Why should I care about local government?
Local government not only has a huge amount of direct impact on your life (from the physical design of our neighborhoods, to our tax bills, to our public safety priorities, to business development and infrastructure improvements), but we also have a huge amount of say. In New York, individual voters rarely have much impact on Presidential races, but we get involved because we care about our country. Local government races, however, frequently come down to tens of votes deciding the winner.
I have heard that politics in Rensselaer County, and particularly in Troy is dirty, and I should stay away from it. Why should I get involved?
First of all, politics isn’t all that dirty, but it does get personal, as it does in many relatively small political spheres. All too often, these personality conflicts trump the issues everyone got elected to work on. We are trying to introduce a new paradigm of distributed political power, so that no individual personalities can disrupt the effectiveness of our democracy, and the governments it creates. If people who care don’t get involved because they are afraid of dirty politics, then the people who get involved will be the ones who thrive on such politics. We want to see our democracy work as an expression of the creativity, interests, passions, history, ideas, and expertise in our region, and to do that, we need people to get involved. Politics is, at its root, a decision making system through which we, the people, govern. So please, in whatever way you feel able, join in.
How do we know you aren’t just going to use the party committee structure to consolidate power with your own friends?
This is a real concern. It takes a lot of work to keep people democratically involved, and in the past, the committee has often been unable to cast a wide enough net. Our primary goal, however, is not to impact the committee directly, but to get more people involved with it. We are very disappointed with the fact that there are very rarely elections to fill committee positions (and thus many committee people are basically appointed by the small group of people who have previously been involved, rather than the people of the districts they represent), so we are working to make sure this process is more open. The status quo of various political cliques fighting others for some kind of centralized control of our democratic system does strike us as very dangerous, and we wouldn’t be surprised if a more decentralized power structure in the committee resulted from our efforts to empower more people. If the people who are currently involved are interested in participating in such an experiment in engaged democracy, we are inclusive and would love to work with them. If, however, there are so-called democrats that try to shut people out, make it difficult for a collective democratic voice to be heard, or start holding loyalty hearings, we will do what we can to organize for a stronger, more inclusive party.
Do I have to be a registered Democrat to participate?
Sort of… every party has a structure that is similar to this one, and we would encourage you to get involved wherever you feel you fit best, however, if you like the ideas and strategies outlined on this website, and want to get involved with the Democratic Party directly, then yes, you have to be a registered Democrat.
Why did you make this website?
We made this website for several reasons: First, to encourage others to join us, second, to let voters in Rensselaer County know more about what we are doing and why, third to start to show what openness and effective use of technology can do for our political system, and finally, so that others can help hold us, and others in the party to these standards of openness and inclusion.