WeTheDNC


DNC Blueprint for the Future

As someone who has worked for the Democratic Party for 6 years, I know our party’s issues came to a head during the last election cycle, however these issues have been with us for a while. It is clear we have reached a point where we are not being responsive to our members or the public. As uncomfortable as it is, we all need to be bold and challenge the status quo.

We are at a crossroads. We can choose to move ourselves past our defeats by looking honestly at the root causes or we can perish as a party. In this place and time, we need to give ourselves permission to take risks and embrace bold solutions that will lead us to victory in the coming years.

This plan outlines a bold vision for the future of our Party. It sets high expectations and ensures we will become a connected, mutually accountable community. It is a blueprint that redefines our purpose, and includes the concrete steps that will result in election wins on all levels. As President of the National Association of Executive Directors, as well as the director of a state Democratic organization, I am uniquely positioned to provide the visionary leadership for executing this plan.

I believe our greatest mission is to save our democracy. I have watched as Republican leaders have passed laws that have steered our country away from our Constitutional principles and taken away the rights and freedoms our people have worked so hard to gain. This plan is the first step towards taking back our future.

Building a 21st century organization will require that we move from our old ways of operating to create a new way of conducting ourselves, with supporting structure and procedures. To fully understand the massive systemic changes I am proposing, we will need to start with some terms that may be new to many readers, as they will be used throughout my DNC Blueprint for our Future:

Old-Power – Centralized and top down.  Relies on consolidation of power, rigid hierarchy, and leveraging anything with value (knowledge, relationships, trust etc etc) as currency to be exchanged for power.  The shape of an “old-power” structure is a pyramid tapering up to a few people who utilize the masses to maximize their own power.

New-Power – Decentralized and relies on sharing and empowering each other. Key values for new-power align perfectly with our party: collaboration, transparency, and participation. By bringing diverse thinkers together we can access the best collaborative solutions with considerable buy-in from every perspective in our organization before moving forward. The shape of a “new-power” structure is a circle where everyone leads the way and is equal. Though some hierarchy may be found in large organizational structures, elected leaders are in service to the people and aim to maximize the shared power of the organization; they do not claim that power for personal agendas. The goal is to promote democratic processes and amplify the voices of our members so we may reach consensus as often as possible.

Multiplicity – A large number; multiple and various. This word is designed to replace a limiting, traditional concept of diversity by creating groups with multiplicity in mind. The policies in our Party needs to ensure we are doing more than just checking affirmative action boxes. The goal is to have greater participation by various and intersectional perspectives: socioeconomic, ethnic, geographic, and non-binary genders, just to name a few.

Councils and Workgroups – Request the Democratic National Committee members to approve the formation of a number of ad hoc committees, referred to in this Blueprint as councils and workgroups. These groups are designed to move to a new-power system where more people are helping to make the decisions of the Party. Each ad hoc committee will be created with multiplicity guidelines, chaired by a DNC Executive Committee member, given a focus area, a clear timeline and goals, and provided with support staff and resources. All members of the public will be encouraged to apply for these special committees and will hold a one-year term to allow more involvement. They will utilize the latest video conferencing technology to give access to the greatest group of people and make meeting affordable, convenient and inclusive.

Below, I have outlined a framework within which to build. Rebuilding all four key pillars of our organization – Purpose, Partnership, Structure and Culture – is required to support a vibrant, resilient and innovative organization. As is consistent with a new-power system, these pillars have been developed in collaboration with a diverse group of people from across the country.

Purpose – We must become a service-based organization designed to meet the needs of our national institutions, 57 state Party organizations, our general membership, and every single citizen who needs an  advocate on their behalf. It is imperative that we simultaneously create an insurgency to save democracy, and protect our freedoms.

Partnership – The DNC needs to lead the way on collaborative partnerships that aim to maximize our strengths and resources while minimizing redundancies and waste.

State Partnership Program – Our first mission-critical item is to ensure we have the 57 strong, vibrant state Parties to take back statehouses and achieve electoral success at every level of governance.

  • Make Democrats Abroad, D.C. and our 5 territories full partners with equity.

  • Workgroup of stakeholders to create a plan that includes: a 57-state strategic planning process, job descriptions for Party officers and key staff, a base level of monthly resources, mutual accountability and an additional support structure required for success.

  • A minimum of $15,000 a month will be provided to all 57 state parties with additional resources provided in individual contracts agreed upon based on state specific strategic plans and goals.

  • Quarterly training programs in regions for state, county, and township party support staff, as well as allied organizations, candidates, and activists.

