The Democratic Party failure did not begin with this election. For decades, party poohbahs have been protected behind old barriers of power. Revamp the Democratic Party right down to the county level. Time to put someone in charge of the party who fosters drastic (correct word) change at the state and local levels. This change must include establishing local rules to force maximum inclusiveness right down to the real grass roots. Replace non performing old leaders and failed coalitions with new leaders whose younger ideas have been stifled too long.
For decades, state and local levels of the Democratic Party failed to act, allowing Republicans to rule at the state level. How many states have Republican legislatures and governors? For years, the party has moaned that the Democrats don’t turnout in off year elections. They never asked why or what leadership was required to organize them to show up in off years. The surprise this election is that this failure was so long in coming.
Is it time to organize alternative approaches to the parties at the local level? In primary elections, citizens should select slates of candidates offering real solutions to real problems. Such actions would force the parties to change or become historic relics. Conservatives swamped a Republican Party that opposed Trump, many right down to election day. If national leadership is too slow or too resistant to change, the local voters must act. They did in this Presidential election.
As always, big elections are about ideas. At the very root of the grass roots, the Democratic Party had no ideas other than the status quo. Party leaders sat around year after year, as they lost state legislative seat after seat with governors to follow. Growing fat and lazy on their union and old people laurels, many local parties ignore everyone else. The irony is that the union base was voting ever more Republican. The successful county party will address and solve LOCAL issues. Currently, many local parties ignore the local issues, or worse, are invested in them.
Now is the time to organize people of all persuasions locally and within the states. Howard Dean got this idea part right with his fifty state strategy. However, seeds need fertile ground to sprout and many county Democratic and Republican local parties are far too insular to contain the least bit of fertility. Low turnout in midterms is dramatic proof of this reality and the results are disastrous. Change will come and the grassroots are where this change must develop, if necessary, without the political parties. Most often successful elections are about ideas. Begin to organize locally around developing solutions to the most pressing local challenges facing citizens. Ideas and solutions matter. The party or group providing them will prevail.
One promising approach is local people, including many individuals who actually donated time and energy to campaigns, organizing online and on the ground. Millennials and people who came out and knocked on doors can form a powerful group to drive change. People like this can identify three big issues facing their community or county; develop workable solutions to those issues that appeal to a majority and energize voters to show up at the polling stations.
Armed with these powerful tools, groups can recruit strong candidates for state and local offices to contest primary elections while offering workable solutions to real problems. The size and enthusiasm of the voter group should deliver winning majorities at the polls. Increased voter turnout and high quality elected candidates dedicated to actually solving real problems facing citizens should provide good government.
Where do the political parties fit into this approach? They are the tools. The issues based groups use party primaries to run candidates for offices where no candidates exist or to challenge candidates who refuse to develop real solutions to real problems. Political parties should remain completely neutral in primaries. If an incumbent or favored candidate cannot win in a primary, they are unlikely to long prevail in an open election. If the political party backs a candidate in a primary, large enough groups of organized people taking coordinated action can nullify the party support.
Change must come and here is a pathway toward making political parties responsive to local voters and improving government.