Saturday, November 08, 2008

NDP Strategic Review, Step 1: No Support Left Behind

Before getting into my discussion of the strategic issues raised by Brian Topp and Les Campbell, let's add NDP Outsider's post as well as a Babble discussion to the mix.

With those sources in play as well, let's start with what looks to me to be the most important available opportunity.

Most of the sources talk at least somewhat about expanding the party's reach through something akin to the U.S. Democrats' 50-state strategy. But there seems to be some significant difference of opinion as to whether the party should immediately start paring down its sights to go after only the most readily available gains (see Topp's "without foolishly dissipating resources" proviso which assumes a net cost to reaching out, or NDP Outsider's targeting top-down communications to targeted groups), or whether the step should involve a willingness to establish an NDP infrastructure even where the prospect of an immediate payoff in seats may be remote.

From my standpoint, the clear preference has to be for the latter. And indeed, considering the NDP's need to expand beyond its traditional bases in order to form government, the decision seems more obvious for the NDP than for any other party: no stone should be left unturned and no area unorganized in an effort to build a structure which can facilitate party loyalty and support growth for many election cycles to come.

Now, that doesn't mean focusing solely on current dead zones either. Instead, it means starting from the same point as the Obama campaign - putting the initial emphasis on recruiting and training as many volunteers as can be brought into the fold from as wide an area as possible, and making sure that participants see themselves as both empowered to work creatively on the party's behalf, and accountable for getting results.

If the step works, then that volunteer structure should not only be able to spread the party's message to peers in ways far more persuasive than a robocall or a TV ad can possibly be, but also improve the party's capacity to bring dollars and votes into the fold when they're most needed. And that's what the NDP will need in order to accelerate its current progress.

Of course, there may well be a time for targeting, which would come in the lead up to another election campaign. But the greatest mistake the NDP could make would be to leave potential supporters and volunteers out of the fold by failing to look beyond the current electoral and demographic assumptions. And with the Cons focusing on governing and the Libs tied up in another leadership race, now is the best opportunity the NDP may have to build a grassroots network which can expand its current reach.

No comments:

Post a Comment