  • Decide on what national contracts all 57 state parties use that make sense to have bulk ordering or contracts for. Examples include: conference and video lines, texting services, cell phone services, laptop and/or tablet rental or purchase agreements, liability insurance, payroll services, cloud-based storage, email and other communication systems.

  • Transition manuals for new leaders, DNC members, State Chairs, State Vice-Chairs, Executive Directors and other key staff positions.

  • Transition training program for new leaders, DNC members, State Chairs, State Vice-Chairs, Executive Directors and other key staff positions.

  • Regional desks housed with local offices who work on the following items with their assigned states and Democrats Abroad:

    1. Fundraising: Plan and communicate all national visits, call-time support for Chairs, training for fundraising staff, brainstorming ideas, find national surrogates for state party events.

    2. Digital: Highlight emerging leaders with an emphasis on the New American Majority to national press, promote positive values-based brand to regional press, relay regional issues to national spokespeople, provide training and support on new technologies.

    3. Political: Candidate recruitment, strategic planning, leadership transition training, coordinated campaign planning, troubleshooting, crisis management.

    4. Other areas: as needed.

Reconciliation Tour – Our leaders must hold a series of reconciliation meetings to facilitate and heal the fractures that exist today in our Party. We must give our members a safe place to air grievances and identify more ways to restore trust by getting out into the field and working with those who feel disenfranchised and aggrieved.

Annual Association Retreat – Joint strategic planning sessions with the Executive Committees of the DNC, Association of State Democratic Chairs, and Association of State Democratic Executive Directors to collaborate on organizational purpose–and delegate based on strengths and resource–is vital to our success and maintaining a shared vision.

Annual Progressive Strategy Summit – We must partner with our committees, constituency caucuses, labor groups, Democracy Alliance, and other allied groups to work collaboratively, maximize resources, and minimize redundancies. We must lead the way in research and development to find innovative ways to promote democracy and elect Democrats at all levels.

Annual Caucus Summit – An event that will provide an opportunity for caucus members to partner on joint issues and strategies and encourage open lines of communication and understanding.

Annual Precinct Captain Conference – An opportunity for the grassroots of our Party to gather, receive training and share ideas, resources and mentor each other.

Culture – Creating a service-oriented, innovative, resilient DNC for the 21st century will require a monumental cultural change. It will require everyone in the Democratic Party to start looking deeply at our own actions, assumptions, and judgements.

New American Majority Council –  Affirmative action and diversity goals are no longer adequate to achieve equity. Our goal is to ensure we accomplish true equity and multiplicity in every aspect of our Party. We must include occupation and geography in multiplicity goals to ensure we are reaching outside of our traditional political, socioeconomic, and urban spheres. Multiplicity focus will include, and is not limited to, youth, women, rural community, people of color, working class, LGBT, disabled community, seniors, entrepreneurs, small business owners, inventors, laborers, academics, independents.

  • Create a more inclusive and broader multiplicity policy in our bylaws and employment manual with behavioral standards that are required for hiring, committee appointments, and participation aimed at creating representation divided by region, that encourages intersectionality, inclusion, and diverse perspectives.

  • Require “Transforming White Privilege” courses for our members and leaders.

  • Provide political job-training skills courses in New American Majority communities.

  • Implement a scouting service to reach into New American Majority communities and engage individuals with leaderly qualities.

  • Special focus on collecting perspectives of those who don’t have time and inclination to interact with Party processes.

  • Open up caucus standards to make it easier to create a group of people who want to discuss a shared goal or topic. Examples include:

    1. Create a Rural Caucus to look at messaging, economic issues, agriculture and other items.

    1. Create a Conservation Caucus to look at how to put people to work while simultaneously impacting climate change; public land, water and air protections; clean energy creation and other items.

    1. Assign DNC staff to provide support services, integration, and to be a liaison with DNC caucuses.

  • Provide virtual attendance at meetings for the public so they can participate in our open meetings.

  • Create a grant assistance program to help members with travel and training fees.

  • Build a multi-semester fellowship program that moves interns from State Party or campaign internships to the DNC and into the employment pipeline. Focus on high school, community college, and labor apprenticeship recruitment in addition to state institutions of higher learning.

Hiring Committee – To achieve this cultural shift, we will need to be aggressive, committed, and consistent in every aspect of our organization. Every position at the DNC will be open to the public, with clear job descriptions and cultural expectations that better align with our values and goals. Priority should be given to current DNC employees who have shown a willingness to be transparent, collaborative, and service-oriented, and then look at expertise and years of experience. A zero-tolerance policy will be in place for old-power operational styles, such as using information as currency, manipulating processes to achieve personal agendas, refusal to communicate for personal or political reasons, and backchanneling around negative or dysfunctional aspects of the organization or individuals.

