From: Gerry Straatemeier, Co-Founder of the Progressive Caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party and a retired State Committeewoman.
First, CONGRATULATIONS to Senator Sanders and to all my Bernie friends! What an awesome campaign! A powerful, refreshing, breath of fresh air!
Even if you feel angry and disheartened after Hillary was nominated despite everything Bernie did and we did to try to nominate Bernie – NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO GIVE UP – It’s the time to GET STRATEGIC and GET TO WORK! We still HAVE a ” A Future To Believe In” if you and I are willing to put in the work to make it happen.
I was disheartened too, but we have won many battles and with those wins and our passionate presence, YUGE influence – LET’S NOT SQUANDER IT by stomping off the field! The oligarchs are counting on that kind of weakness in our movement. This fight was never about Bernie, whose energy lit us up. Thank you Bernie and Jane! It was always about the “Future We Believe In.”
Did you really think working your heart out in one campaign was all you had to do and the oligarchs would just roll over? We have made YUGE strides this year and we need to keep the pressure on the candidate to fulfill the concessions we won at the bargaining table. That means staying working within the party, not jumping ship just before the miracles happen.
I remember the first time a progressive Democratic candidate I had worked my heart out for day and night lost a primary – and yes, the party did have their thumb on that one too. It REALLY HURTS and you feel deeply betrayed.
BUT- if you want to really have influence beyond being a face in a rally crowd and $27 donations, it’s important to understand how “the party” works and how the party works within a very complex array of stakeholders.
“The Party” is just everyday people like you and me, working for what they believe in. Much of the leadership are older than God and can be retired soon and replaced by YOU. HOW? Party leaders are elected by people within your local state legislative district who are elected by their neighbors to be Precinct committeemen – with one exception – the Party Chair is selected by a sitting Democratic president.
You can potentially be much more powerful than you know – IF you are willing to do some hard work.
Here’s every progressive needs to do:
- Stay active in fighting for the ISSUES you care about with the community groups you are active in now – veterans issues, economic justice, peace, criminal justice reform, immigration, environment, black lives matter…etc. Build those movements strong and help them to influence important policy changes – including from your place within the party.
- Become a Party Officer yourself! Now is the time for YOU to be elected or appointed a PC (precinct committeeman) – and then move up through the ranks of the party. Ask how at your local Dem HQ.
It’s WORK. It’s lots of GOTV work and meetings, meetings, meetings, but if you are willing to put in that work, very soon your progressive voice can be heard where it needs to be heard. If you are articulate and passionate and willing to work with people who disagree with you on some issues but agree on many others, people just like you are transforming the Party. Please join them!
- Run for office! The country needs WAY more progressives who are willing to put themselves on the line way past a single election cycle and actually “get their hands dirty” doing the work of governance. From dogcatcher to President, when you hold elected office, you have more influence over policy and the conversation about policies – both in the actual governance and in the Party.
- Support progressive candidates with your time and money. Start with Bernie’s list.
- Learn how to lobby! Whatever issues group you are working with, let this be one powerful tool for change. Believe it or not, when you lobby your elected representatives repeatedly on behalf on an issue, you over time develop a relationship where some asks can be accomplished even with members of the opposition party. Small wins add up! I learned this through the organization Results, an organization working quietly and effectively for a world free of poverty. http://www.results.org/
I know, it FEELS BETTER to stomp off the field after a defeat and go back to other ordinary things. But these are extraordinary times and YES WE CAN keep making significant progress issue by issue by issue if YOU stay in the game.
We still HAVE a ” A Future To Believe In” if you are willing to put in the work to make it happen.