November 18, 2016
Dear DNC members,
As we Democrats reflect on the results of the November election and how to reconnect with our voters, allow us to respectfully suggest that rebuilding the party at the state and local levels should be a central focus moving forward.
The DNC in recent elections has focused almost all its energy at maintaining the White House. Though electing a Democratic President is of utmost importance, we cannot do so if our party continues to atrophy at the state and local levels. At this point we are down to 15 governors and control only 13 state legislatures. If we fail to support state and local parties and develop candidates down ballot, we will cease to be an effective national party.
We propose either the creation of a new well-funded entity whose mission is to provide state and local support (to parallel the DNC’s work at the national level) or a fundamental restructuring of the DNC to take on that mission in a manner that is of equal importance to its presidential campaign role.
The infrastructure for a true 50 state strategy exists already in the officials who hold public office, even when they are elected to non-partisan positions. It exists in our networks and constituency groups. But these groups are all operating in silos. With few resources, and no effort to connect them to one another, they flounder. They may grow for a few years under an active Chair or President, but then diminish after a leadership change.
Strong funding that can ensure quality staffing to see these organizations through leadership shifts is desperately needed. But a College Democrat or a Democratic Municipal Official can't pick up the phone and raise $50,000 in one call. An entity that can do that for them is essential to rebuilding our party. Imagine if our associations of elected officials at all levels of government and our constituency groups were convened regularly to enact a coordinated strategy for voter registration, voter protection and voter engagement.
Imagine if every time a potential voter came in contact with a local government body they were asked if they were registered to vote at their current address, and offered the opportunity to update their voter registration. We can make that happen.
Imagine if we sent high-level surrogates out around the country not just once every four years to elect a president, but on a regular basis EVERY YEAR to meet party volunteers, local officials and swing voters to inspire engagement in our party. We can make that happen. Imagine if the over 30,000 Democratic City Council Members in the United States were connected, engaged, empowered and trained on how to communicate on Democratic issues, enact local ballot initiatives to increase turnout, use voter files, and communicate with swing voters regularly over a four year period. We can make that happen.
Republicans have had a consistent policy message at every level of government for decades. We need local officials reinforcing the same national progressive talking points communicated by Democrats in Congress.
Local elected officials know their constituents need to see them throughout their term of office, not just at election time. They are present in their communities every single day. They aren't gone all week to the state capitol or to Washington. They are in the grocery store, the coffee shop, the library, the corner bar, the commuter station, the union hall, and the college campus. In short, they are where the voters are.
We strongly urge you to form a new entity that will truly be the Democratic Party of the entire United States, or reconstitute the DNC so that it is able to provide the requisite support at the state and local level. We need to build the party nationally with a strong and growing grassroots base, and retake our states while we elect the next president.