And speaking of frames, Jeff Feldman of The Frame Shop led a workshop on that topic Saturday morning. It included an exercise on developing your thirty-second elevator speech for the news of the day (or week). But the seminar I attended prior to that was entitled "Film as an Organizing Tool" and featured excerpts from the new Robert Greenwald documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. As Al Norman, the virtual one-man crusader against Wal-Mart says:
Wal-Mart, through its own excesses, has become a caricature of itself--- a cartoon company symbolizing what Sinclair Lewis called the "completest boredom" of America. Wal-Mart is no longer just a store, or even a corporation. It is an icon of uncontrollable lucre, the Orwellian business machine with a greeter at the sliding doors.
Mrs. Diddie and I split to cover two workshops before lunchtime; she went to "Religion, Democracy, and the Common Good" and I attended "Turning Red States Blue", which was moderated by DFT political director Glen Maxey, political consultant Sandra Ramos, and Dallas County sheriff Lupe Valdez. Maxey's best point was that there is still a majority of Americans who do not vote at all, and his campaigns (Maxey served six terms as an openly gay state representative) typically concentrated on projects to register new voters that involved activities like posting -- or holding -- signs on streets and intersections all over the city of Austin directing people to where to register that day. His GOTV efforts likewise focused not on the frequent voters whose opinions are entrenched but on these first-timers; in calls and GOTV literature they were told when to vote, where to vote, what to bring with them when they went to vote, what to expect when they got to the polling place, etc. Rather than force the virgin voter to look up this data, they tried to make the activity of voting more accessible and less intimidating to people who hadn't done it before (or who hadn't done so in a long while).
Ramos, a veteran of seven congressional campaigns in Colorado last year, six of which were victorious with all of those seats previously held by Republicans, said that the Democratic success she managed was due to having candidates who matched the district, and letting those candidates be themselves. One unique example she cited was the cowboy who simply couldn't blockwalk and canvass for votes; he instead held cookouts and barbecues in every park in the district, and he played his guitar and sang about his campaign message. And Lupe Valdez' best advice was, as a candidate, to find a campaign cause that no one can disagree with and dwell on that. It's counter-productive to spend time talking about issues that are divisive when there are issues that everyone can agree on.
I'm going to devote the next post to Mrs. Diddie's notes on the "Religion" seminar, a post by my friend CitySky who was also in attendance, and some related links.