Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Democratic Party: A Vision of Purpose

Democrats Should Support the Forming
Of Democracy Clubs In Local Schools

One objective that I am urging the Montgomery County Democratic Party to make as a top priority is the objective of significantly raising the level of civic education of Montgomery County voters. This objective is part of a what I see as the Democratic Party’s overall vision of party purpose.

I heard a speech about vision this weekend at the Methodist Ohio Conference by a nationally known Methodist preacher from Kansas. This preacher (I forget his name) illustrated his point about what a vision of a church should be by quoting the vision statement of Hallmark, the greeting card company. Hallmark’s vision statement goes something like, “Our vision is to enrich lives.” You would think, this preacher said, that their vision would be to sell a lot of cards, but it is by their identifying and seeking a higher purpose -- one other than commercial success -- that people are drawn to Hallmark’s cards, and, it is the reason they, as a company, are successful. The sale of cards is a positive byproduct of their central endeavor.

As the Grassroots Plan says, our message to the grassroots, the vision of who we are as a party, I feel, should be something like this: Our purpose as a political party is to empower the grassroots to effectively participate in their democracy.

My thought is that, as Hallmark, people will be drawn to supporting the candidates of the Democratic Party if they can see that as a party we are seeking a higher purpose than simply winning elections. One proven way to empower is to educate and so, that is why, I believe that civic education should be a top priority of the party.

What I am trying to think through, as a starting point, is how a Democracy Club would function in a local junior or senior high school to promote authentic civic education -- education via opportunities for positive engagement and focused thinking, education via the inspiring of rational analysis, education via the motivating of inquiry. The idea would be to design such a Democracy Club so that it could become the power source for authentic dialogue within the entire school and, in fact, within the entire community that supports the school. Such a Club would need to be designed so as to command the compelling interest of a least a significant subset of the school community.

The idea is that if a nonpartisan entity, such as the League of Women Voters, would agree to advance the formation of such Democracy Clubs in local schools, then the Democratic Party would support the effort by to providing workers and resources to help make such Clubs successful.

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