Guide for Activists

Communication

For any DFC activist who would like to participate in Democratic politics or a local Democratic club, a low key approach is recommended: listening to find out what issues and candidates are being talked about, and hearing the views of different members, so you’ll have a feel for which people might be most open to freedom-oriented views.

Then,  as you get to know them, and as they get to know and trust you, they will be more open to suggestions and comments, especially those involving a responsible transition approach toward more freedom.

One-on-one conversations seem to work best. When you hear someone who sounds especially open to freedom-oriented views, you might want to either give that person some literature or a website address.

For example, you might give them a copy of the DFC flyer (which can be printed from the Principles section of the DFC website, or you might refer them to the DFC website itself:

http://www.democraticfreedomcaucus.org

Another useful website is that of an Internet magazine, The Progress Report, which has many relevant articles from a freedom-oriented viewpoint.

Also, the book, Reinventing Government, by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler, presents practical ways to introduce incentives and choice into public services, to improve quality and cost-efficiency, and which appeals to many Democrats.

You might consider volunteering for a committee in the local Democratic club, which would give you the opportunity for significant input, as well as dialogue with other Democrats.

 

Issues

Many Democrats are fairly good about supporting most civil liberties, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, privacy, etc. But many Democrats are not yet familiar with economic liberty, so that is where special attention is needed, and the right approach is necessary.

On economic liberty, we’ve found that a good way to get the attention of fellow Democrats is to focus on three main issues:

1) Getting rid of corporate welfare (including subsidies, regulatory favoritism, monopolistic licensing laws, etc), which hurts the economy and causes extreme inequality.

2) Introducing incentives and customer choice into public services, to improve quality and cost-efficiency. For example, proposing non-sectarian school vouchers, which can be used for any school that meets the same requirements as public schools (open enrollment, no discrimination, non-sectarian, etc.), instead of religious school vouchers, which many Democrats consider to be a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee that government should not favor any religion over others.

Many examples of the use of incentives and customer choice for public services are given in the book, Reinventing Government, mentioned above.

3) Shifting taxes off of labor and production (lowering or getting rid of wage taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, building taxes, etc., which punish labor and productivity, and raise consumer prices), and instead using a tax on land and natural resources, which no person produced – it is the only kind of tax that is not a tax on labor or production.

There are many prominent advocates of individual liberty who have endorsed shifting to a land value tax: Thomas Jefferson, Thomas paine, Benjamin Franklin, John Stuart Mill, the Heartland Foundation, and many others. It has also been endorsed by eight Nobel Prize economists.

Many Democrats are intrigued by this approach. In fact, in most of the cities that are trying it in the U.S., Democratic officeholders have led the way. Shifting taxes off of labor and production and over to a land value tax has been shown to lead to more job creation, more affordable housing, economic development, and less urban sprawl.

It’s relevant to point out to fellow Democrats that the Democratic Party was founded by Thomas Jefferson and other “classical liberals” (the word “liberal” originally referred to “liberty”), in contrast to neo-liberals. Like Jefferson, classical liberals oppose corporate welfare and bureaucracy, and support the whole Bill of Rights.

 

Local Democratic Clubs

Anyone who would like to participate in a local Democratic club can find the nearest one by looking at the list of state and county contacts in the Democratic National Committee’s Democratic Web, at: http://www.democrats.org/about/in_your_state/

 

Local Committee Persons

One of the ways to help the Democratic Party move in the direction of more practical policies is to connect with your local Committee Persons, who are elected in the Democratic Party primary (sometimes called Ward Committeemen and Ward Committeewomen). Typically, there are two local Committee Persons: one male, and one female. The local Committee Persons meet with other Committee Persons in the city or county Democratic Party.

Committee Persons have the potential to influence which candidates are endorsed and promoted by the Party, and can influence the direction of the local Democratic Party.

Also, voters can be in touch with their local Committee Persons, find out what policies and candidates they advocate, and whether they’re open to alternative policies.

If a current Committee Person seems reasonably open-minded, then in such cases it might be best to keep that person in office, and not run against that person in the primary election. Only in cases where that  Committee Person continues to be closed to alternatives, then it could be appropriate to support a different candidate for that local position.

Also, sometimes a Committee Person seat is vacant, if no one has run for that position, or if the County Chair has not appointed someone to fill that vacancy between Committee Person elections.

It’s usually easy to get on the ballot to run as a Democratic Party Committee Person, such as just getting a handful of signatures.

If you’re not yet familiar with your two local Committee Persons, you can find out who they are by contacting either a local Democratic club, or the county Democratic Party.

We also recommend that you participate in the DFC email list for news and activism: DFC_talk. You can subscribe directly from the DFC website – see the page for “Get Involved”.