Friday, September 30, 2005

Stong communities are blue communities

Ever since I started to read Bowling Alone I've had this impression that stong community ties, strong civic values, are elements of progressive and Democratic communities. Specifically the level of trust people have with each other, I've been thinking, is a direct line to their trust of local institutions such as government.

Since Democrats tend to like government more that Republicans... well, you get the point.

Eric over at the Cascadia Scorecard
points to a study by Ichiro Kawachi, a Harvard man, that shows that states with stong civic connections also vote Dem.

While studying the connections between social capital and health I stumbled across something rather odd. States with high social capital--strong connections between people and their communities--tend to vote democratic.

Harvard researcher, Ichiro Kawachi, one of the leading lights on social capital and health, has performed several studies that make state-by-state comparisons; and he's shown that, on average, states with higher social capital also have better health outcomes. But as I was peering over some of his charts I couldn't help but notice that states with higher social capital also tended to be "blue" states--they voted for John Kerry in the last presidential election.

Unfortunately, Kawachi reports the results for only 36 states (the others did not have sufficient data to support his study) so my little "finding" here refers only to those states, though they do include all the big ones. That's just one of the limitations, but I still think it's interesting that 6 of the 10 states with the highest social capital voted for Kerry in the 2004 elections. Meanwhile, 8 of the 10 states with the lowest social capital voted for George Bush in '04.

...While Kawachi never mentions the voting comparison, in a separate study he offers a plausible explanation in the context of health outcomes. He suggests that high social capital leads to more civic engagement and, in turn, to more investment of resources, money, and concern into the community at large. For Kawachi, that investment is a partial explanation for better health outcomes--places with high social capital care more about the welfare of others.

Democrats should talk about this in a serious way, and more than just in "Its takes a village" sort of way. Just because large government social programs have mostly failed doesn't mean that the moral obligations to our communities and neighbors aren't still there. It is still our responsibility to be good neighbors.

Should I care if people from exurbs vote for my guy?
It's community, stupid
I couldn't agree more, build communities
The future of parties

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Onion: Some Sort of Primary Just Happened

With less than 40 percent turn out, less than public candidates and one contested race between two cities of a total of more than 50,000 souls, it just about feels that way, doesn't it?

The Onion:
OLYMPIA, WA—A primary election of some sort is believed to have occurred in the past week or two in cities and counties across the nation, according to a report published by a citizens advocacy group.

Although the report stopped short of affirming the claim, the Fair Election Advocacy Council believes that local political offices as diverse as mayor, city councilman, district attorney, and perhaps a judgeship or two may have been contested.


"Am I crazy, or was there an election or something not too long ago?" said Olympia, WA resident Rochelle Fleischman, who recalled receiving a multilingual "yellow thing" in the mail several weeks ago that may have been an election-related notice. She promptly discarded it with other junk mail.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

TCYD Young Voter Forum and our endorsements

The most telling part of the forum last night was who didn't show up. The much discussed here Michael Normoyle didn't show up, Ira Knight didn't pop his head in, and neither did John Griogair Bell.

From past experience and recent election results, folks that only got into the city council races just before the filing deadline have a small chance of actually winning. Most of what they can expect to do is change what is being discussed during the race so that the winners can be held accountable when they're serving. But how in the hell do you change what is being discussed in the race if you don't even show up? Last night was free advertising for you!

A few days ago I complained about civic life in Lacey and Tumwater, but at least both Dick Yates and John Darby (the only two candidates in Lacey) showed up last night.

Here is a list of the folks we decided to endorse following the forum last night:

Chuck Namit – North Thurston School Board, District 2
Karen Messmer – City of Olympia, Position 4
Jeff Kingsbury – City of Olympia, Position 5
Doug Mah – City of Olympia, Position 6
Joe Hyer – City of Olympia, Position 7
Ed Stanley – Port of Olympia, District 3
Steve Klein – City of Yelm, Mayor

The position that we had the most discussion on was Position 6 for Olympia, which came down to a close vote. Here are my notes from the forum.

