Continuing the conversation: how do we fix what's broken in the Democratic Party?

Ben DuPree FacebookTwitter

I want to carry on the conversation we started here on Friday, and assuredly that most of you started the morning after the election: how do we fix what's broken in the Democratic Party?

People are counting on us to be the thoughtful, vocal, effective opposition to President-elect Trump and the Republican Party's far-right agenda that threatens to kick millions off of health care, gut environmental protections, and reward the ultra-wealthy with obscene and unnecessary tax cuts.

This needs to be a community conversation. No individual will have all the answers. But, in the spirit of taking action right now, there's an article I want you to read.

Theda Skocpol, a Harvard professor, has penned a sharp look at some problems within the Democratic Party. Here's the link to her piece, "A guide to rebuilding the Democratic Party, from the ground up" on VOX. Read it.

Professor Skocpol is highly critical of highly critical of existing party organizations, which she feels have become mostly fundraising machines that aren't doing effective or far-enough-reaching organizing work:

During the Obama years, the Democratic National Committee and the party’s Senate, House, and gubernatorial campaign committees have done little more than fundraise for election years, and Obama’s Organizing for America operated mainly as a personal reelection machine. Sadly, President Obama also delayed replacing Debbie Wasserman Schultz, his ineffective part-time head of the DNC, until way too late. In recent years, Democratic Party committees have remained robust fundraisers, but they have atrophied as organizational presences in many states and localities.

She mostly wants to move past this, however, and find a model that works for the future. Her suggestion? Invest and empower local parties and people:

Effective political organization in America is always centered in and across the states — and that middle level of organization is what Democrats must reinforce. They must embrace a year-round, face-to-face organizational style. Devising poll-tested messages and delivering them through television and radio ads and social media is no longer enough, if it ever was. Only people on the ground can network and engage in respectful two-way conversations.

A new DNC head must put big resources into state parties and prod them to give year-round support to local supporters who can inject themselves into ongoing conversations everywhere, not just on MSNBC or in big cities. Furthermore, the new DNC head will have to find ways to replicate most innovative and effective state party strategies — like those devised in New Hampshire and Nevada, swing states that performed well for the Democrats. Old formulas for reinforcing time servers in state parties will not work.

As she points out, this work's already begun, but it obviously needs to continue and ramp up.

There's a lot more in there, from thoughts on the position of unions, to a few specific techniques to oppose Trump's agenda, to what some of our short-term goals should be.

Here's your homework: read the article today and consider its suggestions and conclusions.

How are we doing in Oregon on these points? What could we be doing better? Let's continue this conversation.

connect with blueoregon