How the Democrats have to Change.
In writing this it is almost impossible to quite comprehend the level of damage that we are surveying. In truth, there is some risk this memo is simply too late. But since there seems to be no other option than to try. We shall.
November 8th‘s horrible result was very difficult to predict and arrived via a razor thin margin; yet it still tells us a great deal about the path forward. Our Party, the Democratic Party, is one that has failed to communicate with the American People on a very basic level. We generate an unceasing and nearly endless discussion of what to say and what policies to back. But these conversations are largely amongst ourselves. What they fundamentally lack is a blueprint detailing how and when you should talk to people and whom you should talk to. Our Party exists primarily as an invasion of “organizers” and also on your T.V. screen. Millions of dollars are spent on advertising and e-mail inboxes overflow with pleas for money at a near constant drip. The result is transient group of political organizers with no roots in communities going door to door, every two to four years and a completely lost concept of community. Fundamentally the Democratic Party has to re-orient itself into a fixture in people’s lives and provide help for the people whose votes we require year round.
Permanent and Local
The people who represent the Democratic Party and its candidates in any given election should be local people, and they should be hired for the job on a four year basis. One of the most powerful drivers of human behavior is peer-pressure. That pressure is much more powerfully applied when you know that if you disappoint the person, you will have to see them again. We need to have people with earned credibility in the community speaking to the community. We need to be around. Since we absolutely need to get members of the community to do most of the real work in their communities, we need our organizers not to be transient, because a transient person is easy to dismiss.
Membership driven and service providing.
People need to feel a real sense that the Democratic Party is something they belong to not just once every two or four years but as a part of their lives on nearly a daily basis. We need a hub through which all things flow. We also frankly need to provide things that people want. The Democratic Party should be a resource for baby sitters, and dog walkers because that helps make believers lives easier. We need to run food pantries, and educational classes, and community gatherings, and even sometimes parties. Interconnection is what makes people want to do things more than anything else. By providing services we can also help to begin collecting dues. People happily pay $ 10 for all sorts of streaming and delivery services. We need that kind of income stream so we can be permanent and local.
Focus on Young People constantly.
The Democratic Party has a truly terrible record when it comes to outreach to young people. They are expected to knock on doors and make calls, and move half way around the country to knock on doors and make calls. They hear from us, often through celebrities, only once every four years with about three months to go in the election. They are then roundly ignored for the rest of the time. In midterms they are almost never targeted. Young people don’t vote and thus it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We win the young by large margins but the falloff in turnout among the young causes huge amounts of our mid-term pain and also certainly brought us defeat in this agonizer to end all agonizers.
Communicate Information not just Advertising.
As someone involved in politics I must have received 15,000 campaign e-mails in 2016. I am somewhat atypical, as I am on more lists than almost anyone, but the volume is insane. Nearly every single one was a request for money in one form or another. The ability to raise money online has been incredible, but it has come at a steep price. E-mail could be an exceptionally valuable tool for the spreading of information. But instead that tool is nearly entirely crippled by the absolute flood of e-mail people get. Oversaturation is absolutely poisonous. It might be possible to get someone to read one e-mail a day, but when you get dozens they all disappear. This may seem like a small, inconsequential point, but it speaks to the larger issue.
Call Time is Killing the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party is infected with the plague of call time. What that means is that many Democratic candidates get into a room for 3 to 4 hours a day and call those who are financially able to make a contribution of anywhere between $ 500 and the national limit. It is those candidates who can succeed at this task, and only those candidates, who then receive additional funding support from the Democratic Party. This limits utterly and dramatically the kind of people whom we are able to run and therefore the voices that we hear from. Our candidates become far too elite. We also compete in far fewer places than we should for the simple reason that in some places no one with background and ability to raise money steps up to run and then we walk away. Instead, we need to find ways to run campaigns for less, but also find ways to fund them that will allow the candidate to spend time with people, talk to people and be a voice which is different.
We need to innovate, innovate, innovate.
These are just a few quick ideas. I am sure there is better stuff I have not thought of yet and encourage readers to write in with more, more, more. There’s no premium on an exact path. But there is urgency like never before to try new things, to get people truly involved, to increase everyone’s level of engagement. Organizing takes effort and more importantly time. The mid-terms will be here before we know it.
Structure And Cost
Rough Cost Estimate $600,000,000 per year:
One Regional Organizer per 60,000 people will require 5,000 total, full-time organizers. Virtually all will be local.
Salary and benefits will average $ 75,000 a year with appropriate regional variations. — Annual Cost of Organizers — $375 million
Each Regional Organizer needs two part time youth organizers. Salary for these at $15,000 for total cost of $150 million
10 Deputies per Regional organizer (“DRO’s”) 1 for every 6,000 people (Mostly volunteers — Precinct captains are best approach but precinct size varies a lot)
1 Volunteer Neighborhood Organizer for 300 voters (20 Per DRO)
Offices for all regions, Programming at the Deputy Regional Organizer level
Funding Source: Dues paying Democrats again.
Secretary Clinton received roughly 62 million votes. We need 1 in 6 (or roughly 10,000,000) members to pay $ 10 a month. This activates this entire plan. They need to know that a lot of their money is staying local. We need lots of events for members, and a physical presence staffed year round so organizers can speak with their neighbors.