What We Can Do at the Local Level
Sure, there are plenty of Republicans in the area, but the East Bay is one of the most blessedly progressive areas around. There are no shortage of super-activists and even lightly involved activists. And, of course candidates.
So ask me again to run for an office if I ever find myself in a more "purple" area, where I would make a difference.
So what can we, living in a solid blue area, do to help?
There are two ways that we can help. Density and Outreach.
Density is how we can take advantage of our solid-blue region and help deliver the Democratic vote and the progressive vision to the rest of California. For statewide races, a vote is a vote no matter where it comes from, and it's the densely blue areas like we have here that need to counteract the red areas inland. It's much more fruitful to get people registered around here than in, say, Bakersfield; if you help register voters, most of them will be voters that tend to go with the Democratic side of the ballot, even if they register as independent or another party like Green or Peace and Freedom. Talking to your neighbors about the candidates and issues is much more effective than talking to people with whom you have nothing in common. And helping to get out the vote, in the weeks and days up to election, is extremely effective here, because we have so many Blue voters to begin with.
Outreach is where you help influence races just outside the local area. Some activists travelled out of state for the 2004 election, an expensive activity which may have helped a small amount but certainly wasn't as effective as neighbor-to-neighbor outreach. We can more modestly help out with in-state races without such a time and financial expense, and by staying local, we aren't going to be viewed as carpetbaggers. Many Southern Californian activists have been helping with Francine Busby's race for Congress; many Northern Californians and especially Bay Area residents have been helping with Jerry McNerney's campaign to get rid of Pombo in the neighboring 11th Congresssional District. I am proud to be helping with McNerney's campaign; I've helped with the campaign's website, and I will be doing some phone banking tonight to help familiarize voters in the district with McNerney.
I want to encourage fellow Alamedans to try out both techniques to make the world a better place. Talk to your neighbors and help get them registered and to the polls. And also help out our neighboring districts that are not safely blue as we are.