Grievance Council – With trust for the Party structure and processes at an all-time low, we must have a system to address the complaints of people who feel like they have been wronged. Professional mediators, former judges, and crisis management experts who are not currently serving in elected Party positions at any level will be available to assess complaints made around bylaws violations, harassment charges, policy/procedure complaints and overall issues. Experts will provide State Party executive committees and complainants their findings, with suggestions for any possible resolution and future solutions, to ensure systemic issues are addressed. An activism support desk will act as quality control, as well as provide checks and balances for, the Grievance Council. If a grievance is filed against the DNC, all DNC members and 57 state Parties will be notified and allowed to weigh in on the issue.

Grassroots Engagement – Create two-way communication channels to collect feedback and encourage dialogue throughout the country.

  • Ensure staff, Chair and other executive committee members are accessible daily through scheduled time with non-donor and non-influencer meetings.

  • Ensure Party leadership and staff are accessible on social media and actively participating in online discussion forums where appropriate.

  • Create social media hashtag #heydnc to encourage two-way communication.

  • Hold monthly virtual meetings, open to the public, to hear from members what is happening in their communities.

  • Hold regular virtual trainings to educate the public on ways they can participate in Democratic Party processes and meetings.

  • Invite Precinct Committee-People and other grassroots leaders to two-way weekly communication calls.

  • Encourage Precinct Committee-People and Party Members at every level to pro-actively reach out to assist local activists working on issues that align with our platform.

Annual Evaluation Process – Create a process in which the public can evaluate the DNC officers and staff, state party officers and staff, and other Democratic organizations. Information will be collected and shared with the public.

Structure – Our actions must align with our values to prepare us to become a Party of the 21st Century. To do so, we must assess and update our Party structure, our governing documents, and DNC organizational infrastructure. This will require many of the ideas in plan will need to go through the current bylaws process.

Establish the Unity Commission within the first week of taking office as instructed in the 2016 Resolution. Ensure the RBC relays the Unity Commission recommendations in their entirety to the DNC for discussion and ratification by the January 1, 2018 deadline.

Audit Council – Review the current DNC committees, structure, employees, contracts, and budgets. Identify ways to cut costs, improve efficiency, innovate, and modernize.

Executive Director Empowerment – Add the President of the Association of State Democratic Executive Directors (ASDED) as a voting member of the DNC Executive Committee. Have the DNC Chair attend quarterly ASDED meetings to address topics as decided on by the Association. Find other ways to regularly get input from Executive Directors on training programs, resources required to accomplish goals, local issues. Party leaders will be available to assist Executive Directors in dealing with politically difficult situations in their state with congressional offices, committees and allied groups.

Association of State Democratic Chairs (ASDC) Empowerment – Ensure that the ASDC is fully integrated into the DNC management, communication and decision-making structure while also maintaining their autonomy and independence.

  • Ensure the DNC Chair and officers attend all ASDC meetings when invited.

  • Weekly meeting between ASDC and DNC Chair.

  • Weekly meeting between corresponding ASDC and DNC staff.

  • Annual contract collaboration of DNC support services and budgetary items to meet ASDC goals.

Regional/Rural Empowerment – Expand bylaws to eight regional caucuses, ensuring we highlight rural areas and perspectives in our Party. Regional staff will interact regularly with regional caucus and state leaders by holding monthly caucus calls to promote communication and support. Regional staff will work with regional caucus leaders to plan quarterly trainings. Ensure regional staff are interacting regularly with ASDED and ASDC regional representatives.

Flatten Organizational Structure – 21st century innovation will require that we move from a hierarchal structure where just a few have all the power to a flatter structure where we empower our staff, Party leaders at all organizational units and grassroots volunteers with decision-making abilities. A flatter structure promotes transparency, collaboration, and communication–all key to rebuilding trust and confidence at the DNC.

Create a basic organizational chart that is kept up to date, with contact information and is posted online, that includes both paid staff and our governing structure as well as members of our Councils and Workgroups.

Build Key Workrooms of Paid Professionals at the DNC to accomplish organizational goals in consultation with assigned DNC officers.