2,500 Olympians

Two-thousand five hundred Olympians voted for a guy that can't spell "wave" or "pundit." Returning solid leadeship, just not spelling or usage.

Monday, September 19, 2005

It's community, stupid

Don't blame it all on government, however. Part of our loss of community may be explained by the simple fact that we don't put down deep roots as individuals and families because we don't stay put the way we used to. How many of your friends live in their parents' home towns?

And if home town is such a nebulous concept, should we be surprised that serious thought is being given to rebuilding New Orleans as a city full of charming old-style houses, with railed balconies and lovely verandas -- but empty of the "blight" of poor people?

The idea -- fortunately not yet the prevailing one -- seems to be that the poor would stay where they've been temporarily relocated. Or maybe just disappear. Where is the "community" in that?

Strong communities typically have vibrant civic cultures, which keep government acountable to the needs of the community. The breakdown of communities drive a wedge between people, erode our trust in each other, alienates us from government and we all end up like Bill O'Reilly.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

"Sign Waive" for Ira Knight, and fighting those pundants

A new Olympia city council website over on the left with Ira Knight's Not much to say about this new entry, other than it is pretty typical of the sites so far, which mostly repeat what I assume the candidates are putting in their printed material.

That is to say that I hope Mr. Knight is proofreading his printed material better than his website. He does offer and interesting way to volunteer: Sign waiving.

In a campaign season that has been long on platitudes and short on specifics, Knights website does give you a small clue of what he is actually about. No fan of the nuke free ordinance or spelling:
Focus on local issues that affect our community, not geopolitical pundants or special interest groups.
Pretty sure he meant pundit(s).

Friday, September 16, 2005

Civic life in Tumwater and Lacey

What does it say about civic life in Tumwater and Lacey that between the two cities, with eight positions up for election, only one person has challenged an incumbent? Half of Tumwater city government is being decided, and the majority of Lacey's is up for grabs.

No one can tell me there aren't important issues in either city, especially in Tumwater.

Kendall for Kennewick City Council (well no)

Short of anyone running for Olympia City Council who is blogging, Kendall Miller, a candidate for Kennewick city hall, is putting his thoughts online. Its almost disapointing that he really doesn't want to win, but that actually makes his blog better reading.

Here's his take on the newspaper endorsement interview:
It was my first time, of course, dealing directly with media. The senior members of the board seemed offended by the very idea that someone would run for office with the expressed desire to not be elected. "Why waste people's time?", they asked. But whose time am I wasting? Certainly not the voter's. They were complaining because I was wasting their time. I'm not wasting any more of their time than they themselves want to put into it. Would they rather I mount a lame campaign and pretend that I hope to win? At least they have the option to dismiss me if they choose, an option they wouldn't have if I was pretending.

The other members could see the humor in the situation. There was a reporter present as well who smiled a good deal. There will be an interview with him later one-on-one. It will be interesting to see what angle he takes on my story.
I also like this from his candidate statement:
I have no experience in public service. I am fairly ignorant of recent issues faced by our city. I have no articulated platform that would give you any idea how I would fulfill the duties of this office. I have the support of no particular political party. I have no special talents that would be helpful as a councilman. I don't even remember names very well.

When you see my name on the ballot, the most dangerous thing you could do is vote for me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

October Thurston County Dem Meetup: I-912 and Taxes

Thurston County Democrat Discussion Group will take on the issues brought up by I-912, which seeks to revoke the recent 9.5 cent gas tax. We will also discuss progressively framing the broader issue of taxation.

Olympia Center
222 Columbia St NW
Olympia, WA
Room 102 (first floor)

The Discussion Group is a meeting for Democrats in Thurston County who want a "low impact" informative meeting to discuss topics of the day and to get more involved in the Democratic Party.

