Saturday, April 01, 2017

The Three Inventories-- A Guest Post By The Woman Running Against Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy


-by Wendy Reed, MPA

Americans appear energized for civic engagement-- in community organizations, political activity, and government offices-- but in our passion and urgency for change we must take time to do research, to evaluate facts, and to make informed choices.

From the questions people ask me about my experience as a congressional candidate, I developed what I call the Three Inventories™. The Three Inventories include a Personal Inventory, a Skillset Inventory, and a Resources Inventory, and I will apply them in this article in three ways: considering civic engagement; choosing political parties and candidates; and becoming a candidate yourself.

This article is intended for anyone considering civic engagement, but it is especially intended to inspire those who choose to engage in the Democratic Party and fight for the progressive soul of our party. At our May Convention, the delegates of the California Democratic Party will vote for a new Chair and leadership team, a choice that is important to our continued success. The California Democratic Party continues to lead the nation in progressive policies and legislation, thanks to the long work of our progressive party leadership. I hope this article helps people understand the party better, and inspires people to take time for the research to make informed choices.

Inventories for Civic Engagement

People getting involved in the community for the first time should first conduct a Personal Inventory. Consider the level of involvement that feels comfortable to you, and what issues are important to you. Some people prefer making phone calls from home while others like to attend rallies. Participation in community organizations and outreach is very valuable, but it wouldn’t be a good fit for someone who doesn’t like attending meetings. Consider how your involvement might impact other work you do or relationships you have, or conflicts of interest it might pose. Everyone can do something, so the key is finding something that fits comfortably into your life.

Second, conduct a Skill-set Inventory. Consider what you are trained or experienced to do and how that might be applied to the issues you are interested in. Your skills might include taking notes, bookkeeping, public speaking, or baking cookies, and you may have knowledge in law, organizational management, or public relations. You may have expertise in a field where you can serve in an advisory capacity. Find and connect with organizations or government agencies that work on the issues you want to engage in, read their mission, bylaws, and platforms, and consider ways your skillset might help their needs.

Third, conduct a Resources Inventory, considering the resources it will require for you to participate. Consider your available time, your transportation, your health, and if there are costs or contributions involved in participating. Choose engagement that fits into your lifestyle, that you can actually commit to accomplish, and that you will enjoy. Many political groups have notification lists you can join to learn of rallies, guidance for contacting (lobbying) your public officials by phone or email, and community efforts that seek help from people like you.

Inventories for Choosing Political Parties and Candidates

Lobbying elected representatives and working with community organizations serving community needs are all incredibly important ways to engage. But at the end of the day, only by electing representatives will you gain the political power to promote policies and values of your choice. Party affiliation is one of the most important choices we make as adults and as citizens, and involvement in a party is the most powerful way to influence elections and government.

Our party allegiance starts in childhood as our parents’ choice, but as we mature it is important to conduct a Personal Inventory, to determine which values and policies we support, and which values and policies will affect us in ways that we prefer. The political parties have Platforms, outlining their positions on a variety of issues. In addition to reading the Party Platforms, we should read independent analyses of the historical, real-world outcomes of those policies. A policy may sound good on paper, but have an opposite outcome or an unintended outcome.

Once we understand the Platform and policy outcomes, we should conduct a Skillset Inventory of the Party, researching the success and integrity of the party’s work. Does the party have democratic processes in its own operation? Where does the party funding come from?

Most Americans seem to invest very little time in research, and we can see where this has gotten us! Democracy requires an informed electorate, and with the loss of the Fairness Doctrine and deregulation of media ownership, it is harder to be informed. But that does not justify voting the way your friend votes. We must do the research for ourselves. Which brings us to the Resources Inventory, because in the real world, a policy platform is not a party. Party infrastructure includes manpower, communication networks, tools for voter engagement, and financial resources for outreach and overhead.

Most people I meet don’t know that the structure of the Democratic Party is “small d democratic.” There are Democratic Clubs in communities all across America. There are County Central Committees in almost every county of America. The Central Committee Members are mainly elected in Presidential Election Year Primaries by the registered Democrats of each Assembly District, joined by members from community Clubs and candidates/electeds. These committees send delegates to the State Committees, and the State Committee Delegates elect Democratic National Committee (DNC) Members. The DNC is a reflection of our own involvement, and changes constantly. There are also additional national committees that focus on legislative issues, Congressional Candidates, and Senatorial Candidates. And there are Democratic incumbents. The level of infrastructure of the two major parties is unmatched.

And, as with any organization, the greatest resources of the Party are its people. All across America (and even abroad) Democrats of every shape and size attend meetings, pay dues, walk precincts, register voters, serve on boards and committees, and help campaigns.

At our upcoming California Democratic Party Convention, 40 percent of our ADEM Delegates are brand new, which is wonderful but also challenging. Not surprisingly, many new delegates are unfamiliar with party structures, party operations, election processes, bylaws, or even the Platform. Many are unfamiliar with our 2016 candidates or incumbents, and unfamiliar with the candidates for CDP Chair for whom they will vote. Without factual information and careful deliberation, we run the risk of discarding the progressive leaders who have made our California Democratic Party the most progressive in the nation.

Inventories for Becoming a Candidate

Lastly, people ask me what they should consider when deciding to run for public office.

In deciding to become a candidate for the US House of Representatives, I first conducted the Skill set Inventory-- what skill-set would I bring to job of Representative and the role of candidate. My Master’s in Public Administration, 30 years of community advocacy in my district, experience in government processes and legislative issues, and my love of engaging people in government, were an appropriate skillset for a Representative. My public speaking skills and understanding of our district’s issues made me a candidate people trusted and voted for. I read volumes, had mentors, and attended training to expand my campaign skillset.

Second, I conducted a Personal Inventory. I considered what I would give up by being a candidate, how I would face criticism or falsehoods published about me, and I discussed the impacts of a campaign with my family and found that I had my family’s support.

Third, I conducted a Resources Inventory for a campaign. I had time to devote to a campaign, good transportation, good health, and sufficient financial resources for the things that campaign contributions can’t fund. And I had the invaluable resource of being known by people across the district for my conservation work, so when I reached out to communities across our vast district I met people who already respected me.

It is said that “anyone can run for office” but, in reality, not everyone should. We need to elect qualified leaders who understand American history, economics, law, public administration, public policy, math, and basic science, with formal training in ethics and critical thinking. The need for qualifications and knowledge hold true for service in the party structure, as well as for voters, because these political processes are the path to elected office and legislative power.


About the Author: Wendy Reed holds a Master of Public Administration degree from CSUN and founded the Antelope Valley Conservancy in 2005, a community-managed corporation that provides habitat preservation and restoration for local, state, and federal agencies. With 30 years of community organizing experience, Reed became a grassroots Bernie organizer, and then the Democratic Nominee for California’s 23rd Congressional District, earning historic votes in her race against Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Reed is running again for 2018, so if you wish to help CA-23 oust the GOP Leader, please visit

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At 1:04 AM, Blogger Daro said...

There's one surefire way to fix Trump's popularity. Bring back Hillary!

At 7:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


If you wanna run as a democrap, here is your list:

Personal Inventory: am I corruptible? Can I lie?
Skillset Inventory: can I lie convincingly? am I a sociopath?
Resources Inventory: am I wealthy? Will I get DNC, DxCC and PAC bribes? Can I remember everyone to whom I will owe my advocacy?


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