Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Future of Hamilton County Democrats

I have given this some thought recently based on the results of the last few elections, and comments made to me by fellow Hamilton County Democrats.  While our numbers continue to increase, the stark fact is that we are a minority party in Hamilton County, holding no county offices and no offices in any of the major cities of the county, Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, or Westfield.  In fact, we struggle to put candidates on the ballot.  I don't remember the last time a Democrat ran for a county office other than judge.  When we do get candidates to run, usually for city or township office, the county Democratic Party gives no official support, because they have no support to give.

So here are some thoughts on where we go from here.

1.  We MUST fill precinct committeeperson spots.  And those people need to be "community organizers" for their neighborhoods, not just people who fill precinct election worker spots twice a year.

2.  We must have a regular and ongoing fundraising system.  There are between 35,000 and 50,000 people willing to vote for the right Democratic candidate, couldn't we average $1 per year from these voters?  No money means the party has no resources to support candidates.

3.  Once fundraising is established, obtain and staff a county headquarters, where candidates and activists can work and hold meetings.

4.  Improve communications.  And this should be not only from the county chairman to the precinct committeepersons, but to all active supporters, and in the other direction, from the grassroots up.

5.  Hold regular meetings.  If nothing else, make these organizational brainstorming sessions.

6.  Give grassroots volunteers something to do!  Hold an event just to be holding an event.  Hold regular phonebanking to support ongoing fundraising. Have a pitch-in dinner.

7.  Grassroots training for precinct committeepeople and other activists.  Teach them how to reach out to their neighbors with the Democratic message.

8.  Put candidates on the ballot, even if the odds seem long.  This is a tough one.  A lot of qualified folks are reluctant to put their names on the ballot when they know the odds are long.  But the Libertarians do a better job of this than we do, and they are a tiny fraction of our numbers.

Some of these suggestions are for the county party leadership.  Some are for the grassroots rank-and-file.  And this is certainly not an exhaustive list of all that could, or should, be done.  But with party reorganization coming up in March, this is absolutely the time to have a discussion about this and other issues.