Report from Washington State Democratic Central Committee Meeting 4/22/17, Walla Walla
Structural changes in our function under new leadership
In overview, our meetings have a new format under our new chair Tina Podlodowski, and so far it’s a real improvement. Previously our Friday nights were devoted to socializing at “hospitality suites” run by various groups or individuals (often candidates). Then our time to meet in caucuses of various groups and interests was condensed and overlapping on Saturday AM, allowing for only an hour-long committee meeting before the business meeting that afternoon. Under our new system, caucuses begin Friday night, and it would be theoretically possible to attend a series of 3 caucuses, from 5-8PM before hospitality suites. On Saturday morning, we were able to attend special training sessions and hold longer committee meetings of 1h45min each, making our work far more meaningful. Plus, our committees will be much more active than they were in the past. We formerly met for an hour three times a year. We now meet for 1:45 in person, plus hold at least monthly conference calls for work, and we have much more extensive goals than in the past. This is exciting, and it reflects a commitment on the part of our new leadership to really get the job done of electing progressive Democrats in Washington state!
Our training program starting this meeting was on “Heroes’ Narratives.” The aim is to teach us to take the long view of identifying stories that excite our base at the moment, while building our base over the long term. What is our best progressive story, and how do we tell it? Unfortunately, when it comes to using a values-based narrative, thus far the conservative voices have been defining the message; we have been battling their narrative. Story-telling over a long period of time delivers a strong message that captures and holds the audience’s attention, stimulating the desired action. A good narrative, however, helps different campaigns tell a common story and builds power over time. A given campaign may have many messages, but these should all support a long-term narrative. We discussed the importance of making messages resonate, using values-based language; we need to speak to peoples’ hearts to change their minds. People cherry-pick what facts they will believe based on the emotional parts of their brains. We want to increase participation of our base and grow our base at the same time.
In this era of sound bites, we need to return to developing “epic stories,” as, over time, that is what will resonate with people. The story elements include:
1)a hero who makes 2) a quest which should be real, tangible and urgent. The hero faces 3) a threat which may not necessarily be true, but which resonates and mobilizes. The hero uses policies as 4) tools to accomplish goals. It’s more important to tell why a policy matters, not what it does. Along comes 5) a villain is the person we hold accountable for the threat; he has his own weapons. The story is most compelling if the hero, the heart of the story, is your audience; you are their mentor. For example, Obama spoke of “single moms” as heroes. A quest might be “change you can believe in.” A threat might be “climate change.” To Trump, Hillary was the villain; she was “weak” and “threatening.” Her weapons were “lies.” This session provided a refreshing way to approach our strategies as a party moving forward.
Lunch speaker Hillary Franz, newly-elected Commissioner of Public Lands
She spoke of the importance of listening to others, of spending time to come up with solutions to common problems we see in rural areas. She wants to work with communities and focus on helping the economy while conserving public lands. She feels we can address climate change without speaking of “climate change” per se in a way that upsets opponents; we can find common ground and build on that. She wishes to demonstrate that we can create a strong economy while supporting clean energy, and she plans to start with demonstration projects that should do just that in 5 areas she will select.
Chair Podlodowski has built a budget and has an organizaing plan. She’s hired 5 new staffers, and we have a new funding source, “the Resistance.” Based on small dollar fundraising attracting new participants, the state party’s working budget based on recurring contributions went from $2000 to $17,000 per month. We now have 1100 small donors and plan to grow this base further. We now have a full-time communications director for the first time who is about to start working.
Progress report from Dylan Cate, our new organizing director
Theme “win every race in every place.” We plan to win elections and build strategic long-term political relationships. Previously the party didn’t support candidates in areas we “couldn’t win.” We will instead support all good Democratic candidates. They might not win this election, but they’ll become known, and they’ll become stronger. We’ll have new tools in our voter file; traditional methods are not working. We won’t just canvass known Democrats; we’ll get out and listen to voters, ask their priorities. PCOs should learn what their neighbors care about.
On your cell phone, open text messaging app and write: 444999. Type the work “persist” and you’ll go to volunteering opportunities. Type “resistance,” and you’ll be able to support us financially.
- Rules committee will have rules for endorsements ready in September. Rules for primaries (vs caucuses) will come later.
- Affirmative action committee (chaired by our own Chris Porter! and to be renamed to express “inclusion”) is dealing with harassment issues and code of conduct language plus a framework for mediation
- Technology committee has recruited 60 members from tech industry and has in place 16 teams with functions ranging from mobile apps, webcasts,centralized calendar, PCO finders.
Democratic National Committee
Members report feeling new Chairman Tom Perez is refreshing and is truly overhauling the party. We will have a 57 state strategy going forward. They report the biggest change is that they now feel the “people at the top are interested in listening.”
Please see state party website for full list and content of resolutions passed by the body.
Please contact either Chris Porter or myself if you have any specific questions or concerns. And yes, we enjoyed both the eastern Washington sunshine and the wines!