Get In the Game: Community Organizing and Civic Participation

By Guest Columnist Apr 10, 2008

By Miami Workers Center Internal disputes within the Democratic party may render Florida’s primary meaningless. While political pundits guess the implications of an empty contest in the sunshine state, Floridians went to the polls at record numbers to cast their votes for candidates and initiatives. Florida voters approved a tax cut for homeowners and in Miami-Dade County, we voted for slot machines at racetracks for revenue generation. Statewide, Florida had 29% voter turn out compared to 12% in 2000. Electoral participation more than doubled at a time when Democratic presidential candidates deliberately chose not to campaign in the state. Miami Workers Center (MWC), in a concerted effort with our grassroots projects, Miami en Accion (MIA) and Low-Income Families Fighting Together (LIFFT), ran a voter mobilization program: Take Back the Vote. We studied voting patterns in our communities, mapped precincts, identified occasional voters, and walked precincts encouraging voters to participate and use their power. We monitored the closing of polls and watched the results on television, late into the night. Civic participation needs to become a strong Left strategy for winning power. We have to use the few civic spaces available to us to leverage victories, galvanize values, create space, and demonstrate that the power of government is not just for corporations and developers to do whatever they wish. To accomplish this we will need to radically retool our organizations and strategies to be able to capture the scale and impact of our work in ways that are much more dramatic and far reaching than we do now. To read the full text. To download the pdf.