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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Clubs: The Peril...and the Promise

Throughout my time in the DEC, Democratic clubs have consistently been portrayed as "problems." "They don't do anything", "They're all too old", "What a royal pain in the ass", are some of the sample phrases I've heard. I, too have been frustrated with clubs. Its often like trying to herd cats.

You've seen me write about clubs before, and what they could do if they were better organized.

However, with a bit more experiences under my belt, I want to talk some more about these vital institutions.

Clubs, in my opinion, have been "such a pain" largely because there has been minimal to zero DEC oversight. The DEC is too busy trying to keep its own house together, than it doesn't have the time, the people, or the resources to deal with clubs, which are miniature versions of the DEC. Clubs have been left to their own devices, and because of that, they have found the best way to survive is to be as independent as possible from the DEC and from any outside force.

So when the latest round of regulation came down, requiring that in order for clubs to re certified by the state party - they would have to register as PACs for financial purposes - you would think they were asked to switch parties or something! We were getting calls from frustrated club presidents, saying their clubs wouldn't be able to re certify, as they couldn't get anyone to do the job of being treasurer. To refresh everyone's memory, reporting contributions and expenditures every quarter isn't rocket science. Candidates have to do it, and often in more frequent intervals. So you can understand the frustration on the DEC's end, hearing the blood and tears coming from the clubs.

However, this is also an opportunity. Clubs will undoubtedly fold because of this. But is it a bad thing? If a club can't get the wherewithal to do the very simple task of financial reporting - then they probably won't be able to step up to the plate on bigger items - like actually organizing their communities and beating the Republicans.

Another great opportunity that is presenting itself is the possibility of building new clubs with some youth in them. Most clubs in Marion County and around the state have an average age in the mid 60s probably. Typically people below 60 (the boomers and my generation) don't join "clubs." Clubs are synonymous with old men wearing red fez caps and singing ridiculous songs and performing embarrassing rituals.

We're going to have to transform the club model to make it work for younger people...but that's another post.


Jennifer said...

I actually like the club in my town better than the DEC ... oh, and they had no trouble getting recertified. Go figure.

Ray Seaman said...

Yep, its different everywhere. I should have added that not all Marion clubs are like this. We have a few who have re certified with no hassle at all.

Like I said, I think there is more promise than peril here.

Union Democrats said...

Did you see all the angry discussion at "The Buzz" about Republican Women's clubs? Lots of them seem upset at Jim Greer.
I found the DEC unable to be open to ideas abd somewhat inflexible. I prefer to work on campaigns.

Eddie said...

The Florida Young Democrats are experiencing a bit of a resurgence lately with several counties getting chartered in the state in the last few months.

I'm a member of the Brevard County Young Dems and we just got our charter. We are definitely going to get involved, especially with grassroots, people-powered campaigning. We'll be out there phonebanking and canvassing. We're also working closely with our DEC.

You can read about our experiences at Grassroots Brevard.