Melissa for DNC Vice Chair

Melissa Byrne
Dec 21, 2016 · 10 min read

Together, We Win.
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Hi, I’m Melissa, I’m an organizer, and I’m running to be one of the next four DNC Vice-Chairs because TOGETHER, WE WIN.

Together, we win by building a strong Democratic Party that knows that racial, gender, and economic justice are all intertwined.

Together, we win by hiring and training the best organizers, digital campaigners, communicators, fundraisers, researchers, operative at the national, state, and local levels.

Together, we win by creating a strong collaboration between our Democratic donors and our rank and file supporters because we are one team no matter our role.

Together, we win by being proud of our progressive values and never choosing political expediency over the hard work of organizing.

Together, we win by recruiting and supporting the best candidates up and down the ticket, not just the ones who can self-fundraise.

Together, we will win at the national, state, and local levels in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and beyond.

I’m an organizer and a leader who’s led campaigns since I was a college student. I’ve proudly worked on the most critical issues of our times: ending sweatshops, resisting the Iraq War, preventing a war with Iran, making student loans and free college a top issue, women’s rights, economic justice, racial justice, expanding Social Security, and that’s just a short list. I’ve proudly worked for labor unions both internally supporting members and in their political operations. I’ve worked on electoral campaigns winning campaigns in most regions of our country at local, state, and national levels.

Most recently, I led Bernie Sander’s digital operation in New Hampshire before heading onto the national digital team. After working my heart for Bernie, I threw everything into electing Hillary Clinton by leading’s program in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. I am so very proud that Gov. Hassan is soon to be Sen. Hassan!

I believe that right now is the most important time for the Democratic Party. We need the best organizers leading our party and doing the hard work of rebuilding. We only do this by centering our organizing on a values-based organizing model that is respectful and hard-hitting at the same time. Now is not the time to pander or bullshit folks to win. Now is the time for the hard work that is required of winning.

We need to always be centered on racial, gender, and economic justice. These issues are critical to Democrats in every region of the country and to the sought after “Independent” voter. There is no need to ever throw one group under the proverbial bus in order to win another group. We need a leave no Democrat behind message. Our strength will draw voters from across the spectrum to not only vote for the Democratic candidate but to roll up their sleeves to volunteer and pull out their bank card to donate.

Together, We Win.

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The Democratic Party needs to become a true party of the people. We do this through effective and respectful organizing of all parts of our party while grounding our work in the best possible progressive policy. For too long, we’ve chosen the easy path instead of rolling up our sleeves and getting to work. I think it’s time we get back to the work of winning. I believe the the Democratic Party does best when we are brave, hopeful, and showing what we can achieve, together. We all need to do the work of organizing. We all need to do the work of donating. We all need to be involved.

The DNC needs to lead the effort to resist Trump and Trumpism. We need to lead the efforts to prevent the normalization of hate groups. We need to actively protect all frontline communities.

Organizing the DNC
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Goal: The DNC and State Parties will have strong, progressive, diverse, respectful staff in DC and in state parties working to expand the Democratic map, grow Democratic membership, and ensure victories for the next four years.

We need to work together to strengthen the internal organization of the Democratic National Committee and the State Parties. By internal organizing, I specifically mean the staff and the structure of the national office in DC and the state parties.

First, we need to meet with and listen to the team at Inclusv. There is no legitimate reason for any part of the Democratic Party — any committee, any aligned organization, any state party, any campaign, any firm/vendor — to not have diverse hiring practices or a diverse staff. This include actively hiring and supporting Democrats with disabilities to work on campaigns, for state parties, committees, and the DNC. We also need to end all unpaid internships. All interns should be paid a minimum of $15/hr. We should look at creating 1–3 week long training programs to set up new organizers (without regard to age) for internships and entry level jobs.

Second, we need to support our national members and state members so that they are actively able to grow the Democratic Party. I will work closely with all the members so that they are using their skills and networks to grow the party. This means listening closely to the state level leaders, advocating for their needs, and working to ensure they are up to date on best practices.

Third, we need to drastically improve our digital communications both in at the DNC and at the party committees. The DCCC, DSCC, and DLCC email programs represent the worst of online communications. It was malpractice that swing state voters were getting “All Hope Is Lost” emails in October. The success of Bernie Sander’s fundraising operations showed that when you treat your members with respect they will donate, become active members, and build a movement. I am confident that running an empowering digital program will benefit the DNC by raising money, volunteers, and voters. I know there are still a lot of feelings over the primary — I have feelings, too — but we shouldn’t let feelings impede on building a winning Democratic Party. We also need to ensure that no Democratic candidate ever uses Nationbuilder and that we keep Democratic money going to companies that support progressive and Democratic candidates. There is no reason to support a tech company that empowered Trump. Josh Hendler and Brian Whitaker wrote a great document on tech and the DNC which should be taken seriously.

Fourth, I propose creating a Working Class caucus. The working class is racially, gender, and regionally diverse. We need working class Democrats to come together to help all aspects of our campaigns and institutions. The working class in America is as diverse as America itself. Our organizing to win needs to reflect this reality.

Fifth, we need to actively ensure our vendors and consultants (for all races/state parties/committees) are implementing diverse hiring practices and that their partnership structures are diverse. Our vendors and consultants should also pay their interns at least $15/hr.

Sixth, as a Vice-Chair, I would work to create a conference meeting protocol for handling issues of harassment and assault. During the DNCC in Philadelphia, there was not a protocol, leaving a delegate no recourse when she filed a complaint of sexual assault against another delegate. As everyone’s favorite Vice-President Joe Biden says, “It’s on US to stop sexual assault.”

