Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia and President-elect Obama’s choice to be Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, released a YouTube video on Friday of him answering questions sent in from all over the country. I thought I’d share the video, and then take a bit to point out a few interesting answers.

Kaine gives young voters some recognition at about 6:35 in. While he’s quick to include “first-time voters” in his answer, Kaine explains that the Democratic outreach efforts have been especially successful over the last couple years, due to Howard Dean and Obama. Dean’s 50 State Strategy led Democrats into deserted territory, reintroducing the party to some Americans who got used to seeing the GOP as the only option. Kaine noted that Obama’s campaign built on this by raising efficacy among potential voters — each voter’s donation or time spent volunteering mattered, and he used whatever tool he could to send that message. With that in mind, Kaine explains that he wants to bring Obama’s message of engagement to voters, but with governance in mind.

Hopefully this means that Kaine will be incorporating even more technology into the day-to-day operations of the Democratic Party, in order to attract more and more young voters. I’m a bit concerned that Kaine was so quick to lump young voters in with “first-time voters.” I’d like to hear more of Kaine’s plan to mobilize young Americans.

About 19:34 in, Kaine answers a question asking for simple things the questioner can do to help. Kaine notes that the first thing they can do is “pitch in and help your neighbor,” which made me think of Democrats Work’s suggestion for the DNC to reorganize around the idea of service to others. Kaine’s answer revolves around “communal responsibility,” as the governor points out that many non-profit organizations are experiencing difficulty getting donations in these hard times.

If Kaine means what he says, infusing the party with a service-focused theme would be a great move. With the current state of the economy, the exhaustive list of volunteers the Obama campaign was able to collect this summer and fall, and the coming-of-age of service-loving Millennials, Kaine is in a position to establish and strengthen bonds with both newer, older, and younger voters. The political benefits would be outstanding, but more importantly, the Democratic Party would be tangibly giving something to Americans, not just asking for money or time on its own behalf.

Kaine speaks more about the 50 State Strategy at 23:00, saying that he will continue the strategy, while conceding that it may not look the same, as he and the DNC try to improve on Dean’s efforts.

Finally, Kaine answers a young questioner asking how to “get started” in politics. Kaine repeatedly notes that everything starts with “a desire to serve others,” explaining that that’s what made him leave his job as a civil rights lawyer to pursue politics — more people to serve.

I applaud Kaine’s use of YouTube in answering these questions, and I hope it continues. I hope that Kaine will put much of what he says in this video into action, and that the Democratic Party will continue and broaden their efforts toward engaging every American.

Any thoughts/comments?

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