Democrats have a new DNC Chair. So now what?
Bottom line: Tom Perez and the new DNC team have their work cut out for them. But the strength and the fervor of the resistance is real, and has the potential to grow into a full-fledged movement.
To better understand the possibilities for movement-building and explore its implications, Sean McElwee and I tried to quantify just how influential progressives are feeling today, and what they see as their path forward.
The survey was conducted among 988 respondents identified as “Political Influencers.” In short, Political Influencers are hyperactive partisans who exhibit a high level of activism. They are involved in a number of political activities, from more traditional approaches to influencing (i.e., voting or signing a petition) to more committed activities (i.e., participating in a local community group or taking part in a demonstration). As their name implies, Political Influencers are active and outgoing, and pride themselves on being well-informed and up to date. Enabling their influence, this audience likes talking about politics and current affairs with friends, and doesn’t shy away from expressing opinions.
You can read the full article in Salon, but here are the key takeaways:
1. There are signs that this effort is engaging people who haven’t been actively engaged in politics in the past.
It appears that resistance efforts are indeed drawing new blood into the “Influencer” circle, engaging progressives who haven’t always been as actively involved. Making sure these new Influencers feel like their voice is being heard will be critical. Equally important, there is a recognition among Political Influencers that for change to happen, it must be fought for at all levels of government, including at the state and local level.
2. Political Influencers play an important role in the strength and direction of the resistance effort moving forward. Right now, there is a crisis of confidence in the national party.
While Political Influencers are overwhelmingly planning to vote for and support Democrats heading into 2018, the party has some significant rebuilding ahead. These folks are motivated and taking action, but they don’t see identification with the party as a key way to ensure their voice is being heard. Moving forward, the party needs to ensure these Influencers feel it is speaking and acting in a way that reflects their own voices. Standing up against Trump is the surest way to do so.
3. Progressives need to avoid the missteps of the Tea Party, and right now, they are. But care must be taken to avoid the trap of ideological purity.
The Tea Party’s legislative success has been and remains muted, in part because of its insistence on ideological purity. While these findings suggest that ideological purity may not provide a similar challenge for the left, it is important to learn from the Tea Party’s mistakes.
4. Democrats need to portray themselves as a party that’s willing to fight, and rely on their state and local counterparts to organize resistance efforts.
Political Influencers are desperately seeking a national Democratic operation that acts as a bullhorn for their own voices to be heard. Right now, these Influencers don’t express confidence that the DNC represents their interests, and even fewer believe the party has strong leadership or is on a path toward victory. Bottom line: The work is cut out for this new team that takes the reins at the DNC. In the meantime, Political Influencers recognize the importance of state and local organizing efforts, and are involving themselves at this level. It’s here, at the grassroots, that the rebuilding effort will reap its greatest rewards.