Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mark Stricherz is the author of Why the Democrats are Blue: Secular Liberalism and the Decline of the People's Party (Encounter Books). His stories have appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, Commonweal, and Crisis. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and daughter.

He gave a very interesting talk this week at the John Paul II center here in Denver. My problem with it was not his definition of the problem, how seculars are taking over the political process, but with one of his proposed solutions, getting rid of our wonderful neighborhood precinct caucus system.

Here are the comments I just posted on his blog (blog address above):

I was able to attend your appearance here in Denver, thanks for the very thought provoking talk.

It was disturbing to hear you encourage the demise of what is seems is the last place in America that the voice of the common person has an impact, the precinct caucus.

Outsiders still have a chance of getting elected with the caucus system, Mike Miles is an example here in Colorado. He almost won, and his grassroots organizing resulted in the election of our current State Chair, much to the dismay of Chris Gates and the Democratic establishment.

And look at Barck Obama: There is absolutely no way to call him the insider in the primary and to keep a smile off your face.

You say the primary is fairer because more people can vote. If people can’t arrange their schedule to get the day off, do they really want to participate? And in our representative system, we take turns serving. There is no need for everyone to participate; there is just the need that the system be open and available to everyone. Our founders had a deep fear of the sort of direct democracy you seem to envision.

Francis Schaeffer warned that making moral issues like abortion subject to a popular vote of the people in the post-modern pegan society that we’ve become would be a fast track to disaster. The caucus has been an effective tool for pro-life Republicans, there is no reason it can’t work just as well for pro-life Democrats if we develop the political will between now an 2010.

We get a much higher level of accountablity from our representative with the caucus system. When we were distributing literature at one of the state conventions here in Colorado in 2002 as part of our fight against Amendment 29 which would have killed our Colorado Caucus, a man who had moved here from California read the flier and then said to me:

“Yes, I’ll support what you are doing to save the caucus. You people here in Colorado don’t realize what a great system you have. I moved here from California, and out there candidates just hire people to circulate petitions and then run advertisements. Candidates don’t have to talk with the voters. With the caucus, they have to talk with us and we know who is representing us.”

We get better candidates with the caucus system. Most start with participation in their neighborhood caucus, and they learn to use the system to stay in touch with voters after they are elected.

For Catholics, there’s another big reason to support the neighborhood caucus system vs. the impersonal primary exercise: How can we love our neighbor if we don’t know our neighbor’s names? With the decline of what Robert Putman calls “social capital” we need to preserve things like the neighborhood caucus that force us out of our cocoons.

I hope you’ll rethink your position the wonderful neighborhood caucus system, one of Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive reforms and what I think is the full flowering of what our founders intended. We need to encourage more states to adopt it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I usually don't like these business startup checklists, but this one seems to be particularly helpful, at least to me as I'm thinking about how I'm using the Internet to build my business. What do you think of it?

Top 10 Suggestions for Online Business Startup Success:

1. Take a clean-sheet approach to an idea, and try and come up with a truly original or unique idea, or a spin on an existing idea that will be instantly appealing to people.

2. Sketch out your idea to its fullest, without looking at any possible competition. If you want to lead, you have to assume the horizon is endless and everyone is behind you, not in front of you.

3. Turn your idea into something of substance with a demonstration of it that actually works as soon as possible. Long before a business mode or business plan, a working demonstration shows you (and others potentially interested in your idea) what’s possible.

For the other 7 suggestions, click here.

I gave a talk yesterday at the Pikes Peak chapter of the Business and Professional Women and was asked what I thought of the current Wall Street crisis and proposed solution. I said, what solution? When is one of the Presidential candidates going to speak out against it? David Harsanyi says it better this morning:

Politicians flail in face of financial crisis
By David Harsanyi, Denver Post click here for entire article.

Politicians expend a considerable amount of energy trying to prove they are just like you or me. Well, it turns out, they aren't lying. Just like you and me, they have absolutely no clue what's going on.

And watching these people endeavor to "rescue" us from financial apocalypse only crystallizes, once again, that Washington is the preferred destination of the ethically disabled...

I posted this comment on the above article:

Fellow citizens!

Whether you are reigistered as a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, other party, or Unaffiliated, I hope you will join us for one or more of these meetings in the next few days! Sometimes being in a face-to-face discussion leads to new insights that just aren't possible online or in exchanges of the written word.

I'm going to bring the current financial crisis up as a topic at these free, open group meetings this week. I hope you can join us:

Denver Socrates Cafe, Thursday (Sept 24), 7 p.m., Trinity Church, 19th & Broadway. More info and RSVP

Denver IDEA Cafe, Friday (Sept 25), 2 p.m., Panera Bread, 13th & Grant. More info and RSVP at

Denver Speakers Corner, Sunday (Sept 27), 4 p.m., Civic Center, North Pavilion on Colfax across the street from the Denver Newspaper Agency. More info and optional RSVP at

The elite don't seem to be doing so well with this crisis, let's see what the grassroots here in Denver can come up with!

I'll post a summary of what's discussed on my blog next Monday morning, where you'll also be able to post your further comments.

You can help by attending yourself, and also by copying and pasting this message into an email you forward along to your friends who might like to join us in this imporant effort.


I hope you'll join us for one of these meetings and that you'll help us spread the word about the meetings. Then check back here to see my summary of the discussions, and to post your comments on the problem.

I'll be forwarding the result of our work to the White House and both leading Presidential candidates.