  • Activism Workroom – MISSION: to improve public confidence, trust, and interaction with the Democratic Party. We need to build out a department whose goal is to interact successfully with the general public and improve our public image. The DNC must better connect grassroots activists to the leaders and work of our Party. Regional support desks in the DC office will interact with the general public, state party offices, elected leaders, and regional staff. These professionals should have excellent listening, empathy, conflict management, and problem-solving skills. They should also have the appropriate political relationships and party longevity to be useful resources. It is important that they aren’t passively waiting for people to reach out to them, but that they actively search social media and public information sources to ensure concerns and issues are dealt with in a positive way that encourages trust and confidence. They should be the first to report any grievances expressed by the public.
  • Workroom for Democracy – MISSION: to save democracy by ensuring the support structures in American democracy are working effectively.
    1. Voter protection program focused on proactive support for state election issues, and litigation support for state party to bring suit when laws have been violated. These professionals will also act as liaisons to allied groups working on these programs.

    2. Program to elect Democrats to Secretary of State and key Election Administration positions throughout the country in 2018 and 2020. These professionals will also act as liaisons to national committee and allied groups working on these programs.

    3. Media program to hold the media accountable and ensure citizens get factual, unbiased information provided to them through traditional media channels. These professionals will also act as liaisons to allied groups working on these programs.

    4. Redistricting program to win back gubernatorial and legislative seats in 2018 and 2020. Work with elected leaders to eliminate gerrymandering for the 2021 redistricting process. Ensuring a high-quality census process will be in this program’s scope. These professionals will also act as liaisons to national committee groups working on these programs.

    5. Down-ballot election program to support state parties in their strategic planning goals with professionals who know how to run legislative, county, and municipal elections in different-sized populations. These professionals will also act as liaisons to national committee groups working on these programs.

    6. Civics program to assist state parties in educating all ages on how to engage in democracy through teaching voting rights, civil discourse, legislative action, peaceful protest, volunteerism, and other advocacy skills to exercise First Amendment rights.

  • Workroom for Promotion – MISSION: to promote a positive, values-based identity in all communication, both internally and externally. It is essential that we brag about our accomplishments, why we are great, and keep our message focused on success.
    1. Use the 2016 Party Platform, the Charter, and public surveys, to select three key values of the Democratic Party to focus communication around. These should be used as a pro-Democrat message, clearly contrasting with Republicans.

    2. Build a new brand, packaging, and identity–perhaps from innovative, non-political ad agency.

    3. Launch a media campaign promoting the new Democratic Party identity.

    4. Conduct communication, public relations, conflict management, and brand promotion trainings to activists and Party leaders.

    5. Provide resources for communication to help state parties tie into the new Democratic Party identity in ways that advance their strategic plan goals. Promotion templates for radio, television, digital, website, and email that can be customized.

    6. Work with regional staff and other Workroom professionals to promote projects, people and programs that highlight our key values.

    7. Train media outlets to use our key values, stories, and new narrative.

    8. Create new email and social media guidelines that align with our culture and values. Ensure a balance between fundraising communication and informational communication.

    9. Build a rapid response team that is armed daily with our positive, pro-Democrat messages and information.

  • Technology Workroom – MISSION: Become the leader in innovative political technology and reimagine what tools the Democratic Party can create, build in-house, and share with its partners to assist in electing more Democrats.
    1. Conduct a technology audit on what tools state party and Party Committees use.

    2. Conduct an audit of what tools are available on the open market to businesses, the Republican Party, and progressive organizations. Pay special attention to startups.

    3. Work with Targetsmart, NGP/VAN, and the Voter Coop to refine and strengthen their role in the system. Re-tool our contract with agreed upon transparency, accountability, quality control and customer service checks.

    4. Annual politech professional summit to brainstorm new technologies and improve existing tools.

    5. Determine what technology can be created in-house for less money and higher efficacy. Create a plan for building out an in-house technology team.

    6. Conduct RFP (Request-For-Proposal) for remaining technology needs to determine best vendors based on price, customer service, loyalty to the cause, and reliability. Vendors’ company culture should also be looked at to ensure it is not out of alignment with our own.

    7. Update technology infrastructure and Implement cyber-security measures at the DNC as recommended by the investigation conducted in 2016.

    8. Audit the security measures of state Party, committees, and allied groups, and recommend ways the DNC can help ensure the entire system is properly protected.

    9. Identify a communication system that allows the DNC office, regional offices, state Party offices, legislative caucuses, and any county and municipal offices to collaborate and support one another with the most promising practices. This should include all paid staff, Party elected positions at all units and engaged volunteers with assigned tasks.

    10. Create a training series with certification steps for data practitioners at all levels from Data Directors down to volunteers.

