Monday, September 19, 2011

What I Learned in Tonopah

It wasn't an easy ride to Tonopah on Saturday, especially not since NDOT had construction delays near Goldfield. So many of us from Vegas were already in a crabby mood when the NSDP Central Committee meeting got started. And many of the folks from Reno and the rurals were still in a crabby mood because of the NV-02 aftermath. Early on, I had a feeling that Central Committee meeting wouldn't be an easy ride.

Fortunately, I wasn't the only one who was trying to take last week's special elections into proper perspective. Fortunately, folks were on hand to rehash last year's NV-Sen results to point out that Nevada is still very much a Blue State, and that Nevada will certainly be one of "The Western Firewall" states that will be essential to President Obama's reelection next year.

Don't believe me? Believe Public Policy Polling's (or PPP's) August results here in Nevada and in Colorado, and remember that these polls were done at about Obama's most recent nadir in national approval. Obama was beating all the Republican candidates here and in Colorado, and for the most part by healthy blowout margins, even while his national numbers were slumping. And consider that PPP's latest national poll showed Obama bouncing back to stronger leads against Perry and Romney, and that other recent polls have shown the same trend. With even Jon Ralston throwing cold water on the Nevada GOP's flaming hot and crazy claims of building some sort of "Great Red Tide" next year (like the one from last year that never materialized?), why should we feel obligated to make things easier for them by setting our hair on fire and acting defeatist?

@UNRYoungDems chief Michael Cabrera recognized for Young Dem ... on Twitpic

@nvdems #Caucus2012 organizer Leora Olivas explains next step... on Twitpic

@nvdems Chair Roberta Lange explains what party has been up t... on Twitpic

This is what I was thinking about on Saturday while I was hearing some Central Committee members falling into this very trap of panicking, setting their hair on fire, and acting defeatist. And coming from places like Tonopah, Fallon, and Ely, I can understand why those members feel the way they do. However, they're not getting the whole picture. Rural turnout has strongly benefitted Republicans for the last several cycles, so what happens in Tonopah is far from accurately indicative of what happens statewide.

Does this mean Democrats should just give up on the rurals? Most certainly, not! In fact, NSDP Chair Roberta Lange spoke plenty on Saturday about the party's commitment to organizing statewide. And lead Caucus 2012 organizer Leora Olivas explained what's happening throughout the state to prepare for caucus time. A vote from Fallon counts as much as a vote from North Las Vegas, so it's critical to extract as many votes as possible from both locales. But by the same token, we'd be foolish to mourn the "reddening" of Nevada just because of one low turnout special election dominated by conservative interests and mostly excluding Nevada's Democratic base.

Later in the meeting, Young Democrats of Nevada President Michael Cabrera was honored for YDNV's work in strengthening young progressives' voices throughout the state, from the robust growth of UNR Young Dems to the recent progress made in Clark County. This is what we need to see more of... This, and all the canvassing, voter registration, and other voter outreach efforts OFA is doing, and all the other work that local activists and Dem clubs are doing all over Nevada. If we commit to doing more of this and less of the usual whining, Democrats will win up and down the ballot next year.

Fmr Washoe Chair Chip Evans speaks in favor of regular Tonopa... on Twitpic

As usual, #nvscc now breaking down over regional pie fights. ... on Twitpic

Some of the folks in the room seemed to get this, but then one more food fight emerged over whether or not to regularly do Central Committee in Tonopah. Some liked the idea of "shared sacrifice" for all, but others felt it would unfairly punish the vast majority of Democratic Central Committee members in Clark County. Again, I understand that we shouldn't ignore any part of the state. All of Nevada matters. However, I think there are better ways to reach out to Nevada voters and include folks from across the state than always holding meetings in a sparsely populated corner of the state.

So often, we on the left end of the spectrum get too busy infighting to realize we have much fiercer opponents our little "Lefty World" construct. We can't keep making that same mistake. We have far too much work to do and not enough time to waste on infighting. I just hope I wasn't the only one who got that message before leaving the Tonopah Ramada Inn.

Well, at least I had a lovely scenic drive home to calm me down after that last difficult week.

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