Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lyle Lindesmith taught me to love the Colorado Caucus.

In 1976, as a recently elected precinct committee person going door to door looking for a block captain on one of the few blocks in my precinct that didn't have one already, I met Lyle Lindesmith.

I was talking with everyone who was on my list of party members. I'd knock on the door, introduce myself, and ask for help.

Until the moment I met Lyle, my political mentor had been Karl Rove. Karl was National Chairman of College Republicans, I'd been elected Colorado Chairman. Karl taught me how to organize a college campus, my neighbor and new friend Lyle taught me how to apply what I'd learned to the neighborhood.

For years Lyle had led a 4-session class call "Action Class in Practical Politics." Each week he'd invite speakers from both major political parties, and students were give homework assignments of checking out their local neighborhood and county, reporting back to the class what had been discovered.

He'd been Executive Director of the GOP, and with Jeane Toole they developed John Love from an obscure El Paso County Republican into Governor. Lyle went with Love to Washington when he was appointed Energy Czar.

Lyle asked me to help with what I think was the last session of the Action Class he ever led, it was at the old Petroleum Club and community activist Jeanne Faatz http://www.jeannefaatz.org/ was in the class, just starting to think about running for elective office. She was soon elected to the state legislature, and now serves on the Denver City Council.

From time to time I stopped by and visited with Lyle at his business, Englewood Press on South Broadway, and he steeped me in his long-time political wisdom, advice that would have served me well if I'd paid more attention to it. Here's what I remember now:

*Make a decision whether you want to be a candidate for elected office, or if you'd rather be of service through party work. Lyle had learned from personal experience the two don't mix, that's been my experience, too.

*Party leaders, from precinct committee person to state chair do their job best when they stay neutral in candidate races. Let all the candidates bring new people into the party rather than compete for the party faithful.

*There are several ways to get involved: 1) Through the party structure; 2) Through auxiliary organizations; 3) Through candidate organizations. Lyle had Action Class members contact their local leaders in all three areas, look for opportunities to fill voids in their neighborhood.

You who are reading this now could become State Chair of one of the major political parties or Governor of Colorado if you'd take Lyle's sage advice to heart right now. What's the best next step for newcomers? I'll talk about that more tomorrow.

I didn't know Lyle very long, but he had a big effect on my thinking and he helped to launch many active citizens in both major parties. He passed away December 26, 1978 and I attended his funeral. There was never any recognition of his passing by the county or state party. Do you think it's too late now?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Missed posting here as I'd intended last week, finding it hard to write anything today.

But if I don't try this it will always be something I regret.

So here goes.

We’ve got another neighborhood caucus coming up soon, but you wouldn’t know it from looking in the newspapers or even the Secretary of State's website.

Classes are being held for true-believers of the left and right about how to manipulate the system to achieve their predetermined ends. But I can see no one trying to help the common person who is new to Colorado or just new to Colorado politics learn how to participate in our, potentially, wonderful neighborhood grassroots system.

It seems to me that from Dick Wadhams and Pat Waak, the respective heads of the Colorado GOP and Democrats, through Cindy Lowrey and Ryan Call, Dem and GOP leaders in Denver, to pretty much everyone I’ve met in either party, we’re well stocked with very good people. I don’t agree with everything any of them do, no one is perfect. But they are good people who care about the system.

Our caucus system is like playing touch football. If you are a red or a green you work hard to try and win for your team. You might even talk about your team being better. But at the end of the day, you are crazy if you think your team is much different.

Negative talk radio and negative campaigning has created real hatred between the two parties, and that's a big part of the cause of the problem. But they are both just tools for selecting good representatives. There is not that much difference between the two parties, and there really shouldn't be.

There needs to be more cooperation in helping the average citizen learn the ropes, but this animosity stands in the way of that happening right now.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the Colorado hero who first taught me how the caucus system is supposed to work. Will you join me? If you have a question about the Colorado Caucus you'd like me to answer here, post it as a comment or send me an email at John@JohnWren.com

I look forward to our conversation.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Now what?

After getting front page treatment in the last two issues of the Colorado Statesman...

http://www.coloradostatesman.com/content/991462-wren-disturbs-new-dem-nest

http://www.coloradostatesman.com/content/991482-wren-leaves-dem-nest-becomes-unaffiliated

I'm trying to decide the best way to have a positive impact on the grassroots here in Colorado. Whatever media release I send out on Monday should get picked up, at least by the Statesman. One reason: The last week in December is almost always a period of slow news.

So I've spend this morning in deep thought and contemplation. How can I best use this rare opportunity to do something that will be of the most benefit to the most people.

Some of my third-party and no-party friends have congratulated me on my decision, thinking that my becoming unaffiliated means I've lost confidence in our wonderful neighborhood caucus-assembly system here in Colorado for nominating to the primary ballot. Not so.

Just as good party leadership should no become leaders in a particular candidates campaign, it has become clear to me that there needs to be a few of us who believe the the caucus that keep ourselves apart from leadership roles in any party.

My intention is to use this weekend to get this website ready, then announce it in a media release on Monday. The objective: Maximize informed participation in the 2010 Colorado Caucus. Will you help? 

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