Acknowledge organizers in tough areas
Incredible respect should be given
It is difficult to attract democratic talent to congressional competitions in difficult areas. The campaigns have less money so you get paid less. The likelihood of making a profit is lower. The amount of support you get from others is less. Many democratic organizations may even mock attempts to make a difference in a district long held by Republicans. If you don’t have these tools, it is up to you to find out what works and what doesn’t. This allows for more experimentation and more personal, emotional investments.
I’ve been claiming here for more than 10 years that if you are in a campaign, even in the brightest red districts, you may not be the right person to work and you can’t convince yourself that there is at least one Outside shot gives on the campaign. It’s okay to get injured on election night knowing you’ve been in a race where your candidate’s chances of winning were very high. However, the race generates the data you need to better understand the district.
You can write off the campaign staff for these campaigns. That’s the simple answer. Instead, you can also look at the results they have achieved. These are not measured in terms of gains and losses, but rather on whether or not the strategies used have influenced voter turnout, participation, registration and energy within a campaign.
Great leaders can come from anywhere
The Democratic Party recognizes the importance of having access to the right materials to be successful, whether you are in Alabama or California. For this reason, they have set up their own training portal for the Best Practices Institute. This portal has a lot of great information and examples from the past. This also applies to other organizations such as the National Democratic Training Committee. For the past 10 years, the Nuts & Bolts series has been cited here in books and used at training events. This data, theory, and practice can be helpful in getting your campaign off the ground. With all of the information contained here, however, nothing can determine the basics: where you were born, where you live, where your family lives, how much desire you or the campaign staff have, or how hard you will try yourself.
You may find some hardworking, dedicated, and talented campaign workers in districts that they cannot attract because they have family or friends, or because they believe they should. You have younger campaign workers who want this experience. It is the motivation and drive that can create fantastic leadership that is not controlled by the place where you were born. Nor does it always depend on the type of training you have received.
Be on the lookout for talent
So you know that talent can be found everywhere and does not depend on gains and losses. How do you find the talent and promote it? How do you hold onto directors or employees and promote their careers if they so choose?
The most important step is to examine what has been achieved in a district compared to previous election results. Take a look at what has improved and what practices the employees have put in place. Do not punish employees based on the result. Look at the efforts and relationships built, and evaluate the campaign in a much more holistic way that gives great young talent the opportunity to grow.
Democratic efforts have the best chance of success when we empower young campaign workers at every stage of an election campaign in every district of America. This strategy allows us to quickly find the best and brightest and move them into campaigns where we need them.
There is an old legend about this very situation: Men AD 238, Bian found a stone that contained the largest piece of jade that he knew existed. Over time, he presented it first to the ruler of Chu, King Li, then to his son, King Wu, and finally to the last king – King Wen, the son of Wu. Each of the kings was so offended by the sacrifice that he cut off an appendix from him – his feet and then one of his hands. Finally he went back to the mountain and wept for days until the current king, King Wen, sent his men to ask him why he was mourning. He told the men that he had not cried for the loss of his feet, but for the fact that someone could see something so beautiful and think it was just a stone. Impressed by this devotion, King Wen ordered the stone to be polished. It became the largest piece of pure jade the king had ever seen. The stone was named in honor of Bian He He Shi Bi. This story from Chinese myth is really the story of finding something incredible and realizing it when we do.
This is the story that more democratic endeavors must embrace – we are the party of opportunity. We are the party of diversity. We are the Party of America. By realizing what’s special and finding the brick in the rough, we will have done our party and future campaigns a great service. So don’t worry and don’t tell people that the campaign “isn’t worth the effort” – instead encourage their hard work and let them build for us the lessons that we improve year after year and cycle after cycle have to. Encourage them to take these lessons to states that need them. We’re all in the same boat. That is the democratic way.