Although the 2022 midterms were generally successful for the Democratic Party and for democracy itself, here in Indiana that was not the case. In fact, more Republicans were elected to state office than were there during the last cycle. The Steering Committee has worked to present a document to those ‘in charge’ in the Democratic Party with suggestions we believe will make the Party stronger and lead to more democratic and progressive wins.
Below please read through the letter. We will meet later this month to present and discuss it with everyone.
Join us on Thursday January 26 at 6pm at the Merrillville Library, 1919 W. 81st Ave in Merrillville.
An Open Letter to the Democratic Party
Indivisible NWI was formed as an organization nearly six years ago. We were one of the first chapters formed in the National Indivisible Organization that came to be at the beginning of the Trump presidency. We were formed to stand up against everything Trump stood for, to combat misinformation by busting myths and spreading real information, to civically educate our communities, to give the public information on how to reach their elected officials, to work on issues important to us, to offer voter registration and training and to do it all from outside of party constraints.
Indivisible was and is a progressive organization, but partners with the Democratic Party to further causes and candidates that we all agree on in common. As we have seen democracy erode and our rights threatened, we identified candidates across the country and in NWI, in particular, to offer our support. We endorsed and put full support behind several candidates in NWI and all of them went on to victory. We called on our members and partners to do canvassing, phone and text banking, postcard writing, attending meetings and sponsoring town halls. We encouraged our members to work with campaigns, and they did. While we were thrilled that our endorsed candidates won, we saw that many candidates across our state did not.
We saw quite a few things that we felt could have and should have been done better or in a different manner. While working side by side with the party, we have been able to identify areas in which we would like to offer our observations in sincere hope that changes are made to benefit candidates and in turn, the public. There are reasons that the Republicans have a super majority here in Indiana and it will take serious change to overcome.
To that end, please accept our observations and suggestions. We have met with and listened to not only our own members, but former Democratic Party candidates, office holders and volunteers. We have added their suggestions and observations along with our own.
Please see each point with synopsis/suggestions following:
Messaging needs to be short and easy to follow and understand
- Time and time again, we have seen wordy, long, “inside baseball” messaging coming out of the party. It’s messaging that only those who are hyper involved would understand.
- Statistics over the last several years tell us that many in our country have no more than a 5th grade reading level and comprehension.
- In addition, the public is exposed to a steady onslaught of information. This overwhelming amount of information leads to a short attention span for news and the need to catch attention with succinct messaging.
- Any and all marketing/messaging delivered to the public should lean toward brevity. This pertains to speeches as well.
- We should never assume that everyone is well informed. Everything must be explained at a base level to include everyone.
- We asked time and time again for bullet pointed, easy to understand messaging and literature. Long involved paragraphs are not read and are only skimmed. Short, to the point, bullet pointed messages make more of an immediate impact.
- Democrats must stop being afraid to do hard hitting messaging. We MUST COUNTERACT myths and lies forcefully.
MESSAGING IS EVERYTHING!
Social media/graphics needs to be better
- The best way to reach the public is through eye catching, easy to read, simple messaging that informs or calls the reader to action.
- We’ll say it once again – nothing wordy.
- It’s important that all posts are shared with the right groups and organizations to maximize exposure.
- Republicans, especially in Indiana, have a much better social media network. The lack of a similar or better Democrat social media presence is unacceptable.
The Democratic party needs to identify and hire the best marketing strategists. There are plenty of people in Indiana who are marketing and messaging professionals. The Democratic party, especially in Indiana needs to rebrand. The party needs to look to the best and brightest within our own state. Look to those with experience but bring in recent college/university grads to help and advise.
Communication must improve among Party chairs and officials across the state
- In our experience many Party Chairs and officials do not communicate with each other.
- In a time of so many options for communication the party has little; there is no excuse for this. The Democrats must build a cohesive organization that fosters communication instead of the apparent hoarding of information that occurs constantly with so many party leaders.
- Imagine what might happen if everyone shared information, resources, training, events, etc. Unity possibly?
- Hold monthly region/state leader calls/zoom.
- Hold monthly/bi-monthly calls/zoom update for local party members and volunteers on the monthly leader call. Keep everyone in the loop.
- The Indiana Party chair should have regular meetings with county chairpersons and in person visits during the year to hear from members as well, to get updates and to offer support.
Year- Round Organizing and partnering is essential
- Time and time again we have been asked why the Democratic party only shows itself as we get closer to an election. Where are they the rest of the year in the community? Why are they not going to community meetings, joining, or participating in community groups? Why aren’t they visibly working on local issues important to the community?
- Other organizations like ours, organize year-round. We partner year-round. The Democratic party has the perception of only reaching out when the party needs something. This must change.
- The party should be reaching out to work with community groups, unions and more every month of the year, solidifying support for when it is really needed.
- Plan to meet and organize all year through.
- Identify groups and issues for partnering.
- Attend other groups’ meetings.
- Offer assistance all year.
Reconnect with the working class
- Many members of the working class and union members no longer identify with the Democratic party.
- The Party needs to return to its roots by reaching out to those who feel left behind.
- The impression is that Dems only care about the most underprivileged and not at all for the working class.
- The party must reconnect with workers groups, union leaders and members throughout the year and not only the summer before an election.
- Monthly outreach is necessary to rebuild relationships. Office holders’ staff should dedicate a staff member to this purpose.
- Town halls are imperative to get local leader and community involvement.
- The party needs to listen and respond all year. The party must be seen and heard.
Candidate Support must improve
- We have heard from many candidates that running for office is stressful, expensive, and extremely time consuming.
- Lives and relationships are put on hold. Miles and expense of driving from event to event are expensive and time consuming.
- These sacrifices are made with little or no support from the party. Little training is provided, training that would give a potential candidate the knowledge and support they need to be successful. We have been told that candidates must pay for a slow VAN system.
- The party must stop treating candidates like they are a burden, and instead treat them as a partner.
- Candidates must feel supported. They need great communication, great resources and the support of great and concise messaging.
- The party must set up a real training program for candidates, not just a few hours on a weekend.
- The party should create a support system statewide that candidates can access.
Build the Bench
- Another thing we have heard and seen repeatedly is that there is not much support or encouragement for younger/new people as they come into the party.
- We know that there are party leaders that do not listen to or want new ideas.
- The party is known as “the good old boys and girls club” because new people and ideas are received so poorly.
- New and young people in the party, many of color, are consistently ignored. Calls are not taken, meetings not agreed to.
- This neglect by the Democratic Party is happening at the same time as the Republicans in this state are promoting younger people and reaching out to them.
- The party must stop ignoring new and younger people and people of different backgrounds who want to be involved.
- Party chairs must be open to meeting, taking calls from and working with those who express an interest in doing more within the party.
- The Party must stop being an “old boys club”.
- Younger members must be encouraged to grow organically within the party instead of constantly being discouraged and kept at arm’s length.
- Consider term limits for party chairs to enable new voices to be heard.
Volunteers must be trained well
- Volunteers are the backbone of the party and of any campaign.
- Volunteer organizing and training is many times haphazard or non-existent. The party should not just depend on outside groups for this.
- Volunteers many times feel taken for granted and their experiences are not always good.
- Too many times people were sent out to canvas without any real training on how to approach the public, how to talk to people and with little to no literature on many candidates. Organizations like ours actually did training sessions because we heard so many complaints about this.
- A volunteer training program for trainers is essential.
- Those people can then go back to their counties or campaigns and train the volunteers.
- Volunteers MUST be given training and information to be able to speak to others about not only the candidates, but about programs and legislation that Democratic lawmakers have proposed and/or passed. This is imperative.
Acknowledge opinions and ideas from people of color
It is sad that this must be said, but we hear this complaint from the community. People of color cannot get a call back or acknowledgment many times from some party chairs. This shameful behavior should NEVER happen in the Democratic Party—the party that is supposed to be fighting for average people.
THIS MUST END NOW. The party must stop talking about how to reach out to minority groups without ACTUAL INPUT from those groups.
Open the Process, involve more party members in decision-making
- Decisions seem to be made behind closed doors with only a few powerful party members in attendance.
- This policy results in a very few consolidating power and leads to division and mistrust. As a result, the best and the brightest are excluded from being represented.
Open the process. Allow more party members to participate resulting in a deep bench of potential leaders and new ideas.
Last but certainly not least. Why in 2022 do we need to say this? Where at the convention, is the recognition of a WOMEN’S CAUCUS?
EVERY woman I know in the Democratic Party wants equal treatment.