Saturday, March 4, 2017

The way forward for Democrats

I used to work for a state Democratic party. So I saw the challenges of trying to win races in a red state up close. And for the most part, it's not going to change. I say that because with Democrats' embrace of civil rights in the 60s and the southern strategy of the Republicans, TN and much of the south change from being a Democratic stronghold to a Republican stronghold. This took a while, in part because it took a while for voters to fully get the signals and change their partisanship (which is something that rarely changes) and because they were used to voting for incumbents that they liked. Once Democratic incumbents retired voters finally made the switch.

So we aren't going to get a lot of those people back, at least as long as the Democratic party is committed to equality and not being racist and sexist, which I obviously think we should. Sure, some of these people could be open to voting for us on economic issues, as they did with President Obama in 2008 and 2012. But those are unique circumstances (2008 financial crisis) that we simply can't bank on happening, at least when we need them to happen.

So I think we should do what we can to get people who already share our values, not try to convince racists and sexists to flip parties. That means we need massive, targeted voter registration drives. Before I was laid off at the TNDP, I proposed reverse engineering Votebuilder to basically canvass areas we think are Democratic, skipping the ones already registered in Votebuilder, and trying to get our people registered. Much like many human actions, getting involved in politics and voting are habits that we build up. Once we get people registered, get their emails/phone numbers, and get them to the polls for us, they'll likely get into that habit.

Once campaigns start ramping up we can focus on polling so that we can find the right message and target the right swing voters (few though they may be). But until campaigns ramp up, we should be going all out with the voter registration plan I laid out above. And I don't think state parties and county parties can just rely on volunteers to get this done. We need to fund this operation from the top down, from the DNC to the state parties to the county parties. We need young and old people being paid to do this efficiently and effectively. Assuming we can fight through the restrictive voting laws Republicans are passing and get people registered and stay engaged with them I'm confident we'll benefit at the polls.

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