At a Luncheon Society ™ event several years ago, Michael Dukakis talked about walking precincts. He could not understand those who favored high cost television ads or mailings over the elbow grease of building a grassroots operation. He believed that the best way to know the voters was to knock on their doors and ask for their support.
Dukakis insisted that a good grassroots organization could deliver an extra 5% turnout, which could be the difference between a win and a loss. Massachusetts, Dukakis noted, had 2,300 voter precincts and each precinct could have 5 block captains. If you built a volunteer army of 10,000 people, Dukakis noted, you became unbeatable. Those who solely relied on media campaigns and direct mail pieces often discovered their support was often a mile wide and an inch deep.
However, one person took issue. He said that California was too big, too much a “media state” and walking precincts was on the wane because there were too many high tech approaches to drive voter contact. Los Angeles was not like Boston or New York, the person continued. LA was 88 communities held together by miles of double-ribbon freeway and at the end of the day, walking all of those neighborhoods was just too hard.
“That’s not hard. I used to walk precincts when The Boston Strangler was on the loose,” Dukakis replied. “Now that’s hard.”
The Luncheon Society Regular. Mike Dukakis has joined The Luncheon Society on a regular basis since 1999. In January, he led a discussion in Los Angeles for his 13th appearance and a month later in San Francisco for his 14th visit. In 2010, we hope to get him into Manhattan to visit the third pod of The Luncheon Society.
Over the years, The Luncheon Society has quietly convened hundreds times for movable feasts at over 40 restaurants like Palio D’Asti, which is hidden away on California Street in San Francisco or Chez Mimi, which caters to the entertainment industry in Santa Monica. The kindness of a gracious friend allowed us to use The Lotos Club, one of the oldest literary clubs in the United States, frequented by the likes of Mark Twain and today residing in a Manhattan mansion once owned by the Vanderbilt family. Continue reading