Blue Tiger Dems have it right. More right than anyone else:

Democratic organizations, particularly in urban areas, have a rich history of Civic Engagement. Unfortunately, a great deal of this history has been forgotten by the Party and it has shed its Civic Engagement mission.

Democrats must go back to the future. Consider getting involved, helping your community and contributing to civic engagement projects.

With $1.6 billion spent on political ads during the 2004 presidential election and very little money devoted to support civic engagement projects to aid individuals in their communities, it is no wonder that we have begun to lose our connection with individuals at the local level.

I’m a bit peeved that I learned about Blue Tiger Democrats from Joho the Blog, not from the tens of Democrat/Liberal blogs I read, but in a way it makes sense. What Blue Tigers are talking about is more interesting to someone who writes about social technology than folks who write about elections.

About a year ago, I started reading Bowling Alone (here and here), and struck on something that hit me again when I read Involve’s book on “Post Party Politics” (in the UK) (my reaction here). Political Parties in the United States are not about communities or getting people involved in their own government, they’re about winning elections.

The more the party itself strays away from not just local organizing, but local involvement, the worse of we are, and not just as a party, but politically in general. One quote from their (I guess you would call it a) manifesto points out a reflection from a middle 19th century Democratic ward healer that the party was a social benevolent society for 364 days of the year and a political organization one day of the year. They point out that as late as the 1930s, local Dem clubs made it a point to do good works in their communities, making such activities a focus, rather than campaigning.

The social and community benefit roles of local party organizations have suffered because we focus too much on how to win elections.

It is interesting to note that Blue Tigers and the 50 State Strategy are on the same track, that we need to focus on local organizations and not simply buy ad time. It seems though that the Blue Tigers are taking the same logic going a bit more extreme, which is fine with me. It isn’t just an electoral strategy or a 50 State Strategy, but a Tens of Thousands of Communities Strategy. All of which will of course benefit the electoral strategy.

Another topic that I hope they expand on is the “Place to Go” topic. The more we can expand so called “Third Places” — not the first place of home or the second place of work — the better. Democratic Clubs used to be open places for anyone in the community to come, socialize and maybe get some help. Local Democratic Clubs should retake that mission, maybe not opening local open door Democratic Clubs, but working to expand third places in our communities.

Blue Tiger Democrats, they have some good ideas. Here are some other posts on them:
Yay, Democrats!
Michigan Liberal: Blue Tiger Democrats