How to GROW and Further the Progressive Movement
I had the pleasure of addressing the Nasty Women's "Listen, Learn, Lead #4: Stay Engaged" event at the Lagunitas Community Room. We heard from a variety of progressive leaders about how to keep up the momentum that delivered so much for the progressive movement on Election Day 2018. I shared my ideas about four things that we must do simultaneously in order to win.
GROW - Govern, Recruit, Organize (and then we will Win!)
That is how we grow and further the progressive movement.
Many of us are not the ones in office. For those of us not in office, we need to hold our elected officials accountable. We need to show up at their constituent coffees, town halls, and forums. We need to send them hand written letters and emails on the topics up for discussion of the day. We need to post about their positions and actions on Facebook. If there's an important vote coming up, we need a bus full of Nasty Women headed to the Legislature!
We need to both thank our elected leaders when we are happy with their actions but also constructively elevate concerns of why we may not be happy when their actions disappoint us. That is how we let our elected public servants know what our beliefs, priorities, and values are, and how we hold them accountable - and hopefully, if we do it with mutual respect and in a positive yet firm way - there will be relationships established that allow us to support them when they are in a tough spot, to show the people have their back. If the elected officials demonstrate they have our back, we will have theirs.
We need to start recruiting good candidates for 2020 ... NOW. We need to always strive to lift up and elevate progressive women, progressive candidates from communities of color, and progressive candidates among other underrepresented groups in government. We must help get our candidates the training, support, and infrastructure they need in order to mount competitive campaigns against Republicans. And yes, although I know it's not a comfortable subject - we must be ready to run candidates against our own Democrats, if these Democrats aren't governing or acting in a principled fashion, if these Democrats are not living our values, voting our values, and showing that they have Oregonians' backs.
We need to keep up the organizing that was done post-2016. In 2016 we were able to harness the various emotions coming out of the contentious 2016 Democratic Primary and the disastrous 2016 General Election and translate it into grassroots organizing. We absolutely must maintain that momentum and sense of urgency. We need to bring more people into the process. We need to build the Democratic Party, to include the Neighborhood Leader Program. We must strengthen bonds between existing political powerhouses like the Democratic Party of Oregon, Our Revolution, Indivisible, Nasty Women PDX, the NAACP, APANO, the ACLU, Causa, tribal communities, unions, and anyone who has a vested interest in fighting back against this fascist, neoliberal, oligarchy. If we can band all of our forces together, we can do great things. "When we stand together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish."
If we do all of these things above, if the Democratic Party and its elected representatives govern in a way that demonstrates that we Democrats are authentic and Walk the Walk; and if we recruit exciting, hardworking, smart, talented, dynamic candidates; if we organize to ensure there is a strong infrastructure and campaign base behind these candidates - we will win! And we will keep winning.
And after each election, if we pick up where we left off and then even build and double down on our efforts, organizing, and action, we will GROW our Party, we will GROW the number of progressives in government, we will GROW the progressive movement, and we will GROW opportunity, justice, and love for the American people.
Those are my thoughts on the way forward and how to stay engaged. Thanks for listening.
1st Vice Chair, Democratic Party of Oregon
Vice President, Health Care for All Oregon
Elected Trustee, Portland Community College (Zone 5)