The Strategic Importance of Frequent District-Level Town Meetings

A key part of my campaign platform is that we will hold frequent district-wide town meetings. The scheduling and frequency of the meetings will be under our Community Development Corporation’s control, not the office of our Representative. The town meetings will be led by and provide a platform for anybody in the district (with minor caveats). The town meetings will also be an opportunity to experiment with alternative forms and formats of civic engagement.

Scheduling

The scheduling and frequency of the meetings must be under our Community Development Corporation’s control, not the office of our Representative.

It is nearly impossible for our district (or any gerrymandered district) to have a political life and will of its own, independent of its Representative’s office. Our district is not a natural phenomenon — it is a frankenstein’s monster of geographic blobs. Even people who have lived in this collection of blobs all their lives will have lived in and around the eastern blob, the western blob, and/or the narrow strip of land that connects them. Veterans of our local politics can have a clear sense of the political interests of Prince George’s county or Anne Arundel county, but its not intuitive or clear how two taped-together pieces of those counties could or should function on the national stage.

We can’t be effective in meeting our strategic objectives if we don’t know what those are, and nobody will have any idea what this particular group’s objectives are until we figure it out. We need to schedule our own meetings, not depend on the Representative.

Leadership

The town meetings will be led by and provide a platform for anybody in the district, within reason.

The structure of our district makes it inevitable that our district politics will be dictated by success in Prince George’s politics and/or the DC media market. Our Representative, Anthony Brown, was elected after serving as Lt Governor for 8 years. He succeeded state-wide before he succeeded in our district.

Our district has only one strategy available to it: pick the most talented young Democrat we can and re-elect them forever. We’re doing great. Mr Brown is fantastically talented; he has a long career ahead of him; and we are nearly certain to re-elect him.

Successfully following our only available strategy is not the same as following our best strategy. Our district does not make good use of its talent pool in Anne Arundel county. Our district is not able to deliberate on anything, much less come to nuanced positions. Our positions on issues are precisely equal to whatever Mr Brown thinks best for his rise in the Democratic Party (or best for the country if he has to choose).

This arrangement does not serve our district or our country well. The country could get more from the amazing talent of our random collection of approximately 750,000 Americans. We have one of the highest concentrations of US government employees and contractors in the country. We know more and can contribute more once we have some kind of voice.

We need a platform for any of us.

Caveat: we may need some training or certification in advance of leading district-level town meetings. The people who lead meetings should also then receive feedback on how they did. Other than that, let’s open it up.

Experimentation

The town meetings will also be an opportunity to experiment with alternative forms and formats of civic engagement.

We have one of the highest concentrations of US government employees and contractors in the country. If any district should be talking about how we can make our government better, we should be.

Unfortunately… we don’t know how to hold mass conversations.

With all of the interactive media options we have, there must be something better than our person-at-podium formats. With town meetings under our control rather than the Representative’s office, we won’t have the basic conservatism of every political office holding us back. Let’s try some new options on for size!

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