Monday, March 14, 2005

On Persistence

Allow me to begin by telling you a story...

December, 2004. Passwords and access for the new Voter Relationship Management website, sometimes (inaccurately) called "Demzilla," are given to people in Dallas County. A technical lead in the county begins creating accounts. He has questions, so he posts them on the online help forum on December 27. There is no answer to his questions posted.

February, 2005. I get my account and start to play around with the system. Some functions are obvious, some not so much. I notice that the technical lead's questions haven't been answered yet.

March, 2005. I start developing training for the system in earnest in order to roll it out to precinct chairs in the county. March 3. I post about ten questions on the website. No answer. March 4. I send an email to the technical support email address on the website, politely drawing their attention to the questions posted on the forum. I get an out of office auto-reply. March 8. I get on the phone with the state party. They say that they noticed my email and ask me to send them the questions. I, politely, do so. March 10. I follow up my email with a polite phone call. Did you get it? Did all of my questions make sense? March 14: I'm still waiting. I'm going to wait a couple of more days and follow-up with another phone call. If all else fails, I'll try the state party chair. ;)

Now, I post this story, not in order to rag on the state party, but in order to illustrate what I want to talk about: Persistence.

Make persistence a habit of mind.

If you want to make a difference, it is not enough to make one phone call or send one email. Once you set your sights on your goal, continue until it is achieved. No matter what. You will encounter obstacles everywhere you go. I am sure the fine folks at the state party office have many things on their plate and are overworked. People get distracted by personal issues. Phone messages get lost. Emails get accidentally deleted. Do not allow inefficiency to daunt you! Treat it as a game. Keep score. How long will it take you to get what you need?

However, here's a cardinal rule you MUST heed: never, EVER, be rude or impolite. That's the fastest way for your emails to go unread or your phone calls to go unreturned.

A lot of people seem to have this attitude towards organizations such as their local Democratic party organization, or the government itself. The attitude is, "Gee, there's a problem here. Someone needs to take care of that."

Well, that "someone" is YOU.

Stop thinking of your government (or the Democratic party) as this huge, hierarchical organization, and you're this liiiiitle tiny peon down at the bottom, at the base of the pyramid, and all the power is up at the top of the pyramid, in the Chair position, or in the presidency, and all you can do (poor me!) is whine and complain about how things are going.

Stop that. Stop it now.

You are an American citizen, and you own that government. You are a Democrat and you own that Democratic party All of it belongs to you. The pyramid is upside down. It's balancing on its pointy tip. You, the citizen. are standing on the broad flat base of the pyramid. You're at the top, and the President is waaaaay down there at the bottom, under the crushing weight of all of us.

It's your country! It's your Democratic party! Crack the whip, be persistent, sound your barbaric yawp unto the world (not once but many, many times if necessary) and above all, grab the wheel and DRIVE. When I saw Howard Dean speak at the 21st Century Democrats training last year, he said that it is no longer enough for us to just vote.

"Just voting gets you a D. That's barely passing."

I'm going to say it again: VOTING IS NOT ENOUGH. We have to contribute money to campaigns, or work on a campaign, or run for office ourselves. Every single one of us. And we have to be persistent! We have to take control of our government, we have to take control of our Democratic party, and we can't let a few people who won't return our emails or phone calls stand in our way! We have to nag and nag and nag and raise hell and follow up and ACT until WE GET WHAT WE WANT!

Now go out there and raise hell!


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