Since one of the most devastating election results in modern American history, there has been a lot of hand-wringing from the high and the low alike about how awful the leadership of the Democratic Party is and how much it needs to change. Most recently – at this moment – is a piece by Robert Reich wherein he says that the Democratic Party needs to “clean house”.
I don’t necessarily disagree. As a Democrat living in a red area, I’d love to see party leadership that is willing to take a risk to expand the board, which is to say attempt to recruit candidates in areas they’re likely to lose. American elections have become incredibly uncompetitive.
Pennsylvania has a lot of government, or rather a lot of governments. In the upcoming local election year (yeah, we have elections in odd years too), there will be 100 offices up for election in my county alone. What this year will bring is anyone’s guess, but during the local elections I have observed, I’ve seen the vast majority of local offices go, without contest, to either the incumbent or a hand-picked member of the majority party. The same thing is happening across the country.
Sorry, I’ve digressed. Where was I? Oh yeah…
The Democratic Party leadership should change. Yes, Robert Reich is right. The thing that I haven’t really heard anyone say, though, is that the DNC is nearly invisible to most local party members. Ask a member of your county Democratic Party how often they interact with the DNC. Unless they’re from a hugely populous Democratic majority county I bet the answer is almost never.
What I’m trying to say is this, if you want to change the Democratic Party, maybe try getting involved at the local level. I know, you say, that’s so pointless until a critical mass of people begins to get involved! How am I going to make a difference? What if other people aren’t doing it?
Let me ask you this: what are you waiting for? Do you not have time? Neither does anyone else. Make some time. Do you think you don’t understand how local politics (or any politics) works? You’ll learn. If Donald Trump can be President-elect of the United States, you can help your local party elect school board members and city councilors and borough supervisors, etc.
Robert Reich’s message is exactly what I expect of someone who is so vastly far-removed from local parties that he probably forgets we exist. What makes me utterly unhinged is when I hear people who aren’t even involved or who are marginally involved spend all their politically-motivated energy on who’s leading the DNC and how awful they are and can’t we please sign a petition to get rid of whoever it is that’s leading the DNC right now (it’s Donna Brazile, and yes, I know that).
I’m not saying you can’t support Keith Ellison for DNC Chair. Do that, if you want to, but spend about 100 times more effort on making a difference in your county party or – if you’re in an area with more Democrats – your sub-county local structure. Can’t find your county party? Try a neighboring county, they might be able to help you. Above all, don’t sit on the sidelines and think a change in leadership at the DNC is going to solve your problem.
If there is one thing that has happened since Donald Trump won the electoral college vote that makes me happy, it’s the number of messages I’ve gotten from people who now know that they can’t sit by and wait until the next presidential election. They have to do something now, and I’m happy to assist them in that.