Tuesday, June 28, 2011


A few weeks ago I participated in my first special interest candidate endorsement deliberation. Because I am not active in partisan politics, not a union member nor even a resident of an area with a neighborhood association, I get involved in issue focused grassroots work. The issue bringing us all together for almost four hours one rainy Saturday morning was keeping our local government neighborhood-friendly in its policies and priorities.

It was an agonizing process and invigorating, too. 18 people from neighborhoods all over Nashville discussed the answers submitted on candidates' surveys, how they had voted, how they'd expressed an intent to vote. Experienced advocates made presentable arguments for swaying standards, upholding them and just showing some love. On several occasions, civility trumped emotional votes. At least once someone pulled rank and had a temper tantrum.

When I ran for Metro Council, on the advice of my campaign manager I did not seek traditional endorsements from political parties, city municipal and service workers, educators, business or trades associations. I sought only the endorsement of a noted womens group. This strategy helped me win my race and modestly fund it. It kept me out of big board interviews, special interest questionnaires and the relationships they help shape at the front end of a term of office. It kept me authentic & independent. Lucky for me, my grandfather was a Metro policeman, my dad an East High grad, my mom went to West, and their friends and many lobbyists people helped me catch up soon after I was elected.

I confess I do not consider endorsements I see published in the paper as I form my voting decisions. If I were a member of an associated group, I probably would. For me the value of the endorsement process is the time people give, filling out and reviewing surveys, building consensus for a group recommendation, sending emails & snail mail to assure all members are involved with a vote. It is the work that builds a nation. Wherever caucuses, co-ops, and homeowner's associations deliberate policy and regulations, they build platforms for candidates to stand on and activists to support.

Grassroots activity is democratic and creative. It is the foundation of good government and a healthy society. Do you enjoy grassroots activity? Of what type? .

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little more skeptical about endorsements.

    I do think that endorsements can be valuable though.

    * Endorsements that also come with other support are great. A union endorses you and gives you a nice check. An elected official supports you and provides you with logistical or volunteer supporter.

    * Unexpected endorsements are valuable. Everyone expects the Democratic nominee to get the support of the Democratic party but what if a prominent individual Republican supported the candidate?