WATCH THE "FWD VLOG":
I’m sure there will be lots of great recommendations and mysteries discovered but the most important fact is right under our nose: the Democratic Party in many ways isn’t really a party at all. And for a party of the “people” it is kind of critical.
The problem is easy to spot when you consider this week’s DNC Winter Meeting where we can see that no adjustments have been made yet.
First off, the only schedule i have seen is a PDF for God’ sake! I would suggest adding more trainings and panels to the program to get people thinking but let’s start small.
If it wasn’t for Virginia DNC Committeeman Frank Leone’s twitter feed I wouldn’t have even known about it....so congrats to him for doing his job but I don't think he has ever been retweeted by a party committee yet so he's a voice in the wilderness.
After asking around I found out there was a web page where you could sign up for free…..on a Association of State Democratic Chairs web site I have never heard of. Maybe because it is obviously only designed for State Democratic Chairs....that's why my friend had to find it via google search.
But you would think the DNC would be trumpeting this exciting event and the speaker program somewhere, right? Wrong!
Here's what I came up with....in the meantime let the DNC know what you think on twitter and facebook because you need to let them know why #itsmypartytoo and what is #mydemautopsy. You can copy your feedback in the comments below so we can share our ideas in the process....I will include some feedback I collected recently as well.
There is no “Contact Us” page so we will skip email and phone today.
In the meantime….nothing on twitter yet.
OK but what about those emails….at least one of those must have mentioned the meeting right?
Sort of….I got one email that invites me to donate money so i can “win” a chance to attend the meeting AND meet President Obama!
On the DNC web site is a blog post about the contest and where I can see that the DNC Chair wants ME there….maybe if i click on that link i can sign up?
Actually, no. She wants you to be entered in a contest to meet the President...not actually show up to get involved or anything! I know many folks would only attend if they won a contest but thousands of Democrats live within a day’s drive of Washington, DC and if the DNC is able to set up out-of-state volunteer drives during election season then why not even tell people about a quarterly meeting?
Of course, outside organizations always have an advantage but a potential juggernaut like the President’s Organizing For Action barely has any events that get beyond house party status....if at all these days.
This is the 2015 Democratic “organizing advantage” at work. We have great data for banner ads and door knocks that the average voter will probably notice for a split second but don’t use much of it to segment and actually REACH supporters who follow our emails, social media or even visit our web sites.
In the end, despite some mild gains from superficial forms of content and outreach, not many new activists get involved and not many new voters are inspired by our grassroots army to join our movement OR at minimum pull the lever to vote Democratic in November.
The funny thing is, when you go to the About US page of the DNC web site, there is a section on the 50-State Strategy of funding party committees nationwide so they can better compete. The highlights end after 2008 because for some reason unifying our party with a nationwide network of activists was no longer a priority.
The best example I found in November was how the Warner for Senate campaign held a Get-Out-The-Vote Rally on Election Eve and it got barely more publicity than the DNC Meeting….no twitter, no facebook, no web site. No events or campaign offices were ever mentioned on those platforms. It mattered too…a near surprise upset.
This culture needs to change from the TOP DOWN not just rely on the BOTTOM UP. Party leaders talk a good game about “grassroots” organizing but successful people-focused activism is supported by strong leadership not just left to hang out to dry.
Democratic Party of Virginia’s Vice Chair of Technology Dave Leichtman recently posted a blog about the need for a 50-State Strategy for Digital Organizers and I would suggest incorporating such a program into re-invigorating the original vision.
The Democratic Party needs to focus on three key things right now as part of 50-State Strategy 2.0:
- Innovation to build more Relationships
I recently saw the film “The Imitation Game” and the story of Alan Turing is inspiring and tragic because he was an innovator who helped a society triumph even though society worked against him personally and professionally.
We have thousands of Democratic Party activists whose talents are being lost in the current system. Sometimes this happens because they are not trained to create relationships and innovation but sometimes it's as simple as they are not rich enough to work without a living wage or in conditions that the party supposedly finds an affront to our values when implemented in the private sector.
Until party and campaign organizations are truly partnering with their supporters to adequately invest in creating the 21st Century solutions necessary to build the kind of relationships that enable trust and influence in the electorate, no one is going to care enough to fight back anymore…..and that means no one is going to donate, volunteer or vote either.
It’s often called Movement-building...organizing groups of like-minded people around a singular cause.
That is why we chant “Yes We Can!” not “Yes I Can!”
Even though I have encouraged people to organize themselves, the fact is if they are not part of a smart coordinated team effort than all that work eventually dies and can become worthless….look at Occupy Wall Street.
And if you look at leaders of great movements, I don’t recall MLK using the “March on Washington” as a vehicle for big fundraiser or Barack Obama hosting rallies without telling his supporters about them. Why create obstacles to building your movement?
That is why the most important message that was lost in 2014 wasn’t simply how many jobs were created in the past 5 years, but the message of who we are and who are we going to share it with. Everything else should complement these efforts.
It’s time to put the Obama campaign’s “Respect. Empower. Include.” slogan at the forefront of a Democratic MOVEMENT that is well-aware that it represents much more than a bureaucracy….but it is leading the cause of democratic opportunity for all in our government.
Hopefully, the Democratic Victory Task Force will address some of these issues. And I really hope we can work with current DNC leaders to enact them because they will need Obama supporters and those who demand a “Yes We Can” culture if they’re going to work for another presidential candidate in 2016.
There's no reason why Network For Progress should be the only game in town for the State of the Union and so many other great community-building opportunities.
In the meantime, the question remains, if the Democratic National Committee holds a meeting and doesn’t invite Democrats….does it make a sound?
ABOUT JIM MCBRIDE (FORWARD PROGRESSIVE):
Jim has spent over twenty years working in Communications, from radio to TV to public relations from the high-tech sector (Checkpoint Software, OfficeDepot.com) to being the first media staffer hired at the International Association of Fire Fighters after 9/11 who managed Fire Fighters for Kerry press outreach.
McBride has been an active grassroots activist since 2004, previously serving as President of the Arlington Young Democrats (Virginia Young Democrats’ 2007 Club of the Year), Vice Chair of Precinct Operations for Arlington Democrats, Virginia for Obama Volunteer Database Coordinator (2008 Primary), Founder of Generation Webb and the Generation Obama-DC community he still engages as one of the DNC’s top Gen44 young professional fundraisers for the Obama Victory Fund.