Saturday, May 10, 2008

Oh, Was There a Democratic Convention Today Too?

My email to Ric Cantrell of The Senate Site:


I'm going to have my liberal card revoked for writing this email, but writing it I am, nonetheless.

What you guys have done with the convention website, and coverage is admirable and impressive.

What better lesson for Democratic leadership in the state that their voice is all but silent today. Even those like myself with allegiance to the party and Democratic ideology are turning to the "Leadership" site (and Tom Gover's live blogging as well, heh) for news of Utah elections. I couldn't even begin to put my frustration at that reality into words right now.

I have to assume we would disagree greatly on what's best for the future of our state when it comes to policy, but you have my utmost respect for what you are bringing to the table in engaging citizens in the process.

The SideTrack
Trust me folks, this was a very difficult email to write, but I believe that it's important to give credit where credit is due.

And there is no way around this one: The Utah Republican Party is kicking our ass in utilizing new technology to engage voters in the state. I've talked to a multitude of Democrats in the state today that have been relying on the Republican Party's convention website for news (which of course means that the Republican Party currently has total message control for concerned citizens). I've even talked to Democrats who weren't aware there even was a Democratic convention today, where it was, or where they could find information online about how things were going. And I don't need to tell those of you proficient in 21st century technology that this fact is a near polar opposite of the experience voters in other states experience. The national Democratic Party leads by a mile on utilizing cheap, and easy online resources for messaging, fundraising, and building coalitions.

Unexpected circumstance keep me at home today, instead of in the trenches of the convention floor as I had planned, and if I didn't have a good set of cell phone numbers in my contact list, and the sheer nerve to keep calling and pestering folks for updates, I would have no idea (as is probably the case for most other Democrats in Utah right now) what was going on in my own party's convention.

Ridiculous, to say the least.


  1. Yes, and I didn't see you there, or doing anything to help.

    Keep whining, do nothing.

  2. You don't know me, Anonymous, nor do you lack the courage of conviction enough to post that comment with a name or trackback link, so I will let it slide.

    Over the years I have contributed many hours of time, and made countless donations to both the Utah Democrats, and Democrats in other states. But just as you attempt to point out with your childish "gotcha" comment, I speak my frustration for those who could not be there for personal or professional reasons, that still had no avenue of obtaining information outside of what was going on in the Republican events.

    Websites are not expensive. Blogs are completely free, and Rob and Utah Amicus are carrying the Democratic Party's online presence almost entirely, and Rob still has to do his day job, if you know what I mean. That is ridiculous for the Utah branch of the party that has consistently led - in other states - in the use of online resources for engaging voters and creating transparency.

    In fact, previous to the convention, the Utah Democratic Party Blog had ONE post... on May 7th... about the Deseret News' (admittedly) bad reporting. Not a single mention of the convention, convention events, etc.

    So, Anonymous, you do make a somewhat valid point you that you did not feel strongly enough about to put your name on. But the other side of that point is that everyone cannot be everywhere at all times, and it is the responsibility of party leadership to do everything within their power to create access, engage voters and activists, and grow the party to win elections.

    Burying your own convention while the Utah GOP is copying the National Democrats in technology use is a far cry from doing just that.

  3. Jason, thank you for saying what so many of us have been feeling.

    A wordpress account would have been free, and allowed for the posting of video, audio, and campaign messages that would have given thousands access to information, and what the Republicans have done with the Leadership that Matters website is prime example of just that.

    Even a paid webpage would have cost (at most!) $50 to set up, and $10/mo to maintain. So money cannot be the issue.

    I suspect that the obstacle here for the party is manpower to make these things happen, and if that is the case, someone needs to ask Wayne Holland just what direction he is taking this party in. Not one staffer has the time or know-how to make a few youtube videos and post them on a blog or website? And if that is the case, perhaps it is time for a better set of staffers?

    In following this cycle it seems glaringly obvious that great work has been done in recruiting superb candidates, and to now waste that by not taking advantage of every road to getting a message out seems very short sighted, and like you have pointed out, very different from what we see the Dem's doing in other states.

    Is it not fair to ask why, before we offer up another single dollar in donation? Much like investing in a business, I am hesitant to fund, even with my tiny contribution, an organization that has not effective messaging machine, and seems blind to opportunities that exist and lie wasting on the roadside.

  4. Good line of questioning.

    When I moved here from Denver, one of the first things I noticed was how difficult it was to get information about party events and candidates/policy.

    There, I could visit a simple webpage or a the blogs of party leaders. Here, I have to make calls, and hope that I get a call back. Often I don't.

  5. I've volunteered several times to help build some sort of online machine, both at the county level and through the Salt Lake office. Each time I've been told that isn't the direction the party is heading right now, or that money just hasn't been set aside for such endeavors. And each time I have heard that, I've thought it was a big mistake.

    You're correct in assuming this will hurt the party. It already is.

  6. As an unaffiliated voter, I can tell you that I know quite a bit (more even after yesterday) about the Republican candidates. I don't even know the names of many Democratic candidates. And as far as I know, I would like to vote for a few of them, were I aware they existed.

  7. Endorse this as a goal for 2008. I did, as will everyone I know.

    Thanks for speaking out about this guys. Nice to see some using their voice to make a difference.

  8. Many Democrats on the hill have fought initiatives like this for years. I don't know if they are afraid of the new media, or if they are afraid of losing their cushy minority party positions. Either way, I could get behind sending them a message. It would be nice to have a candidate or two to vote for now and then. Utah Amicus has been great to keep candidate info up, but I haven't hear much else from in the lines of communication from the party.

  9. Thanks to all of you for your comments. The feedback here and through email has been great.

    Our goal here isn't to point the finger or name names, but rather to point out that the Utah party is falling behind, and needs to focus on utilizing these tools already available.

    More on this later...

  10. Jason your dead on as a strict conservitive right wing religous nut job, looking for some good leadership this year, the dems are missing out on a total opertunity to get there word out to a very upset group of people right now and i got to say when i saw the coverage and it showed the republicans lined up and filling there place and the dems sitting around and a bunch of empty chairs in a place that looked like an elementry school cafateria its kind of hard to think they have any way of getting there voice out or are atracting us people they should be targeting this year your dead on again jas

  11. Thanks for the Email. I thought we were trying to catch up with you.


  12. Kudos to the GOP for their coverage. When you referred to Tom's live blogging at the GOP convention I chuckled because I checked in 4 or 5 times on Saturday to see what he had to say, and I'm a Democrat!!

    If nobody steps up to live blog the democratic convention next year Jasonthe; you, me, and Jeff are there!