    11. Re-build the existing online toolbox to ensure it is easy to navigate, allows for crowd-sourcing ideas and resources, and easily gives everyone access while integrating with the communication system.

  • Finance Workroom – MISSION: To work with the National Finance Committee to find new and different ways to raise and spend money.
    1. Ensure a transparent budgeting and financial reporting system is being utilized as required in our bylaws.

    2. Review Audit Council findings to decide on cost-saving opportunities.

    3. Reinstate lobbyist ban to ensure the Democratic Party isn’t beholden to special interests.

    4. Ensure a balance of DNC events in high dollar, low dollar, and free spheres when we travel.

    5. Use positive, values-based messaging to pull new donors in through email, mail, digital, and phone programs.

    6. Re-vamp programs like The Victory Fund to help state Party fundraising efforts.

    7. Utilize a wider array of surrogates and validators to place a spotlight on more members of our Party, not just members of Congress. Highlight programs and successes at state parties.

    8. Audit fundraising and compliance needs to have an effective balance of in-house versus consultant/vendor costs.

    9. Conduct a RFP process for all vendors and consultants working in the Party.

    10. Provide compliance oversight and assistance for state parties to avoid fines and headlines.

    11. Ensure that proper call-time training, scheduling, and completion is occurring by all DNC Finance Committee members, Party leaders and key staff.

    12. Utilize crowdfunding sources to take advantage of new-power funding techniques.

    13. Look into marketing and selling appropriate DNC resources to outside groups and activists.

  • Workroom for Innovation – MISSION: to find innovative and resilient solutions to significant issues facing our society; to ensure we return public confidence to democracy, government, and the Democratic Party.
    1. Critical Conversations Work Groups – Volunteer discussion groups lead by a DNC Executive Committee member charged with re-envisioning how we do politics in our country.

      State Party Innovation and Resiliency – Brainstorm potential solutions to state party organizational issues such as high staff turnover, lack of accountability and consistency in officer positions, no consistency in state statutes and bylaws, and party organizational processes.

      DNC Alignment and Innovation – Bylaws review process to de-emphasize chair and executive power, and update processes to utilize 21st century technology and communication methods.

      Creating a New-Power Political Party – Identify who is not voting in our country and why. Brainstorm innovations to state laws around issues such as closed primaries, electoral college, and precinct captains. Brainstorm how to move forward when so many Americans don’t want to affiliate with a political party.

      Campaign Finance Reform – Brainstorm a foundational solution to ensure the rich and powerful aren’t the only ones who have access to the political process. Look at running for office, campaign funding, political party funding, impacts on media advertising, campaign timelines.

      Party Platform Administration – Create clear guidelines on ways the DNC can more adequately advocate and implement the ideals and policies in the Party Platform. This WILL NOT be in the form of a litmus test or forced unity pledge that require Democrats or Democratic elected officials to be of one ideological mindset.

      Fair Wages for All – Draft economic policy to get more money into the pockets of more Americans.

  • Insurgency Workroom – MISSION: to protect our freedoms and constitutional rights as well as hold the Trump administration and Republican majorities accountable to their election promises and legislative failures.
    1. Negative communication should be balanced with solution-oriented, positive internal and external communication.

    2. Develop a framework around suppression of freedom by the GOP.

    3. Survey the public for the highest priority issues from our platform to focus on.

    4. Build an emotional, values-based opposition message around key issues.

    5. Work with the Technology Workroom to build tools state parties can use to make interaction with members of Congress and state legislatures faster and easier.

    6. Work with the Technology Workroom to build a tool to assess the accuracy of a news item to combat fake news.

    7. Push action items to Rapid Response team for dissemination.

This DNC Blueprint for the Future is an ever-evolving work in progress. It is designed to begin a dialogue with the greatest group of Democrats we have seen actively engaged with our Party in at least a decade. How we go about the bold, visionary work of rebuilding our Party is up to YOU! We can’t afford to lose one single voice in this process. We must engage everyone in brainstorming and decision making to ensure the energy and passion we put into this process results in the most innovative, vibrant, resilient Democratic Party America has seen.  This plan is a result of the last decade I have spent engaging with people throughout our country, from all walks of life, in the conversation about saving our democracy. As I push more people to contemplate revolutionary ways of conducting political work the closer we get to a breakthrough. The most important role for the DNC is to interact with and empower the public, from the local level up to the national stage, to implement the best ideas from the greatest group of thinkers. I want to be your next DNC Chair to ensure that we revolutionize the Democratic Party for the generations to come, as a trusted, vibrant beacon of democracy! Be bold, take risks and join me!