Seventh, as a Vice-Chair I would work to create a culture of organizing. At all levels, we should focus on growth and inclusion. Our rank and file members should find pride in being a Democrat and we should look for growth in every county and parish on a monthly basis.

Values and Issues
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I know that the DNC is about building up the state parties, and electing Democrats. But, we aren’t a marketing firm. We have values and should have values. Yes we will likely have differences of opinion. That is okay. We need to be able to be honest instead of superficial. We build strength by working through differences and building strong, winnable teams.

We also need to resist Trump at every step and refuse to normalize his hatred and behavior.

Here are a few of the issues that very important to me. This is not inclusive of every issue I think is critical. Please reach out to me if you think I’ve missed something or to share something with me.

Racial Justice
Racial Justice is a critical issue for all Americans. As Democrats, we should guide our commitment to racial justice by listening to our members of color. We need to always know that issues of racial justice intersect all gender, class, geographic, and sexual identity areas. We need to focus on everything from employment, criminal justice reform, ending private prisons, promoting diversity at corporations, housing, and much more. As a Vice-Chair, I want to work closely to promote racial justice within the Democratic Party. We should always #sayhername and remind everyone that #blacklivesmatter.

Economic Justice
Economic justice is a unifying issue of our time. Our commitment to economic justice must be rooted in a primary commitment to racial and gender justice. As Vice-Chair, I will aggressively work to empower all Democrats who identify as poor, lower-income, working class, and middle class. I will work to promote a strong, economic justice message that will grow the Democratic Party. We need to support our labor unions — public and private sectors, building trades, and service sector. Economic justice will never be code for “working class whites” nor will working class white people be ignored. We can do a lot at once. It is the only way we can win back power. This includes working for economic justice in Puerto Rico as they struggle through their current situation.

Immigration Reform
We need to continue to support immigration reform. We need to actively support and protect immigrants currently on DACA. We also need to protect immigrants who were unable to get DACA due to not serving in the Military or attending college. We must end all immigration detention, eliminate private prisons for detention, and block any mass deportation from Trump.

As a Vice-Chair, I will strongly defend the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid. Yes, we need universal healthcare but right now, we have to save lives by defending the ACA.

Making College Free, Ending Student Loans
All public college tuition from community college through a PhD program should be free. We need to work towards eradicating the current student loan burden, including ending the garnishment of Social Security for student loan debt. Means-testing should never apply to higher education access.

Climate Change
Climate change is real and Democrats need to be on the front lines protecting our climate. This is a critical racial justice issues. We need to be supporting the Native American communities leading at Standing Rock. We need to continually support the survivors of the lead poisoning in Flint. We should listen to our many members who are leaders in the environmental justice movement and work with them to organize our communities

Voting Rights
We need to lead the efforts to repeal voter ID laws, expand early voting, expand same day voter registration, and continue to encourage vote by mail. We also need to end felon disenfranchisement. We should also look to keeping voting rights for those who are incarcerated.

We need to support, affirm, and lift our LGBTI members of the Democratic Party. We need to remember that LBGTI issues go beyond marriage. We need to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), protect trans women (especially trans women of color) from police violence, and know that LGBTI issues intersect with every issue.

Regional Growth- Growing in Cities, Suburbs, and Rural America
The Democratic Party needs to, and will be, competitive in every corner of America. We need to quit using code words to link geographies with kinds of voters. All racial and economic groups live in cities, suburbs, and rural America. As Vice-Chair, I will work to expand our map through effective, honest, and open organizing. This will expand upon the 50 state strategy to an every city, town, county, parish, and community strategy.

We need to expand broadband access, protect net neutrality, and encourage our allies in Silicon Valley to be more ethical.

Abortion is a right guaranteed by the constitution as affirmed by Roe v Wade. The right to abortion is critical for women’s equality in society and to public health.

As Democrats, we respect and support the ability and the right of people to choose abortion when they decide that is the best option for them. We should never roll back abortion rights, contraception access, or sexual health education for political expediency. Instead, we need to continually stand up to all attacks on reproductive health care by working to repeal the Hyde Amendment and the Global Gag Rule (likely to be reinstated by the Trump administration), protecting and expanding access to abortion care and to contraception in every state, and working towards universal health care. Abortion is not only a woman’s issue, it’s a public health issue and a medical issue. It’s a human rights issue. Access to abortion ensures that women can choose whether, when, and with whom to have a child, and as a result reduces maternal death and illness and increases infant and child survival. However we feel individually, we are united in our respect for the basic dignity of women and all people, and the conviction that the right to autonomy, to make your own health care decisions, and to form your family, shouldn’t depend on where you live, how much money you have, or the color of your skin. I believe we can all agree on that. Democrats need to lead on reproductive health and win back statehouses across the country to restore access to all health care and education around sexual health. Yes, there are Democrats who have strong personal feelings about abortion. In communicating with those voters, we must be honest and use clear language, not euphemisms; we must focus on shared economic interests. We know those people, when in need, rely on access to abortion at the same rate as other people. We will never roll back access to any health care for political expediency.

DC Statehood
We need to support DC Statehood.

Social Security
We need to expand Social Security, end the garnishment of Social Security, and protect this program from any cuts. Raising the retirement age is a cut. Means-testing is a cut. Expanding benefits is the winning position.

I’ll keep adding and updating to this list. Please consider helping me to get the forums by donating here:

Melissa Byrne

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I’m an organizer by calling.