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                                       politics + culture

Sunday, May 01, 2005

a politics of sets: basics

Let's say you could break, for simplicity's sake, all Democrats into three subsets: Urban Democrats, Suburban Democrats, and Rural Democrats. You could then represent each group like this:

Urban Democrats = UDs
Suburban Democrats = SDs
Rural Democrats = RDs

Now, in a given election, or on a given issue, Democrats as a whole would look to unify all of these voters in one set of voters. That set might look like this:

(UDs + SDs+ RDs)

That seems obvious enough. Now, what any Democrat who seeks to speak to this broad coalition is trying to do is create an overarching rationale to bring the disparate groups of our coalition together, is to build a message. In terms of sets, that message might look like this:

(UDs + SDs+ RDs)

Message, however, is not really coalition building. It's simply something papered over the top of our coalition by candidates. Coalition building, Democratic Unity is about the ties that bind the members of our coalition together, and how well we've built those ties. It's about each group feeling at home inside the brackets of our coalition. Whether our unity is driven by necessity, proximity, impending legislation, or ideology, for purposes of representing it in this schema, it looks like this:

(UDs+SDs+RDs)



Our goal, out of necessity and choice, should be to enhance the participation of our coalition members, not simply by working on our overall message but by doing the hard, "in the trenches" work of building party unity. In effect, we're seeking to build an equation that looks like this:

(UDs+SDs+RDs) = an electoral majority

It's not that simple, of course, and in further essays, I'll expand on this schema and get into how we can use it to talk about Democratic coalition building in State and National races.

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