Welcome to our continuing live coverage of Netroots Nation in Phoenix, Arizona.
This afternoon, NPI President Robert Cruickshank is leading a panel discussion about the collapse of the Democratic Party in the states and the need for a new fifty-state strategy to rebuild the party’s strength in statehouses from Alaska to Florida. Here’s the premise of the panel as submitted to Netroots Nation:
The 2014 election was catastrophic for the progressive movement and the Democratic Party. Republicans gained a record number of seats in state legislatures and seized the governorships of several more blue states. Since President Obama took office, Democrats have lost nearly 1,000 state legislative seats. There are only seven states where Democrats control the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature. Until we reverse the slide in the states, Democrats will have a nearly impossible time retaking Congress and being able to govern the country again. Of course, GOP control of states is causing serious damage in and of itself, as they impose extremist policies and undermine progressive victories. This panel brings together leaders from across America to analyze the reasons for this disaster—and to chart the course back to power.
- Election focus was only on the gubernatorial level and the federal level. There was not enough focus on downballot races.
- Don’t build the roof, build the foundation. Focusing just on top of the ticket races at the expense of downballot races is counterproduce.
- In Washington state, we had an election consultant problem. Consultants advised to talk to the middle instead of talking to progressive causes.
- Turnout had dropped from 2010 to the 2014 elections. Causes could include Democrats not speaking to their base.
- Redistricting by right wing-dominated redistricting commissions hurt Democrats’ ability to compete in subseqent elections.
- Arizona is run by the “Boys’ Club”. There has really been no turnover in who is control of Arizona.
- People, especially in poor and minority communities, don’t feel that elected officials care about them, so they lose the motivation to vote.
- Build the foundation. Focus on getting progressive people elected to the lower level offices. This will feed up the chain to push more progressive ideas and candidates within the higher offices.
- In Washington State, campaign consultants were not speaking the right language. Candidates need to speak to progressive issues that resonate with voters.
- Democrats need to drive their base on issues they care about. This is necessary to get them motivated to vote.
- More value needs to be placed on candidates who run for offices like local water district commissioners.
- State Secretary office is very important because they are instrumental in making it easy for citizens to vote.
- It’s important to improve our messaging to reach out to people hearts. Voters don’t vote for a candidate just because they are intellectual. The voter needs to feel that the candidate is running to do something to lift them up.
- The is no such thing as an off-year election. Focus on all elections because it helps build the foundation for better success in future elections.
- Candidates need to knock on doors and be connected to the people. You can’t run a campaign on Facebook Ads.
- Reach out to the poor, single mothers, and minorities. Reaching out to the base is important. Campaign consultants that claim that this is a waste of time are wrong.
- Minorities need to be included in all levels of the election process and in candidate training. Ads and names should not be “white washed”. Ads need to be made by the candidates and the people who support them.
- Have a long-term plan as well as a short-term plan in elections.
- Republicans are aware and are afraid of the voting population changing. We as progressives need to reach out to the new evolving voting population to grow our base.
- Redistricting commissions are usually elected in secret. It is important to shed light on the redistricting commissions and get progressive people appointed/elected to those redistricting commissions.
- In Arizona, and elsewhere, we need to advocate for new leadership.
- To keep people energized, one must be authentic. This helps restore trust in elected politicians.
- Voting rights is a very important issue. Access to the ballot box is very important in getting the right candidates elected that work for the people.
This was a great panel; Robert may have additional thoughts to share on how it went here on the Cascadia Advocate sometime during the next few days.