For more information on groups fighting I-912, go to:

For more information on the Democrat Discussion Group, go to:

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Nicole writes back

Didn't take her very long. She's cool:
Hi Emmett,

Thanks for the note. I'm from a lot of people that the $19/monthly fee was why a lot of them left ... I guess I underestimated the effect that would have ... Figured the organizer could collect a dollar from everyone in the group and still have money leftover for coffee ...

But you're right: SO many other options. It's a great idea to ask the DNC for some help ...

Thanks for writing.

Best and peace,

RE: Meetup sadly quiet in Seattle

Nicole Brodeur sort of misses the point in her column this morning. Its not that online organizing (by youngsters even) is buying the farm, its just that its leaving

I wrote her an email:

Ms. Brodeur,

Great column this morning.

One thing you didn't pick up on is that – which had been a free service all the way back to the Howard Dean meetups (which I attended down here in Olympia) – has recently become a pay service. This has been hard on politically themed meetups, which have started leaving to develop their own online organizing tools.

For example, and, have gone there own way:

Just because its not happening on doesn't mean that online organizing isn't still going on. For example when started charging, we in Olympia decided to move our meetup from their site onto our county Democrat website. Since the election, our group has evolved into a Democrat current events discussion/letter writing group, and in the last meeting, we even discussed dropping the term "meetup."

The hardest part about leaving has been our drop in profile. Some people interested in getting involved would be more likely to find us at than come to the county party website. I've advocated for the DNC to launch a free, meetup type tool for local communities, much like the efforts and

Also, just wanted to add that I'm 29, so I fit the bill as a young organizer.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Thurston Young Democrats To Hold Candidate Forum

Boy, its Young Democrat press release day, by gum. Or, its Hillary Hunt press release day, by giminy.

Hillary Hunt: (360) 609-2393
Danielle Westbrook: (360) 280-2533

Young Democrats To Hold Candidate Forum

The Thurston County Young Democrats will hold a forum focused on the issues of young voters featuring candidates for local office across Thurston County. The forum will be held on September 21, at 7:00 p.m. at the Capital Playhouse Theater in Olympia. The forum will be moderated by State Representative Brendan Williams.

"It's not often that candidates at any level really address young people," said Hillary Hunt, president of the Thurston County Young Democrats. "This will be an opportunity to speak to young people, but for them to also hear our concerns."

Following a social half hour starting at 6:30 p.m., candidates will take prepared questions and questions from attendees. Forum attendees can vote for their favorite candidates by putting money into jars marked with each candidate's name. Donations will go to the Thurston County Young Democrats.

Young Democrats Candidate Forum

Capital Playhouse
612 East Fourth Avenue
Olympia WA

Wednesday, September 21
6:30 Social half hour
7:00 Forum

For more information on the Thurston County Young Democrats, go to:

New Washington Young Dem website

As much as I don't like the term "blogosphere," because it implies a seperation from the real world, this is an amazingly good thing for Young Dems.


September 5, 2005

For more information, contact:
Hillary Hunt, YDWA VP for Communications
(360) 609-2393
Jacob Metcalf, Technology Director

Young Democrats of Washington Launch New Website

Redesign Creates a Place for Young Party Activists in Blogosphere

The Young Democrats of Washington are proud to announce a major redesign of their website (

This new website is powered by the Movable Type publishing engine and features a fast, modern design, as well as easily accessible content and the latest web syndication features.

The new focuses on grassroots organizing, by helping to connect young Democratic activists across the state and by providing a realm where interested young voters can learn more about the party. The site will help build a greater sense of community among young Democratic political activists across the state. YDWA members will use this inclusive atmosphere to encourage more young voters to become active within Democratic Party.

Visitors to will be able to participate in an ongoing dialog about political issues on the new blog. The site will also publicize major political events across the state, as well as specific events organized by Young Democrats chapters in Washington.

Further additions to the site include an online Photo Gallery ( filled with pictures of the Young Democrats political activities.

"This really is exciting. The Young Democrats of Washington just entered the blogosphere and I hope that this site becomes a premier political website for young progressive voters all over the state and beyond," said YDWA Technology Director Jacob Metcalf.

Friday, September 02, 2005