias? What I mean is that if I visit a state party website and see that they have a blog, I'm probably automatically willing to give them a little more cred (perhaps whether they deserve it or not) on that basis.

At the very least, you'll be able to avoid the Wrath of Brigham. :)

Posted by: DavidNYC at December 12, 2004 11:29 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I agree with Maura and DavidNYC. Democrats shouldn't blog for the sake of blogging, Democrats should blog because we need to take advantage of every opportunity to increase support.

I referenced NE and NV's blogger blogs because I wanted to preempt any excuse that people might give for not starting a blog. It can be free and it is easy. Of course, that doesn't mean that Party organizations shouldn't have great blogs.

Democrats had this same debate over using radio, then over using TV, then over using the telephone, then over using email. Everytime it happens, technology always wins. The losers are the late adapters who miss the opportunity to exploit the advantage by adapting before their opponent. There is no doubt that every political organization will eventually campaign in real-time, so why not do it now, do it right now, and win?

Posted by: Bob Brigham at December 12, 2004 11:55 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The MD DP blog is a joke. The people running the MDP now don't have any clue about the netroots and trust me I've tried to make them aware. Hopefully this will change after the election of Terry Lierman as state chair tomorrow.

Posted by: Lavoisier1794 at December 13, 2004 01:50 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I have to agree with Maura's comments earlier. If an organization has the resources to create and maintain a website, there's no excuse for not having a blog. Sure, they can start on blogger as I have and move to something more professional as experience improves. Even if the only posts were the press releases that a state party sends out, that would be sufficient. This is how they can get the younger vote involved as well as raise some serious cash.

Maybe one of you experienced bloggers should write a basic whitepaper and send it to the state parties. With your experience, the thing should basically write itself.

Posted by: Dan Hogan at December 13, 2004 02:17 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The key function of a website should be to allow people to organize activities to further the cause. I understand there is a hesitancy to let just anyone represent the party -- I was in Iowa and Dean had many people there who had a hard time selling their candidate. But my experience with Kerry was the opposite -- we were almost discouraged from doing things early on.

btw, any idea what role "Working America" is playing and will be playing? Its a community-based group supported by the AFL-CIO for working Americans who are not in unions ...

Posted by: Marc at December 13, 2004 02:41 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Arizona had a blog for the entire general election called "Turn AZ Blue" ... located at turnAZblue.com Using it and other online tools they created a 25k person volunteer base.

They don't have a blog now because they are trying to majorly renovate their technology.

Posted by: MisterTinAZ at December 13, 2004 03:08 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

"This has been updated to remove MN and VT which have blogs

The state party in Vermont has a blog? Can you post a link to it? I'm the Technology Coodinator for the Vermont Democratic Party, and I've never heard of us having a blog.

Posted by: VTDem at December 13, 2004 03:13 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Whoops, the state party in VIRGINIA has a blog, we're still waiting on Vermont.

Posted by: Bob Brigham at December 13, 2004 03:49 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Thanks MisterTinAZ. Once Arizona settles in with their new website and blog I'll follow up. I glad they are providing an good example for the other states. Thanks for keep us informed.

Posted by: Bob Brigham at December 13, 2004 05:48 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Minnesota now links from the main page.

Posted by: Don Juan at December 13, 2004 06:59 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Thank you Minnesota, I'm glad to see we're making progress.

Posted by: Bob Brigham at December 13, 2004 07:09 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

WHAT's Going on?
First of all, I agree that a blog is not a requirement, but did they give a REASON why they didn't like them? You said that "bloggers" were unwelcome at the Association of Democratic Chairs? WHY would this be? Have the blogs done any harm? I'm a little baffled. Can anyone enlighten me?
Personally, the blogs have been indeispensable to me. It's really all we had to get and exchange information, especially since we couldn't get accurate news from the media. I never donated to anyone who didn't say exactly what it was for.
Why would people not want a blog?

Posted by: Pamela at December 13, 2004 08:59 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment


I contacted the office of the Chairman of the ADSC. You can read about the conversation in one of the threads above.

It is not done yet though, there is still plenty of work ahead.


Posted by: Tim T. at December 13, 2004 09:02 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Oregon, too, is doing some major revamping - the Multnomah County Democrats, in coordination with Washington and Clackamas County Democrats, are developing web-tech that will, hopefully, go statewide once we are running a successful testbed. The team working on this project has been putting together these ideas, over at least the past year, from a number of angles - gathering requirements, writing prototypes, brainstorming solutions - and I expect that this process will continue at its increased post-election pace. While our pipe-dream technologies probably won't be in v1, I expect the website to improve significantly over the next six months. In the meanwhile, http://www.multdems.org continues to serve us well.

You might recall also that our State Central Committee recently elected Jenny Greenleaf to the DNC on a platform of directing national resources toward facilitating grassroots activism and strengthening the state parties - especially through the use of appropriate technologies. As a matter of fact, she blogged about the recent ASDC meeting from which other bloggers were booted (not to mention the National Convention, for which her public posts have disappeared).

Posted by: Gavin White at December 13, 2004 09:05 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Tim and/or anyone else,
("Plenty of work" is an understatement.)
Well, I went and read as much as I could stand of all the arguing and haggling. I���ll try not to ask too many more dumb questions, but if you could stand to reply to me once more.
I guess I had this wrong, but I thought the concern was for our COUNTRY and our CONSTITUTION. Has there been any mention of this at all?
It sounds to me like this is ALL about PERSONAL power. Do you remember the leaders of our country were supposed to be representing THE PEOPLE ��� NOT THEMSELVES? That was the basis of the American Government. This was supposed to be a HARD JOB. I thought only the Republicans wanted a dictatorship.

It sounds to me like EVERYONE has completely lost sight of what we were doing. I thought we were concerned with re-establishing our civil rights, re-establishing a voting system which has integrity (and investigating possible fraud), ascertaining the government���s possible involvement with Haliburton/911/etc (and investigating possible criminal activity), stopping this illegal war in Iraq, fixing our country���s economy, environment, and the welfare of its citizens, stopping the deficit spending and whatever else needs to be done FOR THE PEOPLE TO LIVE IN A FREE AND PROSPEROUS COUNTRY that the rest of the world doesn���t hate. Well, stupid me, that���s what I had in mind anyway. I hate to be REAL STUPID ��� but what happened to LOVE?

None of these Candidate���s has this in mind, do they? The American people aren���t concerned about it either, are they? People just love to talk and argue, they���re not really concerned with WORKING on anything, are they?

I guess the only difference between a Democrat and a Republican is the ���religious��� garbage. Well, luckily I am not either. I���m a ���Progressive��� with no party, I guess.

The Democrats don���t stand a chance at this rate. Actually, if this is just about PERSONAL gain, I personally have more to gain with the Republicans. The things they do benefit ME more PERSONALLY, except for most of the ���religious crap��� (If I was a man it would suit me just fine). I was only standing against them on ���character���. I DIDN���T VOTE FOR BUSH. Lying, cheating, forcing, hating, greed etc are wrong.

I thought we were trying to make this a country of ���justice��� and opportunity for those who wanted to take advantage of it.

Does anybody care about this anymore? If not, there���s certainly no reason for me to.

As far as the Blogs, I still don���t get it; like somebody mentioned, ANYBODY could go to ANY meeting ANYWHERE and report it on ANY blog word for word, so what���s the deal? By the way, people, I just wanted to mention that at least half (if not more) voting (and non-voting) Americans don���t even use the Internet, except for their kids etc.

The Democrats don���t stand a chance without UNITY. I notice there are thousands of ���democratic, progressive��� groups out there, with all these great ideas. They just don���t agree with each other. The Republicans, at least have enough unity to hold them together (I���m not saying they do it ethically, but they do it). You say one wrong word to a Democrat and they just say ���goodbye, you���re irrelevant���. They have no interest in each other at all as near as I can tell. On the other hand, the Republicans STILL think I���m important, even though I���m AGAINST EVEYTHING THEY ARE FOR. They still talk to me, try to convince me of their stand. Man, maybe I WOULD be better off with them? Just think, I���d be RICH, POWERFUL, and RIGHT!!! All in on! And have an entire COMMUNITY who supports me. ( Albeit, gained in a morally wrong way.) Instead, here I am; downtrodden, alone, a total ���loser���.

By the way, just WHAT IS the Democrats��� stand? Does anybody know? I wrote what I thought it was, but none of them agreed, so it���s in my drawer.

Does anybody see any real reason for me to stick it out with this bunch of ���losers���? I���m SERIOUS. ANYBODY?

Posted by: Pamela at December 14, 2004 02:24 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

If the Dems pick Dean as their chair, you may see attitudes beginning to change. I think you'll see more openess (if that's even a word) from the top down and hopefully it will spread to the rand and file. Dems have watched Republicans present their views as simple (stem cells, abortion, Iraq, economy, etc) and it is very frustrating. In effect, and it doesn't jive with the way the rank and file Republicans have talked with you, the top-level guys are telling us that our opinions don't matter by not addressing them in their public comments.

Hang in there, I think things will improve. Some things will come from the bottom up and others will come from the top down.

Posted by: Dan Hogan at December 14, 2004 09:38 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

patting my DemsAbroad compadres on the back a little: our blog in Japan was the first for a DemsAbroad country committee (we're considered a 'State', so a country committee is like a precinct).
the creation of demsjapan was inspired by BFA and Kos.

and the larger org. has an official one as well:

There's a new DemsAbroad IT committee that will bring the whole organization out of yahoo dependency and into private and public blogs, and other IT tools. We're especially proud of John McQueen, a very technophobic moderate diehard Dem who allowed Chris Shannon, our IT guy, to set up a blog called Wednesday Wire, with quick analyses of the political scene: http://www.wonkspot.com/wire/index.html

Of course, Chris does the editing and posting, but the older guard, who aren't very wired, are very proud of this move forward, as are we techies:-) It's really become a way to bring the two communities together around something fun and useful.

Posted by: TerrinTokyo at December 29, 2004 12:48 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment