Wednesday, November 05, 2008

California: No Door to Door?

It's becoming very clear that the No on 8 campaign in California specifically told its volunteers not to door knock and most especially not to door knock African Americans, who overwhelmingly voted against marriage equality in California (seriously, read through those comments). They were not helping volunteers willing to canvass and were focused on wonderful things like doing standouts in gay-friendly areas of San Francisco. Big help, preaching to the choir, that is.

If these comments that keep bubbling up are true - and there's a lot of them - then the people who ran the No on 8 campaign were completely incompetent and should never be given the reigns of a major statewide campaign again. Don't canvass weak neighborhoods? Here's one undeniable fact about politics: If you don't ask for someone's vote, they're not likely to give it to you. I can't imagine how many tens of thousands of lost opportunities we had in African American communities because the No on 8 campaign simply decided not to show up. Clearly, if this is true, we didn't deserve their votes. We owed it to them - and us - to be in those neighborhoods, asking for the votes and pleading with them not to strip our rights.

I've done a lot of campaign work in my short life, including leading them, and the most important work to be done is canvassing, by far. It's the best way to reach voters. To think that people were told not to go reach voters, or specific voters, is almost beyond comprehension. The poor souls who got married and will now have their licenses revoked ought to be outraged. And they ought to demand competent, professional campaigning led by someone of the caliber of David Plouffe or John Walsh, not people who are too timid to canvass communities they think won't actually vote for us in high numbers. If you're not changing hearts and minds with strong messaging, you're not winning. Period.

Thankfully, all is not lost in California. There's plenty of reason to hope that Proposition 8 will be thrown out in the courts, because it appears to violate Californian Constitutional Law in that it is a "revision" of the constitution, not truly an amendment. In effect, Prop 8 makes says equal rights exist for all but one subgroup, which in turn violates the equal rights clause in and of itself. So, to be valid, it would have to remove the meaning of what's already there - a revision, not an addition, not an amendment. The CA Constitution stipulates that to revise the constitution in California, to make such exceptions to subgroups, it must come from the legislative branch and include a super majority. Of course, this all depends on the Californian Supreme Court's backbone. And, sadly, this tiny bit of good news is no thanks to the No on 8 campaign.


laurel said...

I'm in no mood to cast blame on the NO on Prop 8 campaign (for whom I volunteered). I'm sure lessons can be learned and it's worth looking into at some point, but you know, when you have a homophobic public, even the best-run campaign will not prevail. Remember, no such amendment has ever failed in the United States of Hate. The one exception, AZ of 2006, was remedied this year. And then we had Obama piling on. No, I'm not going to throw feces at the decisions NO on 8 made. I'm going to throw them where they belong - at the bigots and at the legions of lgbt "allies" who let the bigots go unchallenged.

Ryan said...

Laurel, it lost by 4 points. If they did canvassing en mass, they would have won. If they had been an assertive campaign instead of a reactive campaign - letting the Yes on 8 side control the conversation - that also would have made up the 4 points.

I know you're not in the mood to cast blame - and I know there's a lot of people who worked hard for No on 8, including its leaders, but we need to learn from its mistakes and we need to learn now. Then we need to hire professional campaigners who will lead canvassing efforts all across the state and start the campaign to repeal Proposition 8 within a month from now.

There's some chance it may be thrown out of the courts, I hope, but we can't depend on it. If we run a two year campaign and never stop, we'll win in 2010. But the people who led this past effort can't be let in charge - and we can't employ the same tactics.

Laurel said...

I'm not arguing - you may be right. But I wasn't there in influence the decisions, and I think neither were you. It is easy to coach from the sidelines. Another reason for failure is that only about 45% of SF people voted. WTF? When the east coast polls closed and exit polls showed Obama up, CA voted stayed home. That easily caused the loss right there. The of course the Obama thing. He had a significant effect on the vote. I agree that things could have been done better/differently (I REALLY wanted to canvass), but the reousrces were very limited until just a few weeks before the vote. Whose fault is that? Were "our" churches strongarming their members like th catholics and mormons were? No. You see, so much blame to go around. I am not willing to lay the defeat at the feet of the campaign decisionmakers alone. I'm sure they made mistakes. But so did everyone from Obama on down.

Ryan said...

Absolutely. Hopefully, this loss will spark everyone to actually do something about it. There's room for improvement from all angles.

Joel Patterson said...

Ryan's definitely right.

It's an obvious oversight on the part of No On 8's leaders--while African Americans may have had more of tendency to vote Yes, a competent leader could have found a way to speak to the black community and humanize the gay people whose civil rights were threatened. Would it have killed them to ask Deval Patrick to show up at a couple of events? He could just say, "the sky hasn't fallen in Mass and discrimination doesn't belong in Constitutions." I think I recall even Jesse Jackson speaking up 4 years ago against those anti-gay marriage initiatives in other states. The leaders of No on 8 had some powers they didn't use. That's a pity.

Ryan said...

I bet Patrick definitely would have done it, especially if No on 8 asked MassEquality to ask for them. The GLBT community does see Patrick as sort of a national hero - as well they should.

Anonymous said...

Now for some positive dialog from Sal's biggest detractor. The idea that gay men and women cannot marry and be either miserable like half of the married folk and happy like the other half makes no sense. Marry your puppy if you wish, just shut up about it. I guess what I am saying is who gives a crap if two men marry each other. Shut the front door, don't preach to me about how you are getting hosed, and most people will leave you the hell alone. The famous Nike ad said "Just do it." I say "Just shut up."

Laurel said...

joel, black voters did support the prop at a higher rate than whites and latinos, but blacks only make up about 10% of the electorate. they didn't pass this thing alone. PLENTY of bigoted whites and latinos and others cast voted for the hate amendment. if you want to point fingers, ask each ethnic group to tell you how they will reduce bigotry within themselves. laying all the blame on one group is not useful. and again, it was obama who totally failed withing that group as well as others. did you know taht his canvassers were not told what he thought about the prop? so if asked and if they didn't happen to know (many of them didn't), then the voter was left to glean whatever they could from obama's constant refrain of "one man one woman". let's give credit where credit is due.

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