your responses to an open letter to the democratic party

On January 26 we met to discuss this letter that we previously posted and sent out to all of you. The letter is a call for action and change by the Democratic Party. Below you will find each section of the letter followed by audience responses and suggestions in red. But first read comments from Betsy Hunt who was very active in the Lake County Democratic Party during the last election cycle. They are inciteful, frightening, and a call to action for all of us. She spoke at the end of our meeting to summarize her thoughts and then at the urging of all of us sent the following email laying out her response and thoughts. Then read on for responses and comments to the letter from those in attendance at our meeting.

From Betsy Hunt:

First of all, this document that Indivisible created is exactly what we need. I hope you’ve read it and more importantly, you’ve highlighted what impacted you and that you want to talk more about and get involved.

For those who don’t know me, I’ve worked closely with the Lake County Democratic party for more than a year. The 6 months leading up to the last election, I spent 40 hours/day, 7 days a week working at the Lake County Dem office. So here are my thoughts about Indivisible’s letter and where we are today.

  1. What is the role of the Local Democratic party?
    1. To build/recruit people over local issues.
    2. Voter Education, voter registration, voter turnout
    3. Without sustained activities between campaigns, momentum is seriously diminished.
    4. Spend the time between elections to build people and money resources to grow party organization.
    5. Build relationships, TRUST, both ways with other organizations, with precinct people and with voters. There are people in the many local progressive groups who can help with all of what we need to grow the party. BUT NO ONE FROM THE PARTY ASKS! No one other than the core central committee is allowed into decision making.
  1. What should we be doing now?
    1. Back to school events, voter registration, planning for summer festivals and what information we can handout to voters about the Democratic party. What issues can we focus on in the summer?
    2. How do we get young voters involved?

Here’s where we are NOW.

There are NO PHONE CALLS coming into the Lake County Democratic office. Because our website hasn’t been updated since 12/29. No activities that the public are aware of – and I mean in an easily obtainable fashion. “I just saw something on the news that pisses me off and it’s time that I get involved with the local democratic party”. How can I do that easily?

Because there is literally NO MECHANISM for an interested voter to get involved with the Lake County Dem party. Or to join a precinct org. Or to become a precinct person, OR to run for office, or be a poll worker. NOTHING.

Now let’s look at the Lake County Republican website. I’ve called them. They answer the phone. They had a holiday party for ALL of Lake County people – for $10. They have two events coming up. They have a newsletter. More importantly, they have ALL of their 17 town precinct organization listed on their website. With the chairman’s name, contact information, website – and even more important, 9 of the 17 city/town orgs list the dates/times of their monthly precinct org. meetings. So a Repub voter sees something that makes them take notice, all they have to do is go on Repub website, look for their town and they are instantly connected to the Republican party in Lake County.

And this is why Visclosky won in 2016 by 83% to 16% with 72,000 Dems to 22,000 Repubs.

In 2020, Frank won 60% to 37% with 78,000 Dems and 49,700 Repubs.

and in 2022, Frank won 55% to 44% with 43,600 Dems to 31,600 Repubs.

And if we don’t do something NOW, we will lose the first district to the Republicans. We have all seen EXACTLY what the Repubs want to do – they’re against education, want to ban books, against women’s rights, even medical abortions, they’re against climate initiatives, they want to take away Social Security, Medicare, against LGBTQ rights, no safe spaces anymore at Lake Central, guns have more rights that any of the above. And now on the local level, they’re electing Republicans who are science deniers.

And yet no one is answering the phone at the Lake County Democratic office. We ALL need to take Indivisible’s Open Letter to heart and start working together to figure out our next steps. And coordination between all of us and information for voters is the beginning.

An Open Letter to the Democratic Party and Your Responses

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.

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.



Regarding lengthy messaging, Republicans use the “ten word” approach for getting their message out. Democrats need to follow suit.

Republican messaging unified state and nationwide; there is often a splintering in messaging between national and state Democrats. Democrats don’t have top down messaging; Republicans do. Democrats don’t have a consistent message from top to bottom; Republicans do.

All of us need to post to the various social media we use with short, strong slogans, i.e., “Democrats Deliver.”

Oppositional research is a smart thing to do. Learn as much as possible about what the Republican Party is doing and about their candidates.

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.


The Local Party needs to have more in person gatherings to build relationships above those in city/town organizations. Such events will foster unity.

The State Party needs to educate us, inform us, and tell us what they do with our money. Most communications we receive from them are asks for donations. The Democratic Party should send out messages and emails without always asking for money.

Zoom meetings would allow all interested people to attend and join in.

State Party should host an online fundraiser, kind of a virtual “meet and greet.” Small fundraising events could get buy in from the Democratic Party.

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.


The Democratic Party should be identifying issues to address and groups they can partner with.

The Democratic Party needs to identify events other groups and grassroots organizers are holding and attend those events. They need to be easily visible throughout the community year round.

Remell Bryant, who has been hired as State Organizer by the Indiana Democratic Party for Northern Indiana, announced that now that the 2022 election is over, she is working on year-round organizing There will be a kick-off event for volunteers on February 16. More information will be forthcoming. She was at the meeting. Her contact information: 219-316-3941 (Cell); Office: 101 West Washington Street; Suite 1110 East; Indianapolis, IN 46204 (317) 231-7011 (Main #) (317) 231-7129 (Fax)

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.


The working class is not just unions. The Party needs to reach out to workers who are not part of unions and are feeling as though they have been ignored. They need to address how that strategy can be developed and implemented.

Concerns were raised about conservative talk radio and how that influence can be minimized. These shows are reaching groups like truckers and have succeeded in bringing them from the Democratic to the Republican side.

The Democratic Party must go into the communities with the message that the Democratic Party can help them—and then do that!

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.


Republicans have programs such as the Lugar Series and Women Republicans to develop and train candidates.

One of the 2022 state candidates confirmed that they received little support. That must change.

A local resource instructor for candidates needs to be developed. There needs to be dedicated staff who will let candidates know about available training and how to get it.

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.


Mobilize is great for signing up volunteers, but doesn’t have a training component.

In the current political climate, even “seasoned” canvassers need additional training on dealing with and deescalating hostility.

We discussed the most effective ways to reach out to voters: canvassing, texts, mail? Volunteers have different comfort levels for methods of reaching voters, but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus of the most effective.

According of the University of Virginia School of Public and Environmental Affairs, voters need to see a candidate’s name seven times—they need candidate contact seven times. That conclusion seems to indicate that a variety of approaches are best—and at least seven times for each voter.

We need to think out of the box when contacting voters.

In Northwest Indiana, voters appreciate not just hearing from a candidate, but seeing them.

The Indiana VAN (Voter Access Network) is seriously out of date.

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.


LGBTQI+ individuals need to be included under this umbrella.

Don’t talk about these groups — their needs, how to reach them — without input from them.

A bilingual outreach to Hispanics (and other languages as needed) must be developed.

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.


Because of the lack of interest in younger members and new ideas, although they may want to get involved, they don’t stay.

Local parties need to do a better job of vetting candidates. In Porter County, an elected official switched from Democratic to Republican immediately after winning the election. This could become a tactic—a new strategy for Republicans.

Women’s Caucus

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.