Episode 7: Suraj Patel, Co-Founder of The Arena

Like many people the day after the election of Donald Trump, Suraj Patel turned to his friends for consolation and inspiration. Those conversations, many of which were with former Obama and Hillary Clinton staffers, quickly morphed into a plan: bring a large group of people together in the middle of the country to discuss what to do next. Incredibly, with just three weeks’ notice, Suraj and his fellow co-founders got over 400 people to show up in Nashville and in the process ended up founding an impressive organization called The Arena.

Suraj Patel

The Arena encourages young progressives to run for office and seeks to build the tech and organizational infrastructure around them that will enable them to succeed. They are accomplishing this through quarterly meetings in swing states, meeting groups in cities across the country, and a fellowship program.

In Episode Seven of Next Gen Dem, Suraj and I discuss how he believes voter suppression is the number one challenge facing Democrats, how the Arena got started and the group’s goals for the future, as well as his advice for individuals thinking of running for office.

Quote of the Episode:

“We cannot look at where Democrats have difficulties around the country in isolation without looking at voter suppression, without looking at voter ID laws, without looking at early voting locations….Many states are super red, because we’re not being allowed to cast our votes.”

For more information on the Arena and their upcoming summit in Detroit from June 9–10, please visit www.thearena.run.

For more information on the Creative Caucus, another organization Suraj started, please visit www.thecreativecaucus.com.

If you would like to be a guest on the Next Gen Dem podcast, or know someone who you think would be a good fit — or if you know of a good organization to feature — please email me at max@nextgendem.com.

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