Every two years the Democratic Party conducts a meeting to reorganize its precincts. On Feb. 20, every precinct in South Carolina will meet to elect precinct officers, discuss the party’s platform, share ideas, hear from candidates, enjoy fellowship, and, more importantly, gear up for a long election year.

In 2008, Charleston County went blue because of the organization of the Obama campaign and the excitement shared by many. In 2010, Charleston stands to remain blue, and Democrats have a great chance at winning statewide and congressional races. In order for this to happen, volunteers are needed, ideas must be shared, and money must be raised. All of this begins at the local level.

Anyone who ever wanted to get involved in party politics, volunteer on a campaign, or just learn about the Democratic process should join in the fun and excitement on Feb. 20. At these meetings, you find out who the party activists are, when events are scheduled, and how one can play a vital role in this process. At these meetings, you may even be surprised to see who attends.

Precinct reorganization provides the basis for people to engage in party politics as we prepare for the county and state party conventions. Without organized precincts, the county and state Democratic Party could not function. Here is where community organizing begins.

There is strength in numbers: If all 184 precincts in Charleston County organize with five workers, that would give us 920 boots on the ground election day. If each of those individuals commit to making 10 calls a week or 25 calls a month to like-minded people, thousands of calls can be made to encourage people to vote early, attend an event, donate an item, make a contribution, or volunteer.

More people will pay closer attention to the real issues at hand rather than on rhetoric. People will begin to set the agenda rather than being told the agenda. With these efforts, I fundamentally believe that more problems will be solved and more progressive and proactive measures will take place. In order to insert these activities, people that demand more must actively be engaged. Charleston has crippled itself, to some degree, by leaving too many people out of the political process, a process that benefits many rather than a few.

If churches, businesses, and other civic organizations will encourage and mobilize their folks to participate on Feb. 20 and get involved with the county Democratic Party, Democrats will be in a keen position to exercise its political and economic power. We can address issues year-round that plague our community, we can hold elected officials accountable to a greater degree, and people can feel their voices are being heard and that they matter.

When communities are organized and engaged in civic participation, people are empowered to do and think for themselves and they are better able to help others. At the precinct level, everyone is provided opportunities to provide first-hand knowledge and assistance to those that simply want to improve the areas where they live, play, work, study, and worship.

Even if you do not agree 100 percent or 80 percent with the party platform, don’t let that stop you. Come with an open mind, come ready to get connected, and come prepared to keep Charleston blue and turn the state to its original color. At the local level is where it all begins.

If you want your voice heard, if you want to work for a better future, show up at a precinct reorganization meeting and get involved in your community. See you there.

Go to charlestondemocrats.net for the location of your precinct